DHS has more to do after cyber sprint, says watchdog

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The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General said that although the agency has made significant progress in meeting the demands of the Office of Management and Budget's cybersecurity sprint, it must do more to address the requirements of the 2014 Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) and other security efforts.

According to an OIG report released Jan. 7, DHS' successes include updating its monthly information security scorecard with revised metrics that include anti-phishing and malware. It has also expanded configuration management metrics to cover Linux, Macintosh and Unix operating systems to better evaluate security processes and continuous monitoring capabilities.

In addition, the department is keeping up with its IT hardware inventory. As of July 2015, eight DHS component agencies had met or exceeded the target of 95 percent for hardware asset reporting on the agencywide monthly information security scorecard, the OIG report states.

On the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation front, the report notes that DHS has increased the number of systems participating in the Ongoing Authorization Program. As of August, 82 systems from seven components were enrolled -- up from the 61 systems from five components in fiscal 2014.

However, the OIG said the department still has work to do in many of those areas. For instance, DHS officials did not include classified systems in the information security scorecard or in its FISMA submission to OMB.

Furthermore, the Coast Guard sent its report on its personal identity verification efforts to the Defense Information Systems Agency instead of to DHS, as required. The OIG also found inaccurate or incomplete data in DHS' enterprise management systems.

In interviews with security personnel at eight component agencies, the OIG said it found some gaps in the CDM program that could leave potential points of exploitation open. Specifically, four components agencies did not perform network penetration testing, five did not have the technical capability to block unauthorized software from being introduced to any device on the network, and three did not have the technical ability to block unauthorized hardware such as USB drives from connecting to devices on the network.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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