Cybersecurity

FISMA report shows pain, few gains

Federal agencies are still vulnerable to some of the most common cyberattacks, the Office of Management and Budget's annual cybersecurity report card showed.

As cybersecurity incidents rose 10 percent between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, topping 77,000, agencies worked through such pushes as the 30-day cybersecurity sprint and the Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan. The initiatives effected real change, with all 24 CFO Act agencies reporting high-value assets to OMB and boosting government-wide two-factor authentication to 81 percent of users, according to OMB's report.

But for some agencies, the pushes revealed further weaknesses instead of a quick success story.

OMB's report also noted that phishing remains one of the most popular ways adversaries target federal networks, and that agencies have mixed success defending against the technique. Most CFO Act agencies analyze incoming emails for suspicious content, but eight had no capability to open attachments in a sandboxed environment, three had no sender authentication and 11 had no digital signatures. In the Departments of Interior, Justice and Defense, no users completed anti-phishing training exercises in fiscal 2015, OMB reported.

Overall Federal Information Security Management Act scores sank by eight percentage points from fiscal 2014, a decline OMB attributed largely to a new scoring model that stressed continuous monitoring.

The State Department's score declined for the fourth straight year, down from 53 percent in 2012 to 34 percent in 2015. GSA maintained its government-leading position with a 91 percent score, followed by DOJ at 89 percent.

Looking forward, OMB promised the extension of EINSTEIN 3 Accelerated monitoring to all civilian CFO Act agencies by the end of 2016, along with a continued emphasis on CyberStat meetings with agencies and other work aimed at reducing agencies' exposure to cyber threats.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.

Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.

Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.

Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.


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