Oversight

GAO: SEC needs to follow its own security plan

Shutterstock image (by wavebreakmedia): digital lock superimposed upon a data center.

The Securities and Exchange Commission could do a better job of protecting its data. Its security plans are outdated and incomplete, and SEC financial data and systems might be vulnerable to tampering, according to a Government Accountability Office report released on April 28.

"SEC did not consistently control logical and physical access to its network, servers, applications and databases; manage its configuration settings; segregate duties; or update its contingency plan," GAO auditors wrote. "These weaknesses existed, in part, because SEC did not effectively implement key elements of its information security program."

The SEC has made some progress on the security front, the report notes, but did not, for instance, properly control access to its systems.

Across its production, disaster recovery and testing environments, 20 users shared a single password. In another case of poor management, GAO said the agency set up a key financial server with a password that would never expire.

SEC data was thereby left open to potential disclosure, modification and destruction from the outside or from anonymous employees.

GAO's report came with half a dozen public recommendations, including conducting a comprehensive inventory of the production environment's systems and applications and dedicating personnel to review continuous monitoring reports.

GAO made another 30 recommendations in a limited-distribution report.

"We have not fully achieved our goals as they relate to implementing our information security program," SEC CIO Pamela Dyson acknowledged in response to the report.

She added that the password issues were fixed right after the close of GAO's audit.

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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