Cybersecurity

No agencies hit by WannaCry so far

Margie Graves

Acting federal CIO Margie Graves credits patching under the cybersecurity sprint with protecting federal networks from a global ransomwear.

It's been nearly two years since the govermentwide cybersprint following the massive Office of Personnel Management data breaches. Yet acting federal CIO Margie Graves said on May 17 that those efforts are still paying dividends.

The latest example, Graves said, is the WannaCry ransomware attack. While the malware, which relies in part on software exploits, hit computers in more than 150 countries of the past few days, federal systems seem to have emerged unscathed.

"To date, I have not heard of a federal government victim of this particular incident," she said to audience applause at FedScoop's Public Sector Innovation Summit.

"We picked the things in the cyber sprint for a reason," Graves told reporters after her speech, "because they were primary threat vectors, and because we knew we needed to fix them."

Particularly important for a threat like WannaCry, she said, was ensuring that agencies could "truly scan" their network environments and report back on vulnerabilities almost immediately. If more organizations did the same, she said, the latest RansomWare attack might have found far fewer vulnerable systems.

Federal systems remain far from impervious, Graves said, "because there are always zero day attacks," but she said it was gratifying to see the hard work of two years ago "starting to show results." 

In her public remarks, Graves said the government was probably due for another sprint -- though perhaps not quite so speedy as the 2015 exercise. "I wouldn't wish that on anybody," she said "trying to do all that in 30 days."

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN, as well as General Manager of Public Sector 360.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

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


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