DOD still falling short on cyber, IG says

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The Defense Department has quite a bit of work to do to bring its cybersecurity up to standard, according to the inspector general's latest summary of past reports.

The IG did give credit when due, noting in the report that DOD had locked down some vulnerabilities. But the department has failed to fully implement the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework issued in April 2018, the summary states.

Most vulnerabilities, the IG wrote, were related to the "identify" and "protect" sections of the NIST framework that require an organization to develop organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, people, assets, data and capabilities and to implement safeguards for delivery of critical services, respectively. (Detect, Respond and Recover are the other three NIST framework components.)

"Recently issued cybersecurity reports indicate that the DoD still faces challenges in managing cybersecurity risk to its network," the IG wrote.

FCW has reached out to the Pentagon's CIO for comment.

The IG found that most weaknesses were related to governance or the "identify" part of the framework. Without it, the watchdog wrote, "DOD cannot ensure that it effectively identifies and manages cybersecurity risk as it continues to face a growing variety of cyber threats from adversaries, such as offensive cyberspace operations used to disrupt, degrade, or destroy targeted information systems."

The DOD IG conducted its review from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, and issued its summary Jan. 9. As of Sept. 30, 2018, it said, 266 cybersecurity recommendations remained open, including some held over from 2009 and 2010.

"The DoD must also ensure that cybersecurity risks are effectively managed to safeguard its reliance on cyberspace to support its operations and implement proper controls and processes where weaknesses are identified to improve the overall cybersecurity," the IG wrote in its summary.

The report is part of the Federal Information Security Modernization Act's requirement to annually review effectiveness of a government organization's information security program and practices.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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