DHS laptops still vulnerable, IG finds

Laptops used by DHS' Office of the Inspector General are still susceptible to attacks, despite a number of recent steps taken to harden security.

DHS Report

Related Links

Laptop computers used by the Homeland Security Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) are still susceptible to cyberattacks despite several recent steps taken to harden security, a report has found.

In particular, the IG’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) reported, OIG has not plugged some critical vulnerabilities in its sensitive-but-unclassified (SBU) laptop computers, even though the office had successfully designed a standard software installation based on National Security Agency and DHS guidelines.

The list of specific vulnerabilities was redacted from the IG’s unclassified report.

One major flaw was that OIG "has not implemented consistently its model for SBU laptop computers," OIT said in its report.

A model system is a read-only mechanism used to build new versions of the system. Once developed, the OIG model systems are loaded onto a server as an image or copy and then installed on laptops.

Of the 94 SBU laptops OIT tested, 40 percent had configuration vulnerabilities not found on the model system. Most had one or two additional vulnerabilities, but three had a combined total of 28, and thus deviated significantly from the model system, the report states.

According to the OIG information systems security manager, the deviations were largely the result of the office not ensuring that all laptops go through the standard configuration and issuance procedure.

The three laptops with the excessive weaknesses, for example, were brought over from the Treasury Department when DHS’ OIG was established. They were supposed to be removed from use but instead remained in use. Another laptop was not configured correctly because it was only supposed to be an evaluation unit, but it remained in active use.

OIG had not established effective procedures to patch and update the software on its laptops or an accurate inventory to track the laptops, the report states.

For example, serial numbers on individual units are not entered into the system until the units are assigned to users. OIG has only nonwritten procedures to track loaned and replacement laptops, but the OIG help desk does not follow them consistently. The office also has not established policies and procedures to conduct periodic reviews of its inventory, the report states.

In addition, OIG had not implemented procedures that would ensure all sensitive data had been wiped from laptops before the systems were reused or disposed of. Lost or stolen laptops were not routinely reported to the appropriate authority, in one case not until several months after the computer disappeared.

“In 2005, 12 security incidents involving stolen DHS laptops were reported to the DHS Computer Security Incident Response Center,” the report states. The thefts involved laptops from Customs and Border Patrol, the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Science and Technology Directorate.

The report recommends a series of measures that the department’s chief information officer should take, such as establishing procedures to ensure that model systems are configured to protect OIG data and updated regularly. It also calls for clearing data before laptops are reassigned and implementing a property management system that maintains an accurate laptop inventory.

OIG either concurred with the recommendations or said actions had already been taken independently to tighten security.

David Hubler contributed to this report.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.