US homeland security PCs vulnerable to cyber attack

WASHINGTON • The United States department charged with protecting government computers needs to secure its own information systems better, according to a government audit that showed lapses in internal systems used by the Secret Service, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice).

The audit released on Tuesday said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also needs to establish a cyber training programme for analysts and investigators.

The websites are used by Ice and Secret Service agents to report investigation statistics, case tracking and information sharing, the report by the Office of the Inspector-General for DHS said.

The audit said the department has made progress in strengthening cyber coordination between agencies, and made nine recommendations.

The recommendations come as the federal government's cyber security practices are under intense public scrutiny following recent breaches at the Office of Personnel Management, White House, State Department and other agencies.

CYBER READINESS

Without developing the department-wide training programme, component personnel may not possess the skills necessary to perform their assigned incident response duties or investigative responsibilities in the event of a cyber attack.

OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL FOR DHS, on the need for proper training

Officials from several agencies told investigators their ability to conduct proper training programmes has been hampered by the stop-gap funding Bills Congress has been passing because of its inability to approve year-long spending in a timely way.

"Without developing the department-wide training programme, component personnel may not possess the skills necessary to perform their assigned incident response duties or investigative responsibilities in the event of a cyber attack," the report said. REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2015, with the headline 'US homeland security PCs vulnerable to cyber attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe