GAO says U.S. agencies unprepared to fight cyberthreats
A majority of them aren't ready to combat phishing, spam and spyware
Computerworld - A majority of federal agencies appear to be unprepared to deal with emerging information security threats such as spyware, phishing and spam, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Adding to the problem is a lack of guidance on what exactly government agencies need to report when it comes to these threats, as well as how and to whom they should report such incidents.
As a result, "the federal government is limited in its ability to identify and respond to emerging cybersecurity threats, including sophisticated and coordinated attacks that target multiple federal entities," the 79-page report warned.
The GAO report is based on input from security executives at 24 major federal agencies and discusses potential threats, reported agency perception to these threats and efforts to address them.
According to the GAO, spam, phishing and spyware all pose potent and growing threats to the integrity of federal information systems. Phishing scams, for instance, can result in identity theft and loss of confidential information, the GAO said, adding that several agencies -- including the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service -- had already fallen victim to phishers.
Similarly, spyware programs threaten the integrity of federal systems because of their ability to monitor and reconfigure the systems they infect, the report said. "The blending of these threats creates additional risks that cannot be easily mitigated with currently available tools," the GAO said.
Even so, a majority of the agencies have not yet begun addressing these threats as part of the information security programs they are required to implement under the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002.
In many instances, spyware, phishing and spam are not even considered security threats. For example, 19 of the 24 agencies reported productivity and bandwidth-related issues resulting from spam e-mail, while only one agency identified it as a potential security problem. Similarly, 17 of the 24 agencies reported that they had not assessed the risk posed to their networks by phishing. And reports provided by 20 agencies showed that all of those agencies lack a formal incident response plan for dealing with phishing and spyware.
There was also little consistency in the way agencies report problems. Some reported them to the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), as required, while others reported incidents to law enforcement agencies. Still others did not report incidents outside their agencies at all. Neither the Office of Management and Budget nor the Department of Homeland Security -- the entities responsible for coordinating the government's response to cyberthreats -- has
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts