Oct 01 2015

Report Reveals That Improved IT Will Aid DHS’ Cybersecurity Practices

The agency’s Inspector General found issues in protecting against cyberattacks.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is entrusted with protecting the United States from all threats. The agency is looked to as a leader when it comes to defense, but a recent report found it needs stronger internal communications and better IT systems for dealing with cyberattacks.

Released in September, the report from DHS Inspector General John Roth found inefficiencies in how it shares information with three subagencies: the Secret Service, National Protection and Programs Directorate, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As FedScoop reports, Roth determined that DHS needs a unified cyber strategy.

“While our audit showed improved coordination between DHS components in carrying out their cybersecurity functions, we have identified duplication of effort and lack of effective policies and controls,” Roth said.

To help eliminate this concern, the report says that DHS officials need to better understand the cybersecurity duties of each agency.

Aside from faulty processes, the report also noted software and network vulnerabilities. As a result, there’s no way to share information about attacks or threats in real time:  

The report also criticizes DHS for failing to have a real-time incident information sharing capability across its entire enterprise, in line with the Structured Threat Information Expression/Trusted Automated Exchange of Indicator Information (STIX/TAXII) systems used to investigate incidents tied to the agency’s work.

To address the concerns, DHS intends to create what FedScoop described as “in-house capability” to shore up its network infrastructure, which should be active by the end of August 2016. Other technical weaknesses will be addressed by the end of the year. Updating its IT solutions will be instrumental in helping the agency protect itself against cyberthreats.


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