Homeland Security Battered by Hackers
Michael Hoffman & Kristopher Kubicki
June 22, 2007 7:43 AM
The Department of Homeland Security continues to have major security issues
A group of hackers successfully penetrated Department of Homeland Security computer systems over a series of hundreds of attacks, according to a congressional panel. Congress admitted the branch suffered at least 844 hacker break-ins, virus and trojan outbreaks and other security issues over a period of two years -- many of which resulted in rootkits, backdoors and key loggers.
"It was a shock and a disappointment to learn that the Department of Homeland Security -- the agency charged with being the lead in our national cybersecurity -- has suffered so many significant security problems on its networks," said Representative James Langevin during the hearing.
Homeland Security CIO Scott Charbo sat on the hot seat while trying to defend his job during last week's panel. Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., claimed the reoccurring computer issues are a serious problem which must be fixed as soon as possible.
Charbo told Congress the department planned to spend as much as $332 million on computer security throughout 2007.
Computers used by the U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also were identified as infected. In perhaps the most egregious offense, the TSA lost a hard drive containing sensitive information of
its employee database
Scarbo promises the department is working to limit future computer security problems. Scarbo's largest plan, dubbed OneNet, consolidates all of the wide-area and virtual-private networks currently in use. The consolidation will eliminate the spaghetti infrastructure currently used for some of America's most sensitive civil data.
Other major amalgamations will follow OneNet, including database and email centralizations. Scarbo claims that in 2007 alone, the department corrected 7,000 security weaknesses in its infrastructure.
"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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