Homeland Security Gets F in Computer Security

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After Katrina, maybe we shouldn't be surprised to learn that the Department of Homeland Security--in charge of setting the government's agenda on cyber security--scored an F for its own cyber protection, for the third year in a row. Overall, government computer systems remain at roughly the same level of security that they had in 2004--an average score of a D+.

As online attacks against consumers and businesses have skyrocketed, so have assaults against government information systems. Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute, said a number of federal computer systems have been badly penetrated by hackers and viruses over the past several years, in part because many agencies do not adequately monitor their systems or apply software security updates in a timely manner.

Several agencies saw a considerable drop in their scores. The Department of Justice went from a B- in 2004 to a D in 2005, while Interior earned failing marks after getting a C+ in 2004.

However, many agencies showed marked improvement in meeting federal computer security requirements. The National Science Foundation and the General Services Administration each saw their scores rise from a C+ in 2004 to an A last year. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labor earned A+ grades in 2005, up from B and B- respectively.

Darn those do-gooders for screwing up the curve! What's that? You say cyber terrorists don't grade on a curve? Have they NO respect for the great American tradition of only doing whatever it takes to squeak by?

Some government excuses sound awfully familiar:

"No one could have anticipated the breaches in the levees."
"I didn't know there was going to be a pop quiz!"

"Bin Laden Determined to Attack inside the United States"
"This will be on the test."

"Harriet Myers is the best-qualified person I could find to serve on the Supreme Court, but we don't want to submit her White House papers to the Judiciary Committee, so she's withdrawing."
"I didn't want to be a cheerleader anyway. My position as Yearbook Editor is much more important."

"You're doin' a heckuva job, Brownie!"
"My last teacher said I was a great writer!"

More details about the security issues.




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