Risk
9/9/2010
12:02 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Federal Cyber Watchdog Bombs Cybersecurity Audit

Department of Homeland Security inspector general says US-CERT isn't properly patching and securing its systems or complying with policy.




Slideshow: Next Generation Defense Technologies
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), the federal agency tasked with compiling and disseminating information and technical assistance about cybersecurity incidents to both the government and public, doesn't have its own cybersecurity entirely in order, according to a review by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) auditors.

The review looked into US-CERT's four main IT systems, including the Mission Operating Environment (MOE), Einstein, the Homeland Security Information Network (the agency's portal), and the agency's public website. The MOE allows US-CERT personnel to exchange and access security incident data and system anomalies. Einstein includes intrusion detection and network flow monitoring systems mandated for use by federal agencies.

While the MOE server rooms require smartcards for access and are monitored by video, the DHS's inspector general warned that the MOE systems themselves suffered from hundreds of high-risk vulnerabilities. The inspector general used Tenable Network Security's Nessus vulnerability scanning software to discover a total of 540 vulnerabilities on MOE systems, including 202 that were deemed to be "high-risk," meaning that they "can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data."

"MOE application and operating system vulnerabilities that are not mitigated could compromise the Einstein data accessed through the system," the report said. "These vulnerabilities could lead to arbitrary code execution, buffer overflow, escalation of privileges, and denial-of-service attacks."

The vulnerabilities, the report said, generally result from inadequate application patching, despite edicts from DHS and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to keep software patches up-to-date. The problems include vulnerabilities in Microsoft applications, Adobe Acrobat, and Sun Java running on both Windows and Red Hat Linux operating systems.

While auditors were carrying out their review, MOE application patches were being applied manually, rather than automatically, and because MOE consists of hundreds of machines, this process was arduous and patches weren't getting applied quickly or universally. This has since changed, as the National Cyber Security Division (the agency that operates US-CERT) recently deployed software management systems that can automatically patch software. NCSD has also patched the identified vulnerabilities.

The report found that, contrary to Federal Information Security Management Act requirements, NCSD hadn't updated the status of known security weaknesses as part of its cybersecurity plan. It also hadn't established adequate cybersecurity awareness or role-based cybersecurity training programs, as it hadn't identified required security courses and focus areas for system administrators and contractors and hadn't appointed a cybersecurity training coordinator.

In addition, NCSD's staff hadn't reviewed or approved FISMA-required certification and accreditation documentation and conducted only incomplete self-assessments of the agency's cybersecurity systems. It also wasn't complying with DHS policies for firewall testing and physical security of server rooms.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-2413
Published: 2014-10-20
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the ja_purity template for Joomla! 1.5.26 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the Mod* cookie parameter to html/modules.php.

CVE-2012-5244
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) return, (2) display, (3) table, or (4) search parameter to functions/suggest.php; (5) the id parameter to functions/widgets.php, (6) the category parameter to...

CVE-2012-5694
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) before 0.1.3 allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) agentPhNo, (2) controlPhNo, (3) agentURLPath, (4) agentControlKey, or (5) platformDD1 parameter to frameworkgui/attach2Agents.p...

CVE-2012-5695
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) 0.1.2 through 0.1.4 allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that conduct (1) shell metacharacter or (2) SQL injection attacks or (3) send an SMS m...

CVE-2012-5696
Published: 2014-10-20
Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) before 0.1.3 does not properly restrict access to frameworkgui/config, which allows remote attackers to obtain the plaintext database password via a direct request.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.