Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

5/23/2013
02:39 PM
50%
50%

DHS Warns Employees Of Potential Breach Of Private Data

A vulnerability in software used by a DHS vendor potentially exposed information ranging from Social Security numbers to names and birthdays

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is warning current and former employees that their data may have been compromised after a vulnerability was uncovered in software used by a DHS vendor to process personnel security investigations. According to DHS, the unidentified vendor uses software that gathers and stores sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) for background investigations. As a result, the vulnerability could have left information ranging from Social Security numbers, names, and birth dates exposed to an unauthorized user.

"DHS believes that employees who submitted background investigation information, and individuals who received a DHS clearance, between July 2009 and May 2013, primarily for positions at DHS HQ, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), may be affected," the agency warns. "While at this time, there is no evidence that any unauthorized user accessed any personally identifiable information, applicants’ names, Social Security numbers (SSN), and date of birth (DOB) may have been accessible."

DHS was alerted to the vulnerability by a law enforcement partner, and it was immediately addressed. The department is also working with the vendor on notifications for current contractors, inactive applicants, and former employees and contractors.

"Employees can protect themselves by requesting that a fraud alert be placed on their credit file to let potential creditors know to contact them before opening a new account in their name," according to DHS. "The company you contact will contact the other two credit bureaus on the employee’s behalf to have the fraud alert placed on their file."

The vulnerability disclosure by the DHS is the latest example of the need for government agencies and enterprises to monitor and manage IT security risks downstream in the software supply chain, says Torsten George, vice president of worldwide marketing, products, and support for IT risk management Agiliance.

"Since many organizations have hardened defense mechanisms against direct attacks targeting their front-office applications or network infrastructure, hackers are increasingly focusing on the IT supply chain as a new attack vector," he says. "In the past, many organizations relied on software vendors to test for vulnerabilities in their code base. However, as cyberattacks against the software supply chain increase, we expect organizations to extend their vulnerability assessments beyond vendor risk surveys and have third-party service providers test software applications prior to procurement and deployment."

"This will completely change the way we think about vulnerability management," he adds.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that DHS is developing a system to share classified data about software vulnerabilities with the private sector.

"Rapidly deploying application and operating system patches is an excellent preventive medicine toward making your systems less attractive targets for hackers," notes Rapid7's Ross Barrett, senior manager of security engineering. "If you are running something with known vulnerabilities on the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before someone will try to take advantage of that."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Brian Prince is a freelance writer for a number of IT security-focused publications. Prior to becoming a freelance reporter, he worked at eWEEK for five years covering not only security, but also a variety of other subjects in the tech industry. Before that, he worked as a ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Andrew Hornback
50%
50%
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/25/2013 | 10:28:46 PM
re: DHS Warns Employees Of Potential Breach Of Private Data
Wait a minute... so, you're saying that a vendor that the DHS (and possibly other parts of the Federal Government) uses can't protect sensitive data? Or is this a ploy to get more of a budget and bring this application in-house instead of farming it out to a vendor? Hmm...

Then there's this whole thing about the DoJ siezing the AP's phone records. How about we just cut out the middle man here and have the AP post their phone records on-line somewhere for everyone to see? Can't leak what's already public...

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
10 Ways to Keep a Rogue RasPi From Wrecking Your Network
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  7/10/2019
The Security of Cloud Applications
Hillel Solow, CTO and Co-founder, Protego,  7/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Planned vacation simulation
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
couchcms 2 is affected by: Web Site physical path leakage. The impact is: disclosure the full path. The component is: includes/mysql2i/mysql2i.func.php and addons/phpmailer/phpmailer.php. The attack vector is: network connectivity.
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
borg-reducer c6d5240 is affected by: Buffer Overflow. The impact is: Possible code execution and denial of service. The component is: Output parameter within the executable.
CVE-2019-10103
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
Saleor Issue was introduced by merge commit: e1b01bad0703afd08d297ed3f1f472248312cc9c. This commit was released as part of 2.0.0 release is affected by: Incorrect Access Control. The impact is: Important. The component is: ProductVariant type in GraphQL API. The attack vector is: Unauthenticated use...
CVE-2019-10103
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
libmspack 0.9.1alpha is affected by: Buffer Overflow. The impact is: Information Disclosure. The component is: function chmd_read_headers() in libmspack(file libmspack/mspack/chmd.c). The attack vector is: the victim must open a specially crafted chm file. The fixed version is: after commit 2f084136...
CVE-2019-10103
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
Slanger 0.6.0 is affected by: Remote Code Execution (RCE). The impact is: A remote attacker can execute arbitrary commands by sending a crafted request to the server. The component is: Message handler & request validator. The attack vector is: Remote unauthenticated. The fixed version is: after ...