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.

Cloud

3/29/2018
09:00 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

US Election Swing States Score Low Marks in Cybersecurity

C and D grades for Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Ohio, SecurityScorecard assessment shows.

Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Ohio each earned either C or D averages in their cybersecurity posture, according to new data from a security ratings firm.

SecurityScorecard in its annual report on US, state, and local government-sector security studied the states' state of security in endpoint, IP reputation, network, and patching, and found them seriously lacking. Florida and Ohio earned a C grade overall; New Hampshire, Nevada, and an undisclosed city in Michigan each scored a D average; and one unnamed county in Florida scored a C, while one in Ohio earned a D.

The grading system is based on SecurityScorecard's benchmarking platform, which aggregates data from millions of sensors across the Internet that gather and analyze public-facing security postures of IP addresses and identifiable software versions and services, and then maps them to organizations, including browser versions and patching cadence. "We're looking at what a hacker would look it" online, says Alex Heid, chief research officer at SecurityScorecard. The firm analyzed the security posture of 655 government agencies, each of which had more than 100 public-facing IP addresses.

Among the systems spotted in the analysis were state and local voter registration systems, many of which run older legacy software that contains common Web vulnerabilities such as SQL injection and remote code execution bugs, Heid says. But even if a malicious hacker were to detect and hack into one of those systems, it wouldn't necessarily affect the voting process, he says, even if he or she changed some names and information, because those systems typically have backups and lots of redundancy.

"The bigger risk is an innocuous Web app compromise on a server that is then used to pivot to the rest of the network behind the firewall," Heid notes. "If the voter registration server is on the same server as the county court system payments," for example, that would be exposed, he says.

The states' grades are based on a snapshot in time for the government agencies' security postures and doesn't necessarily mean those states are poorly secured or that any states with A's are secure. "It's fluid and indicates how they are doing at that time," he says. "Everyone has vulnerabilities and exploitable conditions. It's measured based on how quickly they respond to those conditions."

The fact that New Hampshire barely passed with a D doesn't mean elections held there are more hackable, for example, so the grades don't mean much in terms of the security of the 2018 elections, he says.

Dam Webcam
Among the exposed systems SecurityScorecard's study found was a city power plant server sitting on the public Internet that was accessible via a Web browser. "You see the dam's Web cam, and there's a big red button that says 'open dam,'" he says. The company contacted the site so it could remedy the exposure, he says.

Overall, government agencies score lower than most other sectors in endpoint security, network security, and patching cadence, according to the findings.

"Government has a lower grade, similar to university systems. It's not that they are bad at security," but more that governmental organizations typically have older systems in place and require more layers of approvals or patching and other updates, he says.

Related Content:

Interop ITX 2018

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop ITX. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop ITX 2018 agenda here.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
US Turning Up the Heat on North Korea's Cyber Threat Operations
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  9/16/2019
MITRE Releases 2019 List of Top 25 Software Weaknesses
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/17/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: "He's too shy to invite me out face to face!"
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
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-2019-16649
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-21
On Supermicro H11, H12, M11, X9, X10, and X11 products, a combination of encryption and authentication problems in the virtual media service allows capture of BMC credentials and data transferred over virtual media devices. Attackers can use captured credentials to connect virtual USB devices to the...
CVE-2019-16650
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-21
On Supermicro X10 and X11 products, a client's access privileges may be transferred to a different client that later has the same socket file descriptor number. In opportunistic circumstances, an attacker can simply connect to the virtual media service, and then connect virtual USB devices to the se...
CVE-2019-15138
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-20
The html-pdf package 2.2.0 for Node.js has an arbitrary file read vulnerability via an HTML file that uses XMLHttpRequest to access a file:/// URL.
CVE-2019-6145
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-20
Forcepoint VPN Client for Windows versions lower than 6.6.1 have an unquoted search path vulnerability. This enables local privilege escalation to SYSTEM user. By default, only local administrators can write executables to the vulnerable directories. Forcepoint thanks Peleg Hadar of SafeBreach Labs ...
CVE-2019-6649
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-20
F5 BIG-IP 15.0.0, 14.1.0-14.1.0.6, 14.0.0-14.0.0.5, 13.0.0-13.1.1.5, 12.1.0-12.1.4.1, 11.6.0-11.6.4, and 11.5.1-11.5.9 and Enterprise Manager 3.1.1 may expose sensitive information and allow the system configuration to be modified when using non-default ConfigSync settings.