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GAO Report: NASA Still Facing Weaknesses In IT Security

Sensitive information, systems at space agency continue to be at risk, testimony says

NASA made history earlier this week by releasing up-close pictures of Pluto. Here on Earth, however, it's the space agency's IT systems and security practices that need a closer look.

That's the conclusion of testimony (PDF) offered to the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday by Cristina Chaplain, director of acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO, which upbraided NASA for security weaknesses in a report back in October, says the space agency still hasn't brought its security programs into line with previous recommendations.

NASA's shortfalls in IT security, which are partly the result of budgeting issues, increase "the risk of unauthorized access to NASA's sensitive information, as well as inadvertent or deliberate disruption of its system operations," Chaplain says.

NASA officials say the department is initiating a broad program to improve IT security, incorporating many of the auditors' recommendations. The space agency is conducting physical risk assessments and comprehensive security testing, as well as deploying a better incident detection program, they say.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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