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.

Risk

GAO: Many Federal Agencies Still Don't Meet Security Standards

'Persistent weaknesses' may leave key agencies vulnerable to attack or compromise, report says

Virtually all of the U.S. federal government's key civilian agencies are still falling short of the security marks they have been asked to meet, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In a report (PDF) issued earlier today, the GAO says of the 24 agencies reviewed, almost all had deficiencies in security controls and management, "leaving them vulnerable to attack or compromise." The GAO says it has made "hundreds" of recommendations to the agencies, yet many have not been addressed.

During the past three years, the number of incidents reported by federal agencies to U.S.-CERT has increased by almost 200 percent -- from 5,503 in 2006 to 16,843 in 2008, according to the report. More than one-third of the incidents are still under investigation, and the sources of the compromises are not yet known.

Of the incidents in which the sources are known, approximately 22 percent were caused by improper use of computers by authorized users, the report states. Eighteen percent of the compromises were caused by unauthorized access, and 14 percent were caused by malicious code. About 12 percent of the breaches were caused by scans, probes, or attempted access by external attackers, the report says.

Of the 24 agencies reviewed, 13 reported "significant deficiencies" in information security, the GAO says. Seven agencies reported "material weaknesses" that still have not been repaired. Only four agencies reported "no significant weakness," the report states.

Virtually all of the agencies are still showing weaknesses in access control -- the ability to ensure only authorized individuals can read, alter, or delete data -- and all of the agencies are still short on their implementations of broad security management programs that include risk management, the GAO says.

Most of the agencies are still struggling in their efforts to deploy user identification and authentication that might prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to sensitive data, the report states. Many agencies also have failed to deploy least-privilege strategies that would limit users' access to data unless it is expressly needed for their jobs, the GAO says.

The federal government has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve its security -- including the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, the Federal Desktop Core Configuration guidelines, and the Trusted Internet Connections Initiative -- that may help mitigate the vulnerabilities, the GAO says. However, many agencies have had "mixed results" in their efforts to raise security awareness and implement specialized security training, the report says.

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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-20027
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
A buffer overflow vulnerability in SonicOS allows a remote attacker to cause a Denial of Service (DoS) by sending a specially crafted request. This vulnerability affects SonicOS Gen5, Gen6, Gen7 platforms, and SonicOSv virtual firewalls.
CVE-2021-32684
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
magento-scripts contains scripts and configuration used by Create Magento App, a zero-configuration tool-chain which allows one to deploy Magento 2. In versions 1.5.1 and 1.5.2, after changing the function from synchronous to asynchronous there wasn't implemented handler in the start, stop, exec, an...
CVE-2021-34693
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
net/can/bcm.c in the Linux kernel through 5.12.10 allows local users to obtain sensitive information from kernel stack memory because parts of a data structure are uninitialized.
CVE-2021-27887
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the main dashboard of Ellipse APM versions allows an authenticated user or integrated application to inject malicious data into the application that can then be executed in a victim’s browser. This issue affects: Hitachi ABB Power Grids ...
CVE-2021-27196
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
Improper Input Validation vulnerability in Hitachi ABB Power Grids Relion 670 Series, Relion 670/650 Series, Relion 670/650/SAM600-IO, Relion 650, REB500, RTU500 Series, FOX615 (TEGO1), MSM, GMS600, PWC600 allows an attacker with access to the IEC 61850 network with knowledge of how to reproduce the...