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Policy: Technology

Data breaches happen too often in federal computer systems, says new Hill report

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Watchdog,National Security,Kelly Cohen,Inspectors General,Tom Coburn,Accountability,Computer hacking,Cybersecurity,Technology

Serious digital vulnerabilities continue to nag the federal government, according to a new report from the minority staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Weaknesses in the federal government's own cybersecurity have put at risk the electrical grid, our financial markets, our emergency response systems and our citizens' personal information,” said Sen. Tom Coburn.

The Oklahoma Republican released the report Tuesday. He is the ranking minority member of the committee.

The report points to more than 40 audits, investigations and reviews by agency inspectors general, the Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs.

Simple fixes like using stronger passwords and updating out-of-date software would fix many of the problems, the report said.

Among the problems noted in the report are unprotected data being stored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission exposing networks supporting the New York Stock Exchange, and hacking of the Emergency Broadcast System to falsely alert cities of zombie attacks.

Sensitive personal and official information contained in federal computer systems was compromised at the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, Labor, Energy and Commerce; as well as at independent agencies like NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Personnel Management, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Copyright Office and the National Weather Service.

The Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank, has also had problems protecting personal and official information held in its computer systems.

View the full report here.

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Author:

Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner