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Watchdog: Accountability

Federal agencies aren't doing enough to stop hackers: report

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Watchdog,Kelly Cohen,Accountability,GAO,Computer hacking,Cybersecurity,Technology

Despite an increase in cyberattacks over the past few years, federal agencies are still not doing enough to thwart them.

When responding to a cyber incident -- such as a security breach of a computer system -- 24 agencies did not do so correctly in 2012, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

Why is the response to a cyberattack so important?

"The unauthorized disclosure, alteration, and destruction of the information on those systems can result in great harm to those involved," according to the GAO report.

In 2013, there were more than 46,000 cyber attacks across all federal agencies, according to the Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team — an increase of more than 10,000 from the prior year.

But the failure to manage the cyber issues in 2012 carried over to last year, and so on, the GAO report reveals.

In about 65 percent of the reported cyberattacks in 2012, the agencies "did not effectively or consistently demonstrate actions taken in response," according to GAO.

The initial analysis of an incident should identify enough information for the agency to plan for its next move, which includes containing the issue, analyzing it and preventing re-occurrence.

GAO recommended the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the secretary of Homeland Security address the issues with the agencies and better emphasize to them how important it is to properly respond to a cyber incident.

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