Cybersecurity: A Bad Year For Government Agencies

Since 2013, the U.S. has experienced at least two dozen mass breaches of government computer systems. Internal investigative reports have shown that many federal agencies continue to lack discipline and necessary security provisions to repel the growing threat from hackers and countries notorious for conducting such attacks, such as Russia, Iran, and China. “The ugly truth is that the U.S. government hasn’t done much more than private industry to fortify itself against the growing threat of cyber warfare,” according to one of the nation’s premier cybersecurity experts. Over the past few months, inspectors have found that in departments such as the State Department and the Transportation Department, there have been widespread vulnerabilities detected. In a recent think tank report, there have been at least 23 publicly disclosed computer system breaches at federal agencies, experts saying the actual amount is much higher, some of which are never disclosed. With many agencies falling behind when it comes to system updates, federal networks are left more vulnerable to attacks. In the past few months alone, the State Department, U.S. Postal Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the White House have all experienced systems hacks in their networks. “The department, which holds many of the nation’s most sensitive diplomatic secrets and embassy cables, has failed to remedy several information system concerns that have piled up over several years,” says the State Department’s inspector general in a recent report. According to the inspector general’s office, 62 unresolved recommendations to make improvements, including 29 that date from 2013 were identified. Whether it be high costs, lack of monitoring, or security safety training programs, system shortcomings in a number of agencies in both the public and private sectors are continuously increasing. Recent reports have shown that there have been at least 26 known hacks on U.S. companies since last January, including companies like AT&T, Apple iCloud, Sony and UPS. When it comes to security breaches in agencies like the Department of Transportation, not only is the confidentiality of peoples’ information at risk, but the safety of peoples’ lives as well.