Cybersecurity Gaps Plague US State Division, GAO Report Warns

The US Division of State should absolutely implement its cybersecurity danger program and take extra steps to raised defend its IT community and methods, a 92-page report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) warns.

The State Division has accomplished the authorization course of for lower than half (44%) its almost 500 info methods, and has but to implement a department-wide steady monitoring system.

On the optimistic aspect, the division has recognized danger administration roles and tasks and developed a cyber danger administration technique.

Nonetheless, “until the department implements required risk management activities, it lacks assurance that its security controls are operating as intended,” the report famous. “Moreover, State is likely not fully aware of information security vulnerabilities and threats affecting mission operations.”

And people threats are possible myriad.

State Dept. Faces Rafts of Excellent Cyber To-Dos

The report, which varieties a part of the GAO’s intensive work on the US authorities’s cybersecurity and data safety challenges, tallied 15 suggestions for govt actions that stay excellent.

Before everything amongst them is the advice that the State Division instruct the CIO to develop and keep a department-wide danger profile prioritizing the division’s most important dangers.

Following that, the State Division should develop plans to mitigate the vulnerabilities tallied by the CIO, after which conduct bureau-level danger assessments for the 28 bureaus that owned info methods the GAO reviewed.

The report famous the division additionally faces challenges in implementing its incident response program, updating and testing info system contingency plans, and configuring its stock database correctly.

An enchancment of the general IT infrastructure safety is crucial, together with changing outdated {hardware} and software program installations, a few of which have been in use for greater than 13 years.

“This includes replacing the 23,689 hardware systems and 3,102 occurrences of network and server operating system software installations,” the report famous.

The State Division’s CIO additionally faces limitations in securing IT methods as a consequence of shared administration tasks and poor communication, the report added.

Whereas the CIO oversees the primary community and units requirements, particular person bureaus deal with many duties independently, together with tools purchases, IT system administration, and funding.

The report concluded this lack of coordination additionally results in confusion amongst info system safety officers relating to necessities.

These deficiencies are largely a results of the division’s remoted tradition and insufficient communication between the CIO and the person bureaus.

“Until State addresses these and other deficiencies, the CIO faces challenges managing and overseeing the department’s cybersecurity program, including risk management and incident response, and the department’s systems remain vulnerable,” the report warned.

In the meantime, a looming shutdown of the federal authorities threatens to trigger extra cybersecurity problems throughout a number of businesses and departments, with the CISA stating it might furlough more than 80% of staff indefinitely if Congress cannot attain an settlement to fund the federal authorities.

Infrastructure at Threat From International Threats

The report follows the profitable assault of 25 US authorities businesses by Chinese language hackers — together with the State Division — in Might, ensuing within the theft of 60,000 emails from senior officers.

Within the electronic mail breach, a stolen Microsoft account (MSA) key allowed the Storm-0558 APT to forge authentication tokens to masquerade as licensed Azure Active Directory (AD) usersacquiring entry to Microsoft 365 enterprise electronic mail accounts and the doubtless delicate info contained inside.

In April 2022, the State Division introduced the creation of a Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy to assist form norms of accountable authorities habits in our on-line world and assist US allies bolster their very own cybersecurity packages, reflecting the rising significance of cybersecurity in nationwide coverage, financial system, and protection.

Author: Nathan Eddy, Contributing Author, Darkish Studying
Date: 2023-09-29 13:03:04

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Alina A, Toronto
Alina A, Toronto
Alina A, an UofT graduate & Google Certified Cyber Security analyst, currently based in Toronto, Canada. She is passionate for Research and to write about Cyber-security related issues, trends and concerns in an emerging digital world.


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