Audit Finds Lapses In Federal Cybersecurity: Readiness Team Not Ready Itself

Shaun Waterman, of the Washington Times, reports that government auditors have found that systems at the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) "were not maintained with updates and security patches in a timely fashion and as a result were riddled with vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit." According to the article, dated September 9, 2010, the auditor's report "said the issues of inadequate and untimely patching had been raised by [an older] review of the systems."  

Although security officials have said that since the audit, the vulnerabilities have been fixed, with "new procedures and equipment . . . to ensure the systems will be kept up to date," the article quotes a former Homeland Security official who says "'[p]atch management doesn't work.'" The official, who asked not to be named, is quoted as saying "'[t]here is no network that is 100 percent patched.  Eighty-five percent . . . is a good number.'" The most recent report does not quantify the percentage of machines patched on the US-CERT network. According to the Times, the unnamed official blames the vulnerabilities on the wall between IT and mission-owners.

"'It is a classic pothole of IT being segregated away from the mission-owner. IT management issues often fall towards the bottom of the to-do list.  It is not sexy work.'"  

Another specialist, also speaking anonymously, painted the issue as a "'management/leadership issue.'" Additionally, making the issue public, according to this specialist, only serves to "undermine the agency's reputation among security professionals."  "'It's a credibility issue, and you have to be on your 'A' game when it comes to setting the example.'"

The complete Washington Times article can be found at the link above, or here.  

Possible question for class:

Given the oft-repeated statement that cyberspace is the next key battlefield, and is in need of the same U.S. presence as land, air, sea, and space, what should we make of the results of the government's audit?    

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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