http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0901/092701j1.htm By Joshua Dean jdeanat_private September 27, 2001 The Transportation Department and its operating agencies are vulnerable to computer attacks, according to a newly released report from the departments inspector general. This report presents the first big picture on security at DOT, said David Barnes, spokesman for the IGs office. The report focuses primarily on security deficiencies in the Federal Aviation Administrations air traffic control system and on the Coast Guards disaster recovery capabilities. The report was required under the 2001 Government Information Security Reform Act, which mandated an annual independent evaluation of agencies information security programs. Investigators were most concerned about the FAAs planned upgrade to its telecommunications system and its repercussions on information security. The most significant network security issue we identified concerns FAAs plans to place its air traffic control systems, which now operate on a dedicated network, and its administrative systems on one integrated network with direct connections to the Internet, the report said. We found that while FAA asked vendors to propose security solutions for the integrated network, it did not adequately evaluate security for air traffic control systems. Of the FAAs 400 air traffic control systems, the IG found FAA planned only to certify 40 of those as being secure before awarding a contract to connect the agency to the Internet. The IG agreed with the FAAs goal of integrating all networks supporting air traffic control. However, the report encouraged the FAA to keep its administrative network separate from the air traffic control network. The FAA has since deferred awarding one contract pending resolution of the security issue, the report said. The IGs report also concluded that the Transportation Department as a whole was deficient in protecting information systems. We identified weaknesses in firewall security that allowed us to gain unauthorized access from the Internet to about 270 computers located within DOTs private networks, said the report. The IG also expressed concern about weaknesses in safeguarding access to computers at DOT agencies. The report identified numerous access weaknesses, such as systems that allowed unlimited password attempts or failed to make passwords expire on pre-established dates, a failure to prevent unauthorized remote access, a lack of encryption of financial data and weak oversight of contractors working on DOT information systems. Barnes noted that while the FAA has made significant strides in conducting background checks on contractors, other Transportation agencies have not. The FAA reported it has conducted background checks on 85 percent of its contractors, while the departments other agencies averaged just 25 percent. The report criticized Transportations critical infrastructure protection efforts and said its disaster recovery and system contingency plans were inadequate. The IGs office singled out the Coast Guard as a prime offender. If its main data center experiences prolonged service disruptions, [the] Coast Guard would have difficulty in recovering its search and rescue system, the report said. The IGs office acknowledged that the department has made strides in cybersecurity and protecting privacy. However, the report said, as evidenced by the recent Code Red worm attack, which caused service disruptions to more than 100 DOT computers, including Web sites, maintaining Web security and privacy protection remains a challenge. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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