[ISN] GAO: SEC systems vulnerable to attack

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Mon Mar 28 2005 - 01:57:56 PST


By David Perera
March 25, 2005 

Computer networks at the Securities and Exchange Commission remain
vulnerable to hacking, a Government Accountability Office report

Data at risk includes regulatory information, SEC financial
transactions and internal payroll and personnel information, the
report states.

Security is getting more attention these days because of high-profile
cases involving Bank of America, information gatherers ChoicePoint and
LexisNexis, where unauthorized people were able to access personal

During the period of GAO's review, from April though November 2004, 
the commission's network intrusion-detection system was not fully 
implemented and "there was no capability to target unusual or 
suspicious network events for review as they occurred," the report 

Network services and devices were vulnerable, outdated, and/or 
misconfigured, the report also states. 

During one examination of SEC security controls, GAO auditors found an 
internal SEC network-connected computer located inside a public area. 
Some former employees also retained network access, including one 
former employee who could still log onto SEC systems for eight months 
after departing the commission. 

The congressional watchdog also found that some SEC network users 
could bypass security and audit controls altogether. 

A key reason for the commission's security weaknesses is its lack of a 
comprehensive information security program, the report states. 
Although the agency has established a central security group and 
appointed a senior information security officer, SEC officials have 
yet to complete a comprehensive risk assessment and develop adequate 
policies, the report states. 

Each year, the SEC processes more than 600,000 financial documents and 
collects more than $1 billion in filing fees, penalties and 
disgorgements in fulfilling its mission to oversee U.S. security 

GAO auditors are not alone in noting SEC security weaknesses; a fiscal 
2004 SEC inspector general audit found the commission substantially 
out of compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act 
of 2002. 

SEC officials said the commission recognizes the need to further its 
existing programs and will complete the corrective actions identified 
by GAO auditors by June 2006. Significant progress is already 
underway, adds the official commission response to the GAO findings.

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