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[ISN] GAO: FBI's internal network has critical security flaws


By Wade-Hahn Chan
May 24, 2007

The FBI could be exposing critical networks and information to attacks 
and insider threats, the Government Accountability Office says.

In a report published today [1], GAO found that the FBI uses inadequate 
information technology security controls on its critical internal 
networks. The combined security problems could lead to a breach of 
sensitive information or an insider attack, the report states.

The problems include:
* Inconsistent configurations for network devices.
* Inadequate control over identification and authentication to ensure 
  that only authorized individuals can access networks.
* Individuals ability to access information and functions outside what 
  they need to perform their jobs.
* Unencrypted sensitive data.
* Patches that were not installed in a timely manner.
* Employees not following physical security policies with their 

Additionally, although the FBI established the Enterprise Security 
Operations Center to monitor and protect information systems, the center 
could not effectively audit and monitor all security-related activity on 
the network.

These weaknesses place sensitive information transmitted on the network 
at risk of unauthorized disclosure or modification, and could result in 
a disruption of service, increasing the bureaus vulnerability to insider 
threats, the report states.

The report also notes that many of the FBIs insecurities could violate 
the Federal Information Security Management Act.

FBI Deputy Chief Information Officer Dean Hall concurred with many of 
the findings, but told GAO the bureau didnt believe the weaknesses added 
up to an increased risk to FBI information.

The FBI has made significant strides in reducing these risks by 
establishing policy, processes and procedures to ensure the 
confidentiality, integrity and availability of law enforcement, 
investigative and intelligence information, Hall said. 

[1] http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-368

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