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Coburn Blasts Homeland Security IT Weaknesses

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tom Coburn on Monday criticized the Department of Homeland Security after a new report showed significant information technology vulnerabilities at the agency.

The Oklahoma Republican, who serves as ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, pointed to an inspector general report showing that while some progress has been made in the cybersecurity area, “components are still not executing all of the Department’s policies, procedures, and practices.”

“This report shows major gaps in DHS’ own cybersecurity, including some of the most basic protections that would be obvious to any 13-year-old with a laptop. DHS doesn’t use strong authentication,” Coburn said. “It relies on antiquated software that’s full of holes. Its components don’t report security incidents when they should. They don’t keep track of weaknesses when they’re found, and they don’t fix them in time to make a difference.”

Coburn said his statement that the findings about the Homeland Security Department were just one example of broader issues in the federal IT systems.

“The fact is the federal government’s classified and unclassified networks are dangerously insecure, putting at risk not only U.S. national security, but the nation’s critical infrastructure and vast amounts of our citizens’ personally identifiable information,” Coburn said.

The IG report comes with Jeh Johnson awaiting confirmation to be the next secretary of Homeland Security. Several GOP senators have placed holds on the nomination, meaning that Senate Democrats may have to use time-consuming procedural maneuvers to get Johnson on the job.

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