Energy Department Hacked Nearly 200 Times In Last Year

While the U.S. Department of Energy has made strides in its efforts to bolster its IT security defenses, a report released this week by the department's Office of Inspector General concludes that much work needs to be done to effectively lower the risk of attack to the department's networks and systems.

The report evaluates the state of the Energy Department's cybersecurity programs. It reveals that the department's systems were compromised 199 times in fiscal 2004 and those intrusions affected 3,531 systems. "Without continuing vigilance in this area, it is likely that future attacks will continue to jeopardize the availability and integrity of critical information technology assets," the report says.

The report highlighted three areas of weakness in the Energy Department's security program:

- The department has not completed certification and accreditation of each major system to identify and mitigate risks to those systems.
- There is no prepared contingency plan to ensure mission-critical systems could continue or resume operations in the event of an emergency or disaster.
- Not all of the Energy Department sites have ensured that adequate security control were in place at all times.

"Specifically, we observed continuing problems with ensuring that only authorized individuals could access information resources, duties, and responsibilities for processing financial transactions were properly segregated, and that known security vulnerabilities were corrected," the report says.

The report did note some good news. In fiscal year 2002, the Energy Department's Inspector General noted 69 cybersecurity weaknesses within the department. That number was more than halved in this year's report to 32 weaknesses.

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