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Top investigator: America's cybersecurity 'stinks'

Top investigator: America's cybersecurity 'stinks'
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

The federal government's cybersecurity situation is a mess. But, that's no surprise. We all know about the Office of Personnel Management hacks that have put the sensitive information of countless government employees at risk. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz called a hearing to investigate the problem, and he doesn't like what he sees.

“It stinks. It doesn’t work,” said House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who called the hearing to demand answers — though few were forthcoming in the public session.

It turns out government officials were warned about cybersecurity shortcomings in the computer network that was eventually hacked and the inspector general suggested the network should be shut down. The system was riddled with security holes, including unencrypted Social Security numbers and outdated security authorizations.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta says that some of the information in the computer system couldn't be encrypted because it was too old. She also claimed that shutting down the entire network would have impeded the OPM's ability to do its job. But, Chaffetz wasn't accepting that excuse.

“The inspector general was right. Your systems were vulnerable. The data was not encrypted, it could be compromised. They were right last year. They recommended you shut it down, and you didn’t. I want to know why,” the congressman demanded.

Archuleta defended the OPM, saying that it fights off 100 million hack attempts every year and that the data breaches in question likely occurred before the inspector general suggested shutting down the network in late 2014.

Government officials are still trying to find out exactly how many employees are affected by the hacks, and Archuleta didn't provide many answers during the hearing. She also stated she couldn't tell Chaffetz and the others in attendance whether or not sensitive information belonging to CIA agents was compromised.

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