By Alice Lipowicz
Despite improvements, the Homeland Security Department continues to
display significant information security weaknesses that jeopardize the
integrity and privacy of department IT programs, according to a new report
 released by DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.
The IT Management Letter is part of the fiscal 2005 Financial Statement
Audit, which was performed by KPMG LLP accounting firm. The inspector
general released it in a redacted form to prevent disclosure of sensitive
According to the 77-page management letter, the most significant IT
control weaknesses at the agency involve entitywide security, access
controls and service continuity.
"Collectively, these IT control weaknesses limit DHS' ability to ensure
that critical financial and operational data is maintained in such a
manner to ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability," the report
The management letter described the problems as materials weaknesses for
financial system security under standards accepted by the Government
Accountability Office, which is an arm of Congress.
The audit found a lack of certifications and accreditations; missing and
weak user passwords on key servers and databases; absence of necessary
security patches; and configurations in which users were not automatically
logged off following usage, among other problems.
The IT management later looked at Customs and Border Protection, the Coast
Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transportation Security
Administration, and other agencies.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer for Government Computer News' sister
publication, Washington Technology.
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