Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Security United States

800 Break-ins at Dept. of Homeland Security 276

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-i-feel-safer-already dept.
WrongSizeGlass writes "Yahoo is reporting about the computer security nightmare going on at the Department of Homeland Security. Senior DHS officials admitted to Congress that over a two year period there were 800 hacker break-ins, virus outbreaks and in one instance, hacker tools for stealing passwords and other files were found on two internal Homeland Security computer systems. I guess it's true what they say ... a mechanic's car is always the last to get fixed."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

800 Break-ins at Dept. of Homeland Security

Comments Filter:
  • I'll only say... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:29AM (#19579537) Homepage Journal
    That ending line is far too kind.

    "a mechanic's car is always the last to get fixed"
    Assumes that the DHS is somehow competent to fix anything at all.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:25AM (#19580553)
      Gotta agree with that. If they were competent, they'd have their own house in order.

      Just as anyone here who's competent with a computer has their systems up-to-date and tuned.
    • by danpsmith (922127) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:28AM (#19580619)
      I think the reason that people see any irony at all in these type of stories is the fact that they actually expect that the government is as good as its hyperreal image [wikipedia.org]. Of course government agencies aren't infallible, but to suggest this is to deny this hyperreal, overemphasized "we're efficient, intelligent and we know things about you you don't even know" public persona. Without a sufficient belief in the agencies like the CIA and the FBI, and the belief that they are actually more informed than the masses and that the government is more in the know than anyone is aware (unless they are in the government), people would want to know where all this security spending is going (which is a problem for anyone). The government is an inept, massive body of people that is unable to act upon information quickly due to its many layers of bureaucratic bullshit and the legality of everything. The only solution to this problem is to eliminate some of the bureaucracy (firing people, which, of course, can't be done), or to eliminate the red tape (legislation, which, if you eliminate too much becomes a Bush-like grab for power), neither of which will ever be done due to the nature of the politicians in charge. So the federal government, no matter what the politicians say will continue to grow as a monolithic, insecure and ineffective beast while feeding you the image of a secure, fast, intelligent and best of class organization and terrorists with their small but efficient plans will continue to find gaping holes in the system. And that's why irony in this case can be saved for the naive and the uninformed, the rest of us see things like this coming a mile away.
    • by Intron (870560) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:32AM (#19580703)
      Never mind competent. What exactly do they do? I can understand the purpose of the FBI, CIA, NSA, Treasury, FDA, FAA and SEC in law enforcement. What does DHS do that isn't covered already? The only thing I can find is publishing the threat level (currently Yellow = Run and Hide, except the airline industry is at Orange = Don't Bring Juice). Does anyone pay attention to that?

      Do we really need a whole beurocracy to make the various departments share information and cooperate with each other? Aren't they run by grownups?
      • by statusbar (314703) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:45AM (#19580953) Homepage Journal
        Homeland Security = Homeland Insecurity

        What they DO is they bring insecurity to every sector of government and society that they touch, in the name of "Security"

        It is all about optics... It doesn't matter that their computers are insecure... obviously the problem is that the fact that their computers are insecure should be a top-secret fact. It is not something that they feel needs to be fixed. They are only there for the illusion.

        --jeffk++
      • by hachete (473378) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:50AM (#19581063) Homepage Journal
        At times of great political crisis for the Republican Party, the threat level goes up.

        Troll or humour, I don't know meself.
      • by bberens (965711) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:50AM (#19581073)
        You see, the Department of Homeland Security is the 'People Person' of the national security industry. They take the top secret files from the FBI to the CIA. Usually their secretaries do it, but sometimes they do it personally. This is an important task so that the FBI doesn't have to deal with the CIA.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          We're putting new coversheets on all the secret files before they go out now. So if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that'd be great.
        • by Vancorps (746090)
          Besides the Office Space reference that is scarily similar to the original stated purposed for DHS. Since the issue of 9/11 was theoretically caused by the CIA not getting the proper information to the FBI. I could be mistaken, in which case I still enjoyed the reference.
      • by GrayCalx (597428)
        Do we really need a whole beurocracy to make the various departments share information and cooperate with each other?

        Since prior to the creation of DHS there was hardly any communication between the two... I would say yes, yes we do.
      • by Colin Smith (2679)

        Do we really need a whole beurocracy to make the various departments share information and cooperate with each other? Aren't they run by grownups?
        What do you mean need? They're politicians. You gave them the money. Need doesnt't come into it.

         
      • by droopycom (470921) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:29PM (#19584063)
        TSA (Not covered by CIA, FBI or other Law Enforcement)
        FEMA
        Customs and Border Protection
        Immigration (Former INS)
        Secret Service (Not covered by CIA, FBI or any other Law Enforcement)
        Coast Guards (Not covered by CIA, FBI or other Law Enforcement)

        I'm no fan of them, but how about you take a look at their website if you want to know what they are supposed to do:

        http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/editorial_0644 .shtm [dhs.gov]

        • Already covered.... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:31PM (#19584979)

          Secret Service (Not covered by CIA, FBI or any other Law Enforcement) Treasury Department, which is why they go after counterfiters

          Coast Guards (Not covered by CIA, FBI or other Law Enforcement) Commerce Department, except during times of way, when hey become part of the DOD.

          And FEMA used to be independent and have an almost cabinet level leader.

        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @03:57PM (#19585325) Homepage Journal
          "TSA (Not covered by CIA, FBI or other Law Enforcement)>

          FEMA>

          Customs and Border Protection>

          Immigration (Former INS)>

          Secret Service (Not covered by CIA, FBI or any other Law Enforcement)>

          Coast Guards (Not covered by CIA, FBI or other Law Enforcement)>

          >

          I'm no fan of them, but how about you take a look at their website if you want to know what they are supposed to do"

          Well, they don't seem to be doing very well at many of their tasks....

          • TSA - Mostly act at a PITA, and don't seem to know or want to show the applicable laws (like not having to show ID)
          • FEMA - First hand observation of them and their continued incompetance in New Orleans. Fortunately I've not had to deal that much with them myself, but, I feel for the people that have. I worry for the next community that gets hit by a disaster, if NOLA is any indication how they act, you're in for a lot of trouble and heartache.
          • Customs and Border Protection - Well, I think we ALL know how bad a failure this is....the people flooding in from down south hasn't slowed a bit, even though the majority of the US wants the borders secured.
          • Immigration (Former INS) - Well, this obviously doesn't work at all. People wanting to get in legally can't seem to hardly work the system, and we're certainly NOT deporting people here illegally we find and catch. I think the last reference to this working was in the original Cheech and Chong movie, Up in Smoke. The INS gave them a free ride to Mexico, last time I heard of INS every sending someone home that wasn't here legally.
          • Secret Service (Not covered by CIA, FBI or any other Law Enforcement) - Ok...they seem to do ok, but, then again, they were great before DHS oversight.
          • Coast Guards (Not covered by CIA, FBI or other Law Enforcement) - Good before DHS, and so far, no signs of bastardization...keep up the good work boys.

          YEah...lots of progress with DHS. Lots of nothing....

    • by shoptroll (544006)
      I was just gonna say that.

      I would be more worried if this was happening at the NSA. Only goes to further prove that DHS was an ill-conceived extra layer of bureaucracy added at the spur of the moment to make American's feel warm and fuzzy at a critical moment.
  • Big assumption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tony (765) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:30AM (#19579557) Journal
    I guess it's true what they say ... a mechanic's car is always the last to get fixed.

    That's very true.

    Especially when the mechanic is incompetent, and more interested in throwing around political weight than actually trying to accomplish anything useful.
    • Re:Big assumption (Score:4, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:41AM (#19580875) Journal

      Especially when the mechanic is incompetent, more interested in throwing around political weight than actually trying to accomplish anything useful.
      You show me a mechanic who has to deal with multiple bureaucracies to get things done & I'll show you a mechanic who has to build up and throw around 'political' influence in order to get results.

      If the Dept of Homeland Security was a car, it'd have incompatible parts from every car manufactured over the last hundred years.

      What's with the car analogies anyways?
      They usually suck.
      • Re:Big assumption (Score:4, Insightful)

        by misanthrope101 (253915) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:55AM (#19581209)
        Not only that, but the car would be made of incompatible parts that the auto makers coughed up when they were directed to hand over parts to a competing agency--i.e. the parts that the company found least useful and valuable. There aren't many bosses who, when told to give up people, wouldn't use it as an excuse to jettison all the incompetents, whiners, bullies, and troublemakers they couldn't manage to fire earlier. So the DHS is comprised of rejects, and has no discernable mission, and has to deal with bureaucratic infighting.
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @02:11PM (#19583757) Journal

          I can see it now.

          DHS Mechanic: Umm... why does this car have five steering wheels and no brakes?

          FBI Engineer: Oh, it's okay. We determined that you didn't need brakes. All you have to do is put your feet down through the missing section of floor there and drag them until you stop.

          DHS Mechanic: Won't that break your legs?

          FBI Engineer: Oh, you wanted a safe car? You should have specified that on requisition form 27B-6.

          Yeah.... Our government at its finest.

      • by An ominous Cow art (320322) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @12:14PM (#19581599) Journal

        What's with the car analogies anyways?
        They usually suck.
        A good car analogy is like a car that lasts many years, without excessive maintenance bills, gets good mileage, is safe, roomy, and stylish.

        A bad car analogy is like a lemon.
    • Anybody notice how similar mechanics can be to IT support? The jobs are similar even if the skill set is not.
  • I guess it's true what they say ... a mechanic's car is always the last to get fixed.
    Since this analogy isn't applicable in this case, maybe you're confused (?)... DHS was created in response to the 9/11 attacks, and responds to potential terrorist threats and attacks on US soil. They're not a group of IT guys or white hats.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Apparently cyber-terrorism isn't important then?
      • by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:37AM (#19579695)
        No, it's not. Cyber-terrorism is a buzzword made up by idiots.
        • by mcpkaaos (449561) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:42AM (#19579809)
          Kinda like "War on Terror"?
        • by BlueTrin (683373)
          I would tend to agree with you but this case [nytimes.com] could be considered as cyber-terrorism, isn't it ?
          • by Raul654 (453029)
            I would call it Cyber-warfare, not cyber-terrorism. Granted, terrorism is probably the hardest word in English to define. Wikipedia has an entire entry [wikipedia.org] on the word's definition. Note, though, the entry says: 'Terrorism expert Walter Laqueur in 1999 also has counted over 100 definitions and concludes that the "only general characteristic generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence"' Attacking the computer infrastructure isn't an act of violence.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          Cyber-terrorism has the potential to be a much more effective method of terrorism than violence. Just before Christmas, the airports in London were closed. A lot of people had to sleep in (cold) airports, and many didn't make it home to spend Christmas with their families.

          In absolute terms, this didn't have the same impact as killing a load of people; no one actually died to my knowledge. For the people involved, however, it was far more personal that some people they'd never met being blown up, and a

    • Part of their mandate and jurisdiction is Information Security; they are charged with protecting the computing infrastructure of the country.
    • by The Angry Mick (632931) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:54AM (#19580029) Homepage

      They're not a group of IT guys or white hats.

      Thank you for that clarification. I feel so much better now knowing that the department in charge of protecting the U.S. from terrorists has no technical skills.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by encino (537081)
        I work for DHS in the Science & Technology Directorate (S&T), and while DHS has a long way to go, there are very smart people here that have sacrificed lucrative careers to dedicate themselves to service to the nation. With a Ph.D. in computational biology from Stanford (i.e., I consider myself to have technical skills), I decided the morning of 9/11 that I would not seek a job at a Biotech or Pharma company in the Bay Area upon graduation, but would rather try to get involved and help the nation wi
    • by Applekid (993327)
      "They're not a group of IT guys or white hats."

      Would you support another breaucracy to take care of electronic threats? If not, who better to carry that flag?

      Perhaps what IT should be asking is if they're hiring because there clearly is a need there for qualified individuals.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Would you support another breaucracy to take care of electronic threats?
        Perhaps the EPA - I'd imagine even those tree-huggers could do a better job of securing networks than the clowns in the DHS.
    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:21AM (#19580451) Homepage
      DHS was created in response to the 9/11 attacks as a purely political move to make it look like we were serious about fighting terrorism. It created a huge bureaucracy, gave it an impossibly broad mandate, and made it more difficult for existing agencies (that were moved under DHS because they were at least tangentially related to protecting the country against various things) to do their jobs. As a result, the government is far less capable of intelligently defending against attack than it was before. It is only capable of wildly overreacting to perceived threats (like someone slipping through airport security with 4 ounces of hand soap rather than the mandated maximum of 3), again so it can appear as if it is on top of things.

      DHS was a bad idea that was implemented poorly out of a panicked need to do *something* following the attacks.
      • by Keebler71 (520908)
        As a result, the government is far less capable of intelligently defending against attack than it was before.

        By what meteric are you gauging this? You have to acknowledge that up to and including 9/11 there were foreign attacks on US soil... and since there have been none. While I certainly wouldn't give DHS *all* of the credit,... in my opinion it is either indeed performing a useful function -or- there was never a real threat in the frist place. I am sure that many slashdotters believe the latter - t

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by eln (21727)
          It was attacked twice 8 years apart. By that metric, we aren't due for another attack until 2009. In the meantime, there have been several attacks on US interests abroad. Terrorist attacks on US soil were extremely rare before DHS, and are extremely rare now.
    • DHS was created in response to the 9/11 attacks, and responds to potential terrorist threats and attacks on US soil. They're not a group of IT guys or white hats.

      exactly. since terrorists only target mosques, open air markets, train stations, and airplanes, clearly information security is someone else's job. i nominate the NSA since they do so much to protect our rights and liberties.

      it's not like all that sensitive private information that they keep on citizens and badguys alike could be mis-appropri

  • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot AT exit0 DOT us> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:33AM (#19579617) Homepage
    The people that are smart enough to really do this IT stuff properly for the DHS are smart enough to earn more money elsewhere.
    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:50AM (#19579975)
      "The people that are smart enough to really do this IT stuff properly for the DHS are smart enough to earn more money elsewhere."

      And even if the pay was the same, there's still the many months and ungodly amount of paperwork involved in trying to get a government job. Are you going to go for the offering that's available next month or next year?
      • by jofny (540291) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @12:19PM (#19581671) Homepage
        And lo! Slashdot accidentally discovers the reason for the lucrative concept of "government contracting". Of course the government cant compete with pay - they also cant hire or fire in any reasonable manner, so most of the staff consists of long term contractors...which partially negates the "blame X on government employee salaries" habit in a lot of these conversations.
    • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:19AM (#19580425)
      Further, the people who are likely to be seriously interested in infiltrating the DHS are quite able to find and finance someone with the capability to do so.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:34AM (#19579631)
    ...that failed to deliver when it came to 9/11 warnings by layering on a new bureaucracy on top of the failed bureaucracy.

    Clearly what we need is a new Dept. of Homeland Security Security.
  • by jofny (540291) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:34AM (#19579637) Homepage
    Point 1: Considering the complete inability of standard technical solutions to security problems to prevent a significant number of attacks/infections from being successful, this is not like the mechanics car getting fixed last. It's called "the security industry and standard methodologies continue their long history of consistent failure at organizations, both public and private"

    Point 2: Those numbers are a completely meaningless abstraction without tying them back to type of attack, actual damage, importance of the data on those systems or their roles in launching further attacks, what kind of infections occurred and their damage potential, and finally what those numbers look like compared to other orgs of the same size.

    Point 3: Homeland Security is comprised of multiple mostly-independant sub orgs (like Coast Guard, TSA, etc)....so..saying DHS had so many attacks is misleading without clarification

    Point 4: Not saying theyre not making mistakes, just that those "facts" dont tell you either way what the actual state of things is.
    • by Dave21212 (256924)

      One might also ask, "how many keyloggers, viruses, and break-ins are acceptible" at the DHS these days ?

      I agree that without a comparision it's difficult to determine if these numbers are "good" or "bad" in a sense, but one may argue that any security breach at the DHS is an issue. Having this occur at any agency with the word "security" in the name certainly add to the hype, but isn't some attention justified here ?

      I mean, what if your bank admitted to 200 serious security breaches, would you still
      • by jofny (540291)
        1a. We dont know that there were any serious security breaches at all. We just know there were breaches. Why dont we know if they were serious? As previously stated, we dont know what data they had access to, what the machines were used for, or how much access the breaches provided in general. Most of them very well could have been default-home-page resetters- common and far from serious.


        1b. DHS includes, among many other things, -every single computer at every airport, even if that machine is just use
  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:35AM (#19579657) Journal
    When you are a primary target like the DHS, I would imagine that the attacks they face are probably harder and longer than most possible victims. I would be interested to know how many hack attempts failed to see what kind of success rate such a high profile agency has. No security is perfect.

    ""What the department is doing on its own networks speaks so loudly that the message is not getting across," Thompson said."

    Meh, whatever. This seems to me to dismiss the high profile nature of the DHS. Most other businesses might not even survive the onslaught faced by the DHS and other government sites.

    Could they do more? Sure. There is ALWAYS more that can be done from the user level up to systems and network admin.

    "All the problems involved the department's unclassified computer networks..."

    That is good to know.
    • by Critical Facilities (850111) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:41AM (#19579783) Homepage

      Most other businesses might not even survive the onslaught faced by the DHS and other government sites.

      I agree with you that DHS is a "juicier" target than some businesses, I'm willing to bet that the attacks (and the frequency of them) against Bank of America, [bankofamerica.com] Citibank, [citibank.com] Equifax, [equifax.com] etc, are just as bad if not worse.
    • by darthnoodles (831210) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:46AM (#19579869)

      harder and longer

      This post failed to pass my spam checker.
    • Caveat:

      "All the problems involved the department's unclassified computer networks..."
      That is good to know.
      Problems that occurred on classified networks are classified, and would not have been released to the public.

      Just sayin'... I wouldn't want anyone to have a false sense of security, or a false sense of DHS competence when dealing with classified information.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jimicus (737525)
      I think you've made a very good point there.

      The DHS could guarantee that all computer-based attacks would be fruitless overnight. They'd just have to get rid of all their computers and resort to pocket calculators, slide rules and abacuses.

      Unfortunately, that's about the only way to provide a 100% cast-iron guarantee that there's no way in hell the computer systems will be hacked.

      Even if you did take such an extreme measure, the result would be that anyone that interested in getting information about what
  • This was predicted (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <mdinsmore@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:37AM (#19579701) Homepage Journal

    even by Slashdot pundits, when we learned of the huge Dell and Microsoft contracts that were being awarded by the DHS.

    Those who wanted the DHS to be a braintrust of security were sorely disappointed, and indeed we can see that it is nothing more than another bureaucracy more interested in distributing taxpayer funds to corporate friends than really doing anything for the health and welfare of the nation.

    This is how Rome fell.
  • Well, it makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:38AM (#19579709) Journal
    DHS was started by a number of folks from the marines (I worked for one). They were ALL windows believers ( but the ones that I knew were very so-so in the tech work). They were adamant about not being like NSA in spite of the fact that NSA has 2 missions; 1) obtain any info that they can on others 2) secure our boxes. NSA has a LARGE number of mathematicians as well as computer geeks. And windows is only allowed in none secured arenas or have their network capability severed at a hardware level (i.e. no nic or usb). If DHS had been ran by professionals and not politicians from the military (ALL of the tops one were W.s, Cheney's and esp. Rumsfeld's friend), then they would not have had the break-ins.
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:38AM (#19579719)
    That was how I read the summary and it made me think - Dang the Dept of Homeland Security is so (dis)organised that you can phone in break in requests to their systems
  • Out of Context (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WarpSnotTheDark (997032) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:38AM (#19579733)
    Look at any government agency or corporate IT infrastructure - 800 break-ins is not a big number. I have been conducting information security analyses for many years for corporate networks and government entities and 800 is not a high figure. What you have to find out before considering this a valid story is; was integrity, confidentiality or availability of their infrastructure effected by these break-ins or was it just dorks poking their nose through the DMZ to see what they could find.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by scatters (864681)
      The problem is that 800 is the number they know about. What's the real number?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jofny (540291)
        Considering the fact that there IS monitoring going on, Id say the 800 figure is probably much closer to the "truth" than a lot of other organizations' numbers who DONT monitor. Exchange often attributed to an anonymous officer at DoD: "My systems have never been broken into!" "How do you know, have you looked?" -Silence-
  • No lost laptops... yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reverend528 (585549)

      In other cases, computer workstations in the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration were infected with malicious software detected trying to communicate with outsiders; laptops were discovered missing; and agency Web sites suffered break-ins.
      I'll admit that "discovered missing" was probably a poor choice of words, but the article pretty clearly states that there were lost laptops.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gethoht (757871)
      They haven't lost a laptop that we know about, but how about a hard drive with thousands of SSN#'s on it?

      http://www.toptechnews.com/story.xhtml?story_id=03 3003P6Z4B6 [toptechnews.com]

      "The agency said it did not know whether the device is still within headquarters or was stolen."
  • Ha! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:39AM (#19579759)
    That's nothing. A password cracker is included in the OS load of every server here. Our security auditing program uses it! Better yet, it would normally be detected by our antivirus program, but a guy here is paid to remove it's pattern from the vscan updates before they're sent out. When an unedited vscan pattern file manages to make it's way on to the machine somehow, it nukes the audit program. How's that for "administratively broken"?
  • Usual illiteracy... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:39AM (#19579761) Journal
    800 Break-ins at Dept. of Homeland Security

    No, there were over 800 incidents ranging from a single (if I'm understanding correctly) break-in to other problems from malware and less.

    By the way, seven comments already and not one anguished wail from a 14-year-old pretending to be a grizzled veteran upset about the changing meaning of "hacker"? Get a move on, guys!

  • Just a thought; But what was the Operating System of Choice for those poor unfortunate Department of Homeland Security Victims?

    "Slowly, one by one, the Penguins steal my sanity" - Unknown
    • "Just a thought; But what was the Operating System of Choice for those poor unfortunate Department of Homeland Security Victims?"

      'The contract, awarded June 27, named Microsoft as the "primary technology provider [computerworld.com]" to the Department of Homeland Security, supplying desktop and server software critical for the agency'

      "Microsoft Corp [gcn.com]. has hired another Homeland Security Department official for its team "

      was: Re:Just Out of Curiosity
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:44AM (#19579847) Homepage
    Article needs the following tag:

    Irony
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @10:55AM (#19580053) Homepage
    This is no exaggeration. As with virtually any other government employment, the DHS is filled with people who just want titles and a paycheck. Most morons know how to install windows and office and a few of those can even install a server and exchange email. Whether they know anything useful or not, they don't really care about doing more than the bare minimum to keep their paychecks flowing. I blame the way government pays and oversees people for this. There is not much in the way of pay or advancement by merit in government employ. Everyone's too afraid of descrimination suits and the like. So the only measured basis one can use safely is time in service really. Other than that, the culture is to keep your head down and do the bare minimum.

    And if you think the creation of DHS was a carefully planned and well-thought-out move, I think the historical evidence speaks to the contrary.

    The only solution is for detailed requirements for security and data handling. It would be more effective than not having any... they really don't have much in place now. How secure can they be with Microsoft everything running their offices?
  • 800 includes virus infections as well. Lets see there are about 150,000 employees of DHS, so assumining there is at least 1 computer per employee, there must somewhere in the range of150,000 computers? Lets be conservative and say 100,000 computers. 800 incidents, that is less then 1%. Now take any other enterprise with that many computers, you IT guys tell me, is under 1% rate for computers without virus infections or intrusions a failure? Hell it isn't perfect, but it should be expected.

    The bottom lin
  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:03AM (#19580177)

    When the first question out of the DHS pruchasing agent after the demo is 'And the name of your Congressman is?'

    Yes, this really happened, it is recorded in my lab book.

  • by athloi (1075845) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:13AM (#19580341) Homepage Journal
    ...that you could fly a 747 through!

    Oops, that was in bad taste.
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:22AM (#19580481) Homepage
    Most companies' security strategies primarily rely on two things: patching and virus scanning.

    Maybe break-ins are rare for you, and you think you are doing security really well. In reality, your success is based primarily on the fact that nobody good is targeting you. The people who discover flaws, write the exploits, and create the effective viruses do NOT target your pissant little company. They target governments and financial institutions.

    Once the flaws and viruses are discovered by the primary targets, you get the luxury of updating your software and signature files before anyone gets around to target you.

    DHS may have security a million times better than yours, but they are a primary target, so they get hit a billion times harder.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _Sharp'r_ (649297)
      A few years ago I was the technical manager for a company that developed and hosted major ecommerce sites. Sites for the largest retail brands in the world. They were very, very, high profile. Any downtime was usually measured in millions of dollars of revenue lost. We went months at a time without any downtime at all, not even scheduled downtime.

      We never once had a break-in. We never once had a tripwire report that a single file had been changed by someone without authorization.

      We also ran primarily Solari
  • Knowing where the gaps occurred would actually be interesting. Were there particular pre-DHS agencies or offices that had systems do well or poorly? On the server/software side, if failures occurred, were the same people or the same part of the organization in charge of those systems, or had they been shuffled around inside DHS? If you've got your own responsibilities already, odds are you're only going to have enough time to keep an unfamiliar system working, not learn it inside and out. There was a lot of
  • Run by the most corrupt and incompetent administration in modern history has security problems with teh internets?

    Really?

    Talk about a non-story. I actually surprised the launch codes for our nukes, and the secret recipe for Coke, aren't on the front page of the DHS website, hightlighted with the flash tag.

    • "I actually surprised the launch codes for our nukes, and the secret recipe for Coke, aren't on the front page of the DHS website, hightlighted with the flash tag."

      In a typical example of government's excellent security policies, the launch codes apparently used to be all zeros until the mid 70s. I read an article about this a couple of years back, apparently they weren't changed until some military guys pointed it out to the right people in Congress and then managed to convince those politicians that, no,
      • It's true. I read an accredited news article some time ago that pointed this out for the fact that they wre concerned that a real code would be too easily forgotten in a high-stress crisis situation.
  • FUD Article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evil W1zard (832703) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:32AM (#19580689) Journal
    Ok so here is the deal. DHS' network is a mesh of multiple other networks that were already in existence. This is problematic in itself as it involves a heavy amount of integration and also borders upon borders of perimeter security (each disparate agency is part of the whole but may have its own controlled interfaces for some level of separation...

    Now lets go to the article. To the laymen you say 800 compromises and they go into "WOW THAT IS SO BAD" mode, but seriously come on. The compromises are mostly workstations. Now that doesn't mean they get a free pass, but its not like they have had their core servers owned by foreign states... What they should be doing is not only scanning apps, DBs, and servers and patching/hardening them appropriately, but also client-side firewalling, config control of workstations, baseline security mechanisms for remote users, centralized virus/vulnerability patching... This article does not surprise me what-so-ever and it really is not an indication that DHS security is horrible. Its not the best, but 800 is not that bad.

  • What does the Department of Homeland Security do now anyway? It doesn't seem to have very much to do other than looking over the shoulders of people at libraries to see if they're browsing porn, and then trying to arrest them until it's pointed out that they have no jurisdiction.

    I mean, everyone is really keen to tell us how we're on the verge of IT meltdown, and terrorists are willing to meltdown the entire western economy through botnets (Die Hard 4), but it's just bull.

    An organisation like that, wi
  • If they can't secure their own office, how can they secure a country and how can WE trust them with the info they collect on us?
    • by GrayCalx (597428)
      how can WE trust them with the info they collect on us?

      Heh, what like the phone records that show you called 1900-HOT-COED seven times that weekend your parents attended a family reunion? I'm pretty sure we can let that one slip to the Chinese.
  • Salient FACTS (Score:4, Informative)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:49AM (#19581055)
    The DHS has around 200,000 employees.

    The article actually says "800 hacker break-ins, virus outbreaks and other computer security problems over two years".

    These numbers are remarkably low, if true. I once cleaned over 1000 virii, rootkits and spyware apps off the computer of a busy, filesharing teenager. 800 from 200,000 employees is pretty low. Not to mention that these are on public terminals since the real important data passes across private DoD networks (SIPRNET [wikipedia.org] and JWICS [wikipedia.org]. another clueless article written by another clueless reporter spreading FUD to the clueless liberal masses.

    • You raise an interesting point, but the truth is that given the sensitivity of the network in question, ONE is too many.
      • by N8F8 (4562)
        Unrealistic. But go ahead and eat the FUD.
      • by jofny (540291)
        Actually, no. One of his specific (and accurate) points was that these were -not- sensitive networks that were involved. The attack data from -those- networks - the ones where data is actually of significance - are not findings you'll read in a news article like this because they are, well, "sensitive" (read: classified).
        • The point I was trying to make is that if an intrusion does go unnoticed long enough and if your sensitive data is in any way connected to your external network, then it can be compromised by many means including a social engineering, which only gets easier once the outer layer security has been breached. I realize that the sensitive data is on separate networks but since they are secret we'll probably never know if there were any attacks on them as well or not.
  • The DHS can't fix Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, MS ActiveX system or any part of Microsoft Windows. There is no comparison between a mechanics personal car and how "experts" can or can't protect their computers.

    But hey, I'd be impressed if it were shown that the DHS, as a policy, used Firefox instead of IE and maybe Thunderbird instead of MS Outlook. I doubt they've even taken those simple steps to mitigate infection/breakin points.

    LoB

FORTH IF HONK THEN

Working...