Federal Data Remains at Risk

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from Fort Worth Star Telegram,

p> In the month since a devastating computer systems breach at the Office of Personnel Management, digital SWAT teams have been racing to plug the most glaring security holes in government computer networks and prevent another embarrassing theft of personal information, financial data and national security secrets.

But senior cybersecurity officials, lawmakers and technology experts said in interviews that the 30-day “cybersprint” ordered by President Barack Obama after the attacks is little more than digital triage on federal computer networks that are cobbled together with out-of-date equipment and defended with the software equivalent of Bubble Wrap.

In an effort to highlight its corrective actions, the White House will announce shortly that teams of federal employees and volunteer hackers have made progress over the last month. At some agencies, 100 percent of users are, for the first time, logging in with two-factor authentication, a basic security feature, officials said. Security holes that have lingered for years despite obvious fixes are being patched. And thousands of low-level employees and contractors with access to the nation’s most sensitive secrets have been cut off.

But officials and experts acknowledge that the computer networks of many federal agencies remain highly vulnerable to sophisticated cybercriminals, who are often sponsored by other countries. Another breach like the one in June, which exposed information on 21 million people, remains a threat…

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