Tens of Thousands of Cybersecurity Weaknesses in Energy Dept Including Inside National Nuclear Security Administration

By B.N. Frank

Thanks to Nextgov for reporting about a situation that could undoubtedly lead to catastrophic events:

The Energy Department continues to botch the same cybersecurity practices year after year, leaving unclassified systems in the nation’s nuclear facilities and other critical infrastructure exposed to digital attacks, according to a federal watchdog.

[…]

In their annual audit of the department’s cybersecurity program, investigators uncovered multiple recurring weaknesses related to configuration management, access controls, personnel training programs and security testing.

The audit also revealed substantial shortcomings in the department’s vulnerability management practices, which left tens of thousands of “critical and high-risk vulnerabilities” unaddressed within its digital ecosystem.

[…]

The department had addressed 21 of the 25 recommendations made in 2018. But dozens of additional vulnerabilities popped up this year, the majority of which “were similar in type to those identified during prior evaluations,” the IG said. The review included 28 department facilities, including locations operated by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

[…]

While different locations suffered from different security lapses, poor vulnerability management practices were the most widespread.

Auditors found 11 different facilities running unsupported software on their network servers and workstations, meaning the developer that originally built the tech was no longer providing security patches or other assistance. At some facilities, more than three-quarters of the workstations contained at least one critical or high-risk vulnerability related to unsupported software.

Nine locations included in the review had also failed to install critical and high-risk security patches on their infrastructure, according to the IG. Auditors said more than half of the roughly 1,850 workstations they tested were missing security patches that had been issued at least 30 days before—a violation of federal cyber policies—and nearly half the network servers they tested were missing critical or high-risk patches.

At one facility, the IG uncovered more than 10,500 unpatched critical and high-risk vulnerabilities.

The article doesn’t identify what kind of cybersecurity program is being operated.  If it’s Internet of Things (IoT) technology – that could be the problem.  IoT has a 74% failure rate which means it only has a 26% success rate.  Security experts have given it 2 thumbs down for many years even referring to it as “The Internet of Dangerous Things”, “The Internet of Vulnerable Things” and even “The Internet of Shitty Things”.

Regardless, proponents – including the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) – continue to endorse it being installed everywhere.   Of course even if the department isn’t using IoT, any program that is operated with a wireless connection is more vulnerable to hacking than with a wired connection.  That’s never not been true.  Bombs away.

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