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Federal Information Security: Actions Needed to Address Challenges

Federal Information Security: Actions Needed to Address Challenges, GAO-16-885T: Published: Sep 19, 2016. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 2016.

“Cyber incidents affecting federal agencies have continued to grow, increasing about 1,300 percent from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2015. Several laws and policies establish a framework for the federal government’s information security and assign implementation and oversight responsibilities to key federal entities, including the Office of Management and Budget, executive branch agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, implementation of this framework has been inconsistent, and additional actions are needed: Effectively implement risk-based information security programs. Agencies have been challenged to fully and effectively establish and implement information security programs. They need to enhance capabilities to identify cyber threats, implement sustainable processes for securely configuring their computer assets, patch vulnerable systems and replace unsupported software, ensure comprehensive testing and evaluation of their security on a regular basis, and strengthen oversight of IT contractors. Improve capabilities for detecting, responding to, and mitigating cyber incidents. Even with strong security, organizations can continue to be victimized by attacks exploiting previously unknown vulnerabilities. To address this, DHS needs to expand the capabilities and adoption of its intrusion detection and prevention system, and agencies need to improve their practices for responding to cyber incidents and data breaches. Expand cyber workforce and training efforts. Ensuring that the government has a sufficient cybersecurity workforce with the right skills and training remains an ongoing challenge. Government-wide efforts are needed to better recruit and retain a qualified cybersecurity workforce and to improve workforce planning activities at agencies…”

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