Coburn: DHS cyber weaknesses are 'inexcusable'

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Monday that it is “inexcusable” that there are weaknesses in the cybersecurity system of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“We spend billions of taxpayer dollars on federal information technology every year,” said Coburn, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “It is inexcusable to put the safety and security of our nation and its citizens at risk in this manner.”

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Coburn’s comments came after the inspector general of DHS released a report that showed “major gaps” within DHS’s cybersecurity network.

“The fact is the federal government’s classified and unclassified networks are dangerously insecure, putting at risk not only U.S. national security, but the nation’s critical infrastructure and vast amounts of our citizens’ personally identifiable information,” Coburn said.

Coburn said DHS should at least be held to the same standards President Obama has called for in the private sector.

“This report shows major gaps in DHS’s own cybersecurity, including some of the most basic protections that would be obvious to any 13-year-old with a laptop,” Coburn said. “It relies on antiquated software that’s full of holes. Its components don’t report security incidents when they should. They don’t keep track of weaknesses when they’re found, and they don’t fix them in time to make a difference.”

Last year, senators pushed for a cybersecurity bill to ensure terrorists or organized crime couldn’t compromise the nation’s infrastructure and financial systems, but the bill failed to garner enough support to overcome a Republican filibuster.

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