Julius Genachowski

While advising the public on cybersecurity, FCC failed on its own defenses

by Phillip Swarts-Washington Guardian  |  published on February 5, 2013


When the Federal Communication Commission’s computer systems were breached in Sept. 2011, it decided to take action to improve cybersecurity.

But more than a year and $10 million later, investigators found the agency is back at square one. In fact,fcc.pdf”> the security improvements the FCC had taken were largely useless, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress‘ watchdog arm.

“FCC’s information remained at unnecessary risk of inadvertent or deliberate misuse, improper disclosure, or destruction. Further, addressing these deficiencies could require costly and time consuming rework,” the report said.

The FCC is the agency that regulates broadcasts from radio to television to satellite. If Beyonce had a “wardrobe malfunction” on Sunday like the Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime show several years ago, the FCC is in charge of handing out fines to the television networks and stations in charge of the program.

It also has taken a high-profile role in cybersecurity, creating a special office to communicate threats and solutions to the public and offering small businesses advice on how to repel attacks.

Hacking attempts on government computers are up 780 percent over the past six years, according to GAO. So when FCC security was breached, the agency started the Enhanced Secured Network (ESN) project to protect it’s computers, and the White House Office of Management and Budget authorized it to spend $10 million on the improvements.

Investigators, however, found that little had been improved, mostly because FCC officials weren’t sure what they needed in cybersecurity improvements.

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