The Department of Homeland Security, the agency charged with protecting the federal government from cyber attacks, is itself vulnerable to such threats because its own outdated computers lack even the basic protections needed to fend off hackers, a new report shows.
The 50-page report, released Monday by the department’s Inspector General, found numerous serious flaws in the department’s computer security program, starting with the fact that it’s run on a nearly obsolete, decade-old operating system.
Six DHS divisions — including the department’s headquarters, Customs and Immigration Services and the TSA — are still using Windows XP software, which is far more vulnerable to malware and in just a few months will be considered so outdated that its manufacturer, Microsoft, will stop providing security upgrades for it.
“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,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
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