DOJ Still Gets a Failing Grade on Strong Authentication

In DOJ’s Inspector General’s annual report on challenges facing the department, Michael Horowitz revealed how well DOJ is complying with the Office of Management and Budget’s directive in the wake of the OPM hack that agencies improve their own cybersecurity, including by adopting strong authentication for both privileged and unprivileged users.

DOJ’s still getting a failing grade on that front — just 64% of users are in compliance with requirements they use strong authentication.

Following OMB’s directive, the White House reported that federal civilian agencies increased their use of strong authentication (such as smartcards) for privileged and unprivileged users from 42 percent to 72 percent. The Justice Department, however, had among the worst overall compliance records for the percentage of employees using smartcards during the third quarter of FY 2015 – though it has since made significant improvements, increasing to 64 percent of privileged and unprivileged users in compliance by the fourth quarter. Given both the very sensitive nature of the information that it controls, and its role at the forefront of the effort to combat cyber threats, the Department must continue to make progress to be a leader in these critical areas.

Ho hum. These are only the databases protecting FBI’s investigations into mobs, terrorists, and hackers. No reason to keep those safe.

In any case, it may be too late, as the Crackas with Attitude already broke into the portal for some of those databases.

Ah well, we’ll just dump more information into those databases under CISA and see if that prevents hackers.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.