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Audit Chides Department Of Homeland Security's WAN

The Department of Homeland Security's wide area network risks service disruptions and losing data because of a high volume of security problems, according to a recent audit.

The Office of the Inspector General found that DHS had 65 million security event messages from February through April 2005, and 6.5 million were tagged as possible misuse of computers to access pornography Web sites.

The overall figure represents an increase of more then a 400 percent from the year before, but the number of porn warnings could be due to legitimate law enforcement investigations, DHS information officers told the OIG in an audit released at the end of 2005. That's difficult to determine because of the way the network is monitored.

Despite rules requiring DHS to monitor the network, which serves 22 organizations under its umbrella, DHS turned responsibility for monitoring over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection with no formal agreement about how they should collaborate, according to the audit posted online in January.

The department has not clearly outlined baseline security controls or rules of use on the interconnected systems to prevent unauthorized transactions on the WAN. Without those controls, DHS cannot remove a problematic group from the network or require that risky computer use be performed through a dial-up connection or other method to reduce risk, auditors noted.

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