U.S. Government Fails to Make Security Grade

Wednesday, 4 December 2002, 12:16 PM EST

For the second year running, the federal government has flunked Computer Security 101.

The 24 major agencies of the U.S. government performed so poorly this year that lawmakers charged with overseeing government efficiency want to tie agencies' funding to network security procedures and force them to buy software only from a list of "qualified" products.

Despite the redoubled attention to security since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, 14 of 24 federal agencies flat out flunked their efforts to improve network safety, according to the Computer Security Report Card released last month by the House Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations. This fall, the subcommittee concluded that every major agency in the federal government houses significant network security weaknesses.

Perhaps most worrisome, some agencies--including some that conduct highly confidential activity--fared even worse than they did a year ago. The National Aeronautic & Space Administration's score fell to a D-plus from a C-minus, and the Department of State's score fell to an F from a D-plus.

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