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Social Security Administration put to the test on cybersecurity

Most of our Los Angeles readers know that millions of Americans receive some form of benefit from the Social Security Administration. What they may not realize, however, is that by necessity that also means that the SSA is in possession of sensitive personal information, like Social Security numbers and birthdates, for all of those people who receive benefits.

This realization may get people thinking, "Just how secure is that information?" This is a legitimate question, especially in light of the frequent reports concerning major companies and "hackers" stealing credit card information - reports that seem to be all too common. According to a recent report, the SSA's cybersecurity was recently put to the test.

The report indicates that an auditing firm tested the SSA's computer systems for weaknesses, and apparently the results were mixed. 11 different factors were measured and, as part of the good news, the SSA was found to be "generally consistent" with the requisite regulations across all 11 factors. However, in a bit of bad news, the audit found that "significant weaknesses" were found in 8 of those 11 areas.

Fortunately, this report surfaces as part of a self-test and not as part of an attempted "hack" on SSA information. The auditing firm noted that the SSA is currently in the process of addressing the deficiencies that were found in the self-test. And, in an attempt to put the SSA on a better path toward implementing the right corrective action for the issues that were found, the auditing firm provided the SSA with eight recommendations. Hopefully this means that all of the information that the SSA stores and is responsible for will soon be protected by a cybersecurity system that earns top-marks on the next self-test.

Source: Federal Times, "Minor deficiencies add up to significant weaknesses at SSA," Aaron Boyd, Nov. 5, 2014

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