Morning Security Brief: FPS Contract Guards Not Properly Trained, FEC Site Hacked During Shutdown, And More
Contract guards that protect federal facilities around the country are not sufficiently trained on screening or active shooters, a GAO report found. The Federal Election Commission site was attacked by Chinese hackers during the government shutdown. And NORAD is relying on special software to track Santa this Christmas Eve.
► Contract guards used at Federal Protective Services facilities are not properly trained when they are deployed to the 9,600 federal facilities around the country, a new Government Accountability Office report found. The FPS, which employs 13,500 contract security guards, has not provided sufficient screening or active shooter training. The GAO also found that FPS does not follow national risk assessment standards and consequently has only limited knowledge of the risks its facilities face. FPS, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, agreed with the report and pledged to improve risk assessment and guard training.
► A Center for Public Integrity report has revealed that Chinese hackers attacked the Federal Election Commission website during the government shutdown in October, confirming fears that sites left unprotected during that time were likely to be hacked. The site compiles federal election campaign finance information such as contribution to parties and candidates. And an investigation released a few months before the attack warned that the FEC computer systems were at a high risk of being infiltrated. “It came as the FEC had absolutely no regular employees actually serving at the agency because of the government shutdown,” said David Levinthal with the Center for Public Integrity. The FEC has since said it would move sensitive data offline.
► This year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Santa Tracking program will rely on the same technology the operations center uses daily at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Test Command has approved the use of the Avaya Aura calling software, which will link callers inquiring about Santa’s location with a volunteer who speaks the caller’s language. The NORAD Santa tracking program began more than 50 years ago when an ad for a department store’s Santa hotline mistakenly listed the number of an air defense command operations center. The commanders answering the phone didn’t want to disappoint the children, so he and his team provided live updates on Santa’s travels.