US Dept of Transport security breach exposes info on a quarter-million people

TRANServe – an electronic travel pass system managed by DoT, and used by many employees across the federal government to encourage use of public transport – told Congress it made a mistake in protecting that data.

The DoT told The Register its CIO office “Isolated the breach to certain systems at the department used for administrative functions, such as employee transit benefits processing,” adding that the incident did not affect any transportation safety systems.

Just yesterday, the US Government Accountability Office released a report finding that while the DoT has fulfilled recommendations to define cybersecurity roles and responsibilities, it didn’t follow through in some cases.

In a report reviewing the current status of the DoT’s priority recommendations from the GAO dated May 9, US Comptroller General Gene Dodario said that the DoT has only implemented 67 percent of the recommendations the GAO made to it, 10 percent shy of the federal government average.

Jennifer Franks, director of the GAO’s Center for Enhanced Cybersecurity and its IT & Cybersecurity Teams, told The Register there have been a lot of recommendations made to the DoT over the years, but many priority fixes remain unresolved.

As a result, Franks said, the DoT doesn’t have proper risk management strategies in place, lacks a good understanding of the risks of a government-wide IT labor shortage and doesn’t have a plan in place to respond to privacy incidents like the exposure of PII. Franks told us that much of the cybersecurity and IT trouble the DoT is facing boils down to workforce issues, including the fact that “There are no senior [DoT] officials responsible for privacy who manage the documentation for privacy matters.”

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