Dan Gilmore / February 2, 2016

Dept. of Education Is an Informational Security Threat

It keeps 139 million Social Security numbers in its records.

The Department of Education sits on millions of Americans’ sensitive data, and the chief information officer of the agency acts as though protecting that data is a part-time job, The Wall Street Journal reports. On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing into Education’s informational security and to scrutinize CIO Danny Harris’ conduct because House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz thinks the Department of Education is vulnerable to the kind of hack that the Office of Personnel Management experienced last year. If you recall, the hack that was blamed on Chinese hackers netted the sensitive data of every federal employee, past and present — 21.5 million people. The Department of Education keeps 139 million Social Security numbers in its records and gives out billions of dollars in grants and loans. In fiscal year 2015, it failed to detect a hack performed by the department’s inspector general auditing Education’s compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act. In other words, these records lying within the Department of Education are fat targets for foreign governments or organized crime.

Meanwhile, the CIO Harris has been in hot water in 2013 for running side businesses. Year over year, the Department of Education has expanded its role in education by giving out money so American youth can attend college. Now it has shown it can’t handle the responsibility of managing the information of some of the nation’s brightest.

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