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Cyber Security Not Taking Seriously Enough
9/15/2015 10:33:54 PM

Dear Editor:

I was shocked, sickened, disgusted and dismayed to read a local newspaper’s report regarding employees in all levels of government putting the safety and security of the entire nation at risk by: 1) utilizing their government email address on an adult website and 2) utilizing government computers to do so.

The Associated Press revealed that, “…U.S. government employees – including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies – used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison”.

Such unprofessional behavior boggles the mind when, on the one hand, the government spends billions of dollars annually on cyber security only to have some goof-off federal employees undermine all these efforts by logging onto non-government websites while on the government’s dime; opening up the entire government network to be compromised, hacked and/or shut down.

This is unacceptable.

It’s one thing for civilians not to care about or fully comprehend the complexities of cyber warfare, cyber safety and security; however, when government employees from those with sensitive jobs in the White House to local government entities such as the Navy’s SPAWAR, Joint Base Charleston, the city of North Charleston, Charleston County and even the Charleston County School District act with such gross negligence and disregard for safety protocols and procedures, lacking the basic common sense to avoid using their government computer for anything other than government related correspondence; it sets a poor example of just how serious the cyber war is, as well as affords hackers the opportunity to infiltrate and compromise the government from top to bottom.

We are at war, being under constant attack, while our supposed/alleged brightest and best are up to tomfoolery. That in and of itself is quite disturbing.

I just find it incredulous that after all the well documented hacks and attacks in the recent past against both civilian as well as government websites that government employees would conduct themselves in such nonchalant, even naïve manner.

Many of these coveted federal jobs don’t go to the average Joe, as some require security clearance. Therefore, these jobs should be deemed as being one of great responsibility and not merely an entitlement to great pay, benefits and retirement.

These egregious acts are appalling, particularly considering why they were visiting this unsecured website in the first place. A website whose motto is, “Life is short. Have an Affair.”

Where was the integrity, dedication, even patriotism by these government workers?

Their actions show a lack of self-control, loyalty and commitment to their sacred matrimonial vows as well as a lack of respect for the nation, government, their jobs and this country’s citizens.

Since these unprincipled government workers were not willing to forsake all others while putting the nation at risk – surely they should, at the very least, be suspended without pay, otherwise it would just be a paid vacation for them; then retrained, hammering home the importance of vigilance when it comes to cyber safety and security while on the job.

The Internet is a double-edged sword, with just as many negative aspects to it as there are positive. What is it going to take for us as a nation to wake up to the realities of the seriousness of the lack of security on the Internet when so much of our personal and confidential information is involved and at risk?

Have we as civilians and government workers become so addictive to this unsecured technology that some of us are willing to allow this country’s safety and security to be compromised just so we can have access to the Internet 24/7/365?

China, Russia and God only knows who else are diligently hacking away at finding chinks in our cyberspace armor.

Why are some of us making it so easy for them?

Lesa Wineglass-Smalls

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