Government Weak on IT Security: WA Auditor General

New audit report finds 60% of WA govt agencies fail to meet IT security benchmarks

The WA Office of the Auditor General has slammed the privacy practices of government agencies saying that in many, fundamental weaknesses in all of the key areas of information security are present.

The announcement follows the tabling in parliament of the Auditor General’s Information Systems Audit Report today.

The report consists of two parts, IS Compliance Audit, and General Computer and Application Controls Audits, both of which found serious concerns over the management of privacy and security.

Auditor General Colin Murphy said the results of the IS Compliance Audit section revealed fundamental weaknesses in all of the key areas of information security.

Specifically, the report found that three out of the five agencies lacked IT security policies, and none of the agencies consistently applied simple administrative controls such as police checks or confidentiality agreements for staff dealing with personal or sensitive information.

Also, none of the agencies had adequate controls over the transfer of personal and sensitive information to portable USB devices such as thumb drives which can be easily lost or stolen.

The results of the General Computer and Application Controls Audits section of the report, which reviewed 65 agencies and benchmarked 41 against accepted good practice for IS management, found that nearly 60 per cent of agencies failed to meet the benchmark. Some 46 per cent of agencies had not established effective controls for change management and 33 percent had not established effective controls for management of physical security. “By failing to address fundamental control weaknesses, agencies leave themselves vulnerable to computer system failures, unauthorised access to information, loss of information and fraudulent activity,” Murphy said in a statement.

“I expect agencies across government to take note of the findings and recommendations of this report.”

The report can be viewed here

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Tim Lohman

Computerworld
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