The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced that it was the subject of a significant data breach. DISA provides IT support and services to the White House, the President and Vice-President, US Secret Service, Joint Chiefs of Staff and more. A message sent by DISA’s CIO warned the recipients that their information may have been subject to a data breach. While the agency had no indications that any information had been misused, sensitive personally identifying information (PII) including Social Security numbers may have been breached. Few details of the breach are currently being released such as affected systems, how the compromise took place, or what was targeted by attackers. It has also not been made clear if the compromise affects DISA employees, users, or both. The only detail being released at this time is that the compromise took place between May and July of 2019.
Considering DISA’s status within government IT, it is concerning that its systems were able to be compromised at any level. Because of the level of trust and access afforded to those working for DISA and utilizing their services, attackers could use the stolen information to cause significant damage. PII is not only useful for identity theft but also for gathering more information on a person in order to look for means of extorting them or targeting them further. Regardless of the security measures put in place on any given system, users will always be any network’s greatest weakness. For an attacker, this means that finding a means of exploiting a user can be a much easier and more effective way of compromising a targeted system. More information on this breach can be found at https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/us-defense-agency-notifies-users