Encryption is a critical component of our digital economy. It plays a fundamental role in protecting privacy and commerce. Unfortunately: some government agencies have difficulty accepting the importance, and necessity, of encryption.
Although it’s a foundational component of every responsible organization, each day seems to bring a new threat to encryption technology from well-meaning, but ill-informed government officials. These vocal attacks may play one of many roles in how agencies adopt and maintain their security solutions. Other factors include: a dearth of funding for updating security, an aging infrastructure, a lack of skilled resources and more.
According to a recent government report, almost half of all federal agencies missed a deadline to adopt a swath of cyber security upgrades, including adding HTTPS encryption to their websites. The security updates come from the Homeland Security Department’s binding operational directive, which was initially released in October and gave agencies until February 13th to implement the improvements.
“Just 54 percent of agencies met the full set of requirements, according to a tally maintained by the General Services Administration,” writes Joseph Marks, security reporter for NextGov. “While about 70 percent met the HTTPS requirement, according to a Homeland Security official.”
Overall compliance varied by agency. “Only 20 percent of Homeland Security’s own websites met the web security deadline,” continued Marks. “NASA, by contrast, was 97 percent compliant and the Interior Department was 93 percent compliant.”
HTTPS isn’t perfect, but it is a valuable tool for website security. It remains to be seen how critical comments and a lack of funding from the federal government have hindered its own encryption usage. That’s a difficult issue to assess. But one thing remains clear, current compliance rates leave much to be desired.