A US Department of Homeland Security inspection report has warned that the US Government's ability to counter cyber attacks against its non-military computer systems is as useful as a chocolate teapot.
The HS inspector general said that the part of the department that monitors cyber attacks can't force other agencies to protect their systems. It is "woefully understaffed" and people keep leaving.
Inspector General Richard Skinner is expected to tell congress today the department the "US Computer Emergency Readiness Team", US-CERT actually withheld data from other federal agencies that could have helped them address security breaches.
US CERT "is still hindered in its ability to provide an effective analysis and warning program for the federal government in a number of ways," the report said.
The Wall Street Journal, which got its paws on the report before anyone else, said that US-CERT is working at half-strength-having filled only 45 of 98 available positions.
Skinner found the team "does not have sufficient staff to perform its 24x7 operations and contractors are used to compensate for staff shortages.
Skinner does credit the department with making some progress in addressing cyber threats by establishing working groups with private industry and issuing bulletins and reports on emerging threats.