Bill proposed to secure data on government computers in US

Two US Senators have introduced legislation prohibiting use of PPP software in government agencies and protect sensitive data.

Updated: Jun 16, 2010, 16:34 PM IST

Washington: Following alarming reports of
confidential data being leaked, often unintentionally, by
employees on Peer-to-Peer (PPP) network, two US Senators have
introduced legislation prohibiting use of PPP software in
government agencies and protect sensitive data.

"In this age of information technology, it is critical
that the federal government take the next step in ensuring
that their data is fully protected," said Senator Claire
McCaskill, who along with Bob Bennett introduced the
legislation in this regard in the US Senate yesterday.

"It`s important that our government and our citizens`
confidential information is no longer vulnerable to exposure
from the use of insecure peer-to-peer networks," he said.

"We need to close the security hole that has allowed the
breach of highly-sensitive information for far too long," said

"Open peer-to-peer networks pose a continued risk to our
country`s safety. This legislation closes that gap and
increases awareness amongst government employees and
contractors alike of the security threats they continually
face," he said.

The Secure Federal File Sharing Act, introduced as a way
to protect government information critical to citizens`
privacy or America`s national security, prohibits government
employees and government contractors from installing dangerous
file-sharing software on their government computers, a media
release said.

In October 2009, security firm Tiversa notified the House
Oversight and Government Reform Committee that almost 200
sensitive military documents had been inadvertently made
public because of PPP software, they said.

"These documents, which included details on sensitive
military projects and defense contracts, were being downloaded
onto computers in China and Pakistan. Separately, the Social
Security numbers and other personal information of 463
soldiers at Ft. Bragg was mistakenly released due to PPP
software," the statement said.

In order to prevent similar leaks in the future, this
legislation would require the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) to issue guidance prohibiting installation and use of
PPP software by government employees and contractors on all
federal computers, systems, and networks.
In rare instances, should a computer system require such
software, this bill would require agency heads to request
special clearance, it said.