The British Columbia government must do a better job of protecting its computer systems from cybersecurity threats, says auditor general Michael Pickup.
An audit of five government ministries found only Education and the information branch of Citizens’ Services provided strong protections against potential threats, he said Tuesday.
The audit concluded the ministries of Finance, Health and Natural Resources as well as much of Citizens’ Services did not have adequate cybersecurity practices to manage its information technology systems, Pickup told a news conference.
The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally.
Pickup said organizations with poorly managed security practices are vulnerable to attacks.
“These weaknesses could hinder the ability of the ministries to develop and implement appropriate safeguards to protect their IT assets from cybersecurity threats,” he said.
The audit found security standards at the ministries lacked specific definitions of roles and responsibilities, said Pickup.
It also found inappropriately maintained inventories, including unauthorized devices on networks and records that were missing important data, he said.
“The established policies and standards, they lack specific guidelines to identify and manage IT assets for the purpose of managing cybersecurity risks,” Pickup said.
The audit makes seven recommendations, all of which have been accepted by the government.
Pickup said he expects the audit’s findings to be discussed by members of the legislature who sit on committees overseeing information technology services.
“These reports are tools for the folks in the legislature to then look to government and hold them accountable on why are these things happening to start with and how does government improve,” he said.
Pickup said his office is also planning a future review of the government’s computer systems during the COVID-19 pandemic because many government employees are working from home.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
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