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Shutdown Leaves Federal Websites Vulnerable

Paul Rubens - January 11, 2019 - 10:24 AM
Shutdown Leaves Federal Websites Vulnerable
Expired digital security certificates are not being renewed, undermining millions of U.S. citizens' security.

(CCM) — Official websites, including those of the US Department of Justice, the Court of Appeals, and NASA, have been rendered vulnerable to cyber-attacks thanks to the current U.S. federal government shutdown, the BBC is reporting.

The reason for this is that many .gov websites rely on digital certificates to ensure that people can connect to these sites securely and that any interaction is encrypted to prevent eavesdropping. These certificates are valid for a finite amount of time before they expire and need to be renewed, but since the shutdown any certificates that have expired have not been renewed, according to the report.

In the case of the Department of Justice, its website's security certificate actually expired in the week before the shutdown, but it was not renewed before the shutdown came in to effect.

More than 80 security certificates used by .gov websites have expired so far, according to research carried out by Netcraft.

"As more and more certificates used by government websites inevitably expire over the following days, weeks - or maybe even months - there could be some realistic opportunities to undermine the security of all US citizens," Paul Mutton, a security consultant, said in a Netcraft blog post.

Image: © iStock.
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