An agency's ability to quickly deploy the latest round of Microsoft patches in a timely fashion depends in large part on whether the process is automated, said Karen Evans, federal CIO during the George W. Bush administration. "I would think this would start being a problem for them" if the shutdown persists.
The government shutdown, now in its ninth day, has caused most federal agencies to shut down all but a few services deemed essential. Most have furloughed all but a bare handful of "excepted" employees to keep essential operations running.
The Federal Trade Commission for instance, has exempted just six IT employees to keep its IT infrastructure running through the shutdown. The six individuals are responsible for directly supporting the agency's network and telecommunication services, operating the FTC's data center, rotating backup media for offsite storage and providing on-site database administration support.
The Social Security Administration has temporarily furloughed all but 310 of its 3,187 IT employees. The exempted employees have been put in charge of managing the agency's IT infrastructure and providing support for essential services. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is using a skeletal IT staff of 13 to keep its critical systems running and protected against security threats.
Analysts have noted that such scaled down operations could pose security challenges for agencies if the shutdown persists. The latest round of Microsoft patches could be the first of those challenges.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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