One of the odd themes you have running through totalitarian narratives is that, by God, they might see everything they do, but at least the people running our lives are competent. So, if that was your last bit of hope in light of the rolling trainwreck that are the PRISM revelations, we hate to say this, but the Senate has some bad news for you.
Basically, the entire government is terrible at protecting the sensitive information it’s collected. Government employees consistently have terrible passwords, like, you guessed it, “password.” They’ve got their passwords written next to their monitors. In some sectors, the IT department is so hated employees have built their own makeshift network of personal gear just to avoid calling them; that’s something the people in charge of our nuclear reactors did! Your tax information isn’t encrypted by the IRS. Your student loan information is stored on servers that you can basically just log into.
So, who’s in charge of this disaster? The Department of Homeland Security. Surely, they’ve got their security together, at least. Aaaaaaand actually they’re the worst offender. Take it away, Washington Post:
The report levels particularly tough criticism at the Department of Homeland Security, which helps oversee cybersecurity at other federal agencies. The report concluded that the department had failed even to update essential software — “the basic security measure just about any American with a computer has performed.”
By the way, the 2013 budget for the Department of Homeland Security was $68.9 billion last year. Yes, with a B. You’d think with that budget they could get some computers that don’t suck or pay some teenager to run around updating their software.
This is perhaps not surprising; the government is an enormous organization and security lapses are a painfully common problem. That said, come on, guys, if you spent half as much time tightening up your sh*t as you did reading our email, we wouldn’t be having this problem.