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With the current government shutdown, numerous employees whose job is to monitor and defend digital privacy and security of citizens have been furloughed, putting U.S. citizens at risk of serious cyberattacks and other digital privacy issues on both the short-term and long-term levels.
“A spokesman for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), admitted that officials have ‘ceased a variety of critical cybersecurity and infrastructure protection capabilities’ during the shutdown. [The spokesman] said that an estimated 1,523 of the agency’s 3,531 employees – 43% were not working during the shutdown,” according to Business Insider.
With fewer workers, the DHS has focused mainly on imminent threats to people, rather than scanning for vulnerabilities. This leaves more room for attacks and information leaks than before, making it an opportune time for a cyber attacker.
“The partial shutdown is affecting how various government organizations are able to operate,” former Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Suzanne Spaulding wrote in an article published in The Hill. “The longer the shutdown continues, the more our concern should grow for our country’s cybersecurity protections – it’s natural for adversaries and nation states to see this as an opportunity for cyber mischief.”
The length of the shutdown has potentially given hackers weeks to infiltrate federal networks, according to Wired.
Another concern is that workers in the cybersecurity department will begin to leave in search for better work with more stable pay.
“In the long term, this could do irreparable damage to the federal government’s ability to hire cybersecurity talent,” Joe Uchill said in a different article published by Business Insider. “The unemployment rate for trained cybersecurity personnel is famously at 0%. The private sector pays better, and the only advantage the government has in hiring is the importance of the work and gratitude of a nation.”