The infamous GSA, who in 2012, was identified for gross fraud, waste, and abuse, sent an email today disclosing to me, and every other company that has participated in Government contracting that the System for Award Management (SAM) system had a vulnerability that exposed sensitive data. Here is a copy of the email I recieved today: (bold is my emphasis)..Before I go into more detail, I would personally like to thank the GSA for exposing my bank account data and SS# through their blind incompetence. At least they “apologized” in their email.
Dear SAM user
The General Services Administration (GSA) recently has identified a security vulnerability in the System for Award Management (SAM), which is part of the cross-government Integrated Award Environment (IAE) managed by GSA. Registered SAM users with entity administrator rights and delegated entity registration rights had the ability to view any entity’s registration information, including both public and non-public data at all sensitivity levels.
Immediately after the vulnerability was identified, GSA implemented a software patch to close this exposure. As a precaution, GSA is taking proactive steps to protect and inform SAM users.
The data contained identifying information including names, taxpayer identification numbers (TINs), marketing partner information numbers and bank account information. As a result, information identifiable with your entity registered in SAM was potentially viewable to others.
Registrants using their social security numbers instead of a TIN for purposes of doing business with the federal government may be at greater risk for potential identity theft. These registrants will receive a separate email communication regarding credit monitoring resources available to them at no charge.
In the meantime, we wanted you to be aware of certain steps that all SAM users may want to take to protect against identity theft and financial loss. Specific information is available at www.gsa.gov/samsecurity. If you would like additional background or have questions, you may call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636), from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET), Monday-Friday starting Monday, March 18. We recommend that you monitor your bank accounts and notify your financial institution immediately if you find any discrepancies.
We apologize for any inconvenience or concern this situation may cause. We believe it is important for you to be fully informed of any potential risk resulting from this situation. The security of your information is a critical priority to this agency and we are working to ensure the system remains secure. We will keep you apprised of any further developments.”
Interestingly, the FAQ posted on their website does not indicate how long the data was exposed. Since SAM went into effect over a year ago, I am guessing that the vulnerability had been in place for at least a year.
Maybe, just maybe, instead of sending GSA employees to ‘cooking class’, and funding parties in Hawaii, the Federal Government should focus on protecting the data to which it is entrusted. The Federal Government recently passed a CyberSecurity directive…again, maybe they should focus on cleaning their own house.