Whistleblowers at risk when using US government websites

The ACLU is recommending that more than two dozen websites be upgraded to use encryption

More than two dozen U.S. government websites should be urgently upgraded to use encryption, as whistleblowers are potentially at risk, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

At least 29 websites that can be used for reporting abuse and fraud don't use encryption, the ACLU said in a letter sent on Tuesday to the U.S.'s top technology chief, CIO Tony Scott.

There has been a broad push recently to move websites to using SSL/TLS (secure sockets layer/transport security layer) encryption. Most e-commerce sites use SSL/TLS, but the case has grown stronger for its broader adoption because of a surge in state-sponsored espionage and cybercriminal activity.

The government plans to upgrade all of its websites within two years to use encryption, signified by "https" in a browser's URL bar. It prevents data that is exchanged between a computer and a website from being read if it is intercepted or tampered with during a man-in-the-middle attack.

The ACLU said that the timeline "is not soon enough for some sensitive sites," which it said included the Justice Department, Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

For example, the State Department has a page where people can report terrorism-related tips, but that information is not protected by encryption when sent, the ACLU wrote.

"When individuals use these official whistleblowing channels to report waste, fraud or abuse, the information they submit is transmitted insecurely over the Internet where it can be intercepted by others," ACLU wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags encryptionAmerican Civil Liberties Union

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?