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WASHINGTON Some U.S. Department of Homeland
Security employees in the Washington area and Philadelphia were
unable to access some agency computer networks on Tuesday,
according to three sources familiar with the matter.
It was not clear how widespread the issue was or how
significantly it affected daily functions at DHS, a large
government agency whose responsibilities include immigration
services, border security and cyber defense.
In a statement, a DHS official confirmed a network outage
that temporarily affected four U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) facilities in the Washington area due to an “expired DHS certificate.”
Reuters first reported the incident earlier Tuesday, which a
source familiar with the matter said also affected a USCIS
facility in Philadelphia.
Employees began experiencing problems logging into networks
Tuesday morning due to a problem related to domain controllers,
or servers that process authentication requests, which could not
validate personal identity verification (PIV) cards used by
federal workers and contractors to access certain information
systems, according to the source.
Some employees were able to access systems through a virtual
private network. It was not clear if other branches of DHS were
The source characterized the issue as one stemming from
relatively benign information technology missteps and a failure
to ensure network redundancy. There was no evidence of foul
play, the source said, adding that it appeared the domain
controller credentials had expired on Monday when offices were
closed for the federal Presidents Day holiday.
“We are working to track all device certificate issuance and
expirations to ensure future lapses of service do not occur,”
the DHS official said in the statement.
President Donald Trump vowed to make cyber security a
priority during his administration, following an election marred
by hacks of Democratic Party emails that U.S. intelligence
agencies concluded were carried out by Russia in order to help
Trump, a Republican, win. At a White House event last month he
said he would “hold my Cabinet secretaries and agency heads
accountable, totally accountable, for the cyber security of
Trump had planned to sign a cyber security executive order
last month but it was put on hold to allow more time for review.
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