U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has asked for more information on how vulnerabilities in the country’s social security system work in cyberspace, a move that could signal a change in policy and could spark a new round of litigation.
Johnson told reporters Wednesday that the department has received more than 600 cyberthreat reports since the first one was made public last year.
The agency said the number of reports has increased from the previous quarter to nearly 700 in the past three months.
The department said the department is now receiving more cyberthreats at home than in any other year.
It has received over 7,500 threats since the start of the fiscal year in March, more than any other fiscal year since the agency’s creation in 1995.
The most recent year with the highest number of reported cyberthreat incidents was the fiscal years 2016-2017, with 6,072.
The DHS has been working to address the growing threat of cyberattacks on the social security and Medicare systems, and Johnson said the agency has taken a series of actions to help protect the public from cyberattacks.
Johnson said in an email that the cyberthreat threats that the agency received in the first quarter were from individuals, but the number was expected to rise.
He said that cyberthreat assessments are underway and that the U.K.-based cyber security company FireEye said it has received “significant cyberthreat information” from DHS.
“We are also working to develop more robust, consistent cybersecurity measures and policies to reduce the likelihood of future cyber attacks on U. S. Government assets,” Johnson said in the email.
Johnson, in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, said the DHS has also taken steps to better protect federal employees and contractors from threats such as cyberattacks, cyberstalking and other threats.
He also said the government is moving forward with a plan to deploy cyberattack mitigation teams in every sector of the federal government.
“The cyber threat is an ever-evolving threat and we will be looking to implement a variety of initiatives to keep our nation’s cyber infrastructure secure and our employees and customers safe,” he said.