Aussie government watchdog the National Audit Office has called on all government agencies to block free web-based email services like Gmail and Hotmail.
During an audit of electronic security at four Federal departments and agencies found one department, Prime Minister and Cabinet, allowed staff to access the free unsecured email services for business reasons.
However, the auditor said that public email services should be blocked on computer systems, as these can provide an easily accessible point of entry for an external attack. Prime Minister and Cabinet told the auditor that it would cease allowing staff access to free email services from July 1. Other agencies, including Medicare, ComSuper and the Australian Office of Financial Management have also agreed to stop using public email.
The auditor was also worried that agencies should change passwords after administrator or service account passwords were hacked at three of the four agencies examined in the report. The Accountants tested the agency passwords using a ‘brute force’ test and managed to hack one in five passwords.