January 27, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 27


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PII At Risk on Mobile Passport Control Apps!

BankInfoSecurity.com reported that “U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] has not always protected its Mobile Passport Control applications, making travelers' personally identifiable information vulnerable to exploitation, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General [OIG].”  The July 23, 2021 entitled “US Customs Apps Put Travelers' PII at Risk” included these comments:

CBP did not scan 91% of application updates released between 2016 and 2019 as is required to detect vulnerabilities, OIG discovered.

Instead, CBP relied on updates from app developers, but the agency was not always notified when updates occurred, according to the report.

Also, CBP did not complete seven security and privacy compliance reviews of the apps, as required by the MPC Privacy Impact Assessment, because it did not obtain necessary information, "had competing priorities, and did not ensure app developers created a required process needed to perform mandatory internal audits," OIG states.

Also the “OIG recommended CBP take eight steps to improve its cyber resiliency” and the CBP concurred to the eight steps:

  1. Scan all apps prior to release and also scan updated versions;

  2. Codify the scan processes and define the roles and responsibilities necessary to carry them out; have CBP Office of Information and Technology specialists review all app scan results;

  3. Conduct required security and privacy compliance reviews, track reviews and centrally store the documentation;

  4. Ensure the offices receive all necessary information from developers to complete the "requirements traceability matrix" questionnaire;

  5. Develop a capability to review access logs, define the periodic review timeframe and perform required reviews;

  6. Have the executive director of the Privacy and Diversity Office complete the required privacy evaluation review;

  7. Develop a process to conduct internal audits and perform them;

  8. Adhere to DHS policy and fully implement the Defense Information Systems Agency Security Technical Implementation Guide control categories for the servers supporting the MPC program.

Hopefully, these recommendations will help protect PII!

© 2023 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 208

About this Author

Peter Vogel, trial attorney, Foley Lardner

Peter Vogel is renowned as both a trial and transactional lawyer who deeply understands technology, science and intellectual property, and the opportunities and problems they pose for clients. Governments and administrative agencies, as well as major corporations and emerging businesses, rely on Peter to get right to the heart of an information technology or e-discovery dispute; he knows what to expect and how it will play out in the courtroom. This eliminates unproductive rabbit trails and reduces the cost of litigation for all parties. When negotiating agreements for...