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Government Shutdown Poses Data Loss Risks

The government shutdown left United States data open to corruption and hacking.

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Security and Corrupted Data Risks Due to Government Shutdown

The recent United States government shutdown affected 800,000 workers in a variety of agencies, but what is lesser known is the effect the shutdown had on the government’s economic data.

Many of the government researchers who were temporarily without work were a part of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis as well as the Census Bureau. The data from their research measures the country’s gross domestic product, international trade information, the pace of new home building, durable goods, and monthly retail sales. Overall, much of the data is used to determine the country’s economic state.

While new information about the country’s economic structure simply wasn’t collected during the shutdown, the existing data in the system was at risk.

Ways U.S. Cybersecurity Was at Risk

  • Employees–government workers who were without pay for those 35 days were more likely to sell their passwords for IT systems and websites only they had access to. Those who may have found another job during the shutdown, still had access to the government sites.
  • Hackers–Due to the length of the shutdown, intelligent hackers had time to plan elaborate attacks on idle federal governments networks. Their initial hacks on these networks could perpetuate attacks on more valuable targets.
  • No Recruits–With the shutdown, fewer cyber security specialists will feel compelled to work for the U.S. government. Without a variety of skills on the Cybersecurity team, the more open to cyber attacks the country is.

Data Loss Threats from the Shutdown

In addition to the data breach possibilities, the shutdown could have opened up government websites and information to instances of lost files and deleted data. After the government shutdown in 2013, many posed questions as to how much data could have been lost or corrupted. As the 2018-19 closure lasted twice as long, this only posed a higher threat.

Many websites that ended in .gov had encryption certificates that expired during the shutdown. This not only meant that they were subject to exposure of impersonator sites, but that they were susceptible to data corruption. Data corruption occurs when the data inside a file has been changed from its original state. This may affect a website’s database, preventing your site from working properly.

Another way the government computer systems may have lost data is due to software corruption. Many times, this is the result of improper shutdowns procedures. If before the temporary government closure, the sites or databases were not shut down properly, the corrupted software may not be able to run again and there is no access to data stored in the software.

What This Means for Americans

Many businesses including farmers, retailers, and builders, rely on the reports provided by the Commerce Department to make decisions on spending, production, hiring, and more. Without the proper data and reports to assemble a clear picture as to the health of the U.S. economy, consumers and businesses alike do not have as much confidence in their decisions. This results in less money spent and collected.

With a lack of access to critical data that predicts the United States financial state, the upper level federal workers will not have an idea of what policies to put in place. These are the decisions that directly affect Americans. On a family level, those looking to compare the quality of nursing homes or the cost of colleges would not have the most up-to-date information to make an informed decision.

Aside from the economic effects and decision-making implications, there is a massive amount of backlog that government workers will have to sift through now that the shutdown is over. As they attempt to catch up to the latest security threats and concerns, they will also be attempting to produce the economic reports from the 35 days that no information was available. This lapse in time only leaves the government open to more cybersecurity threats and greater data loss.

Secure Data Recovery Can Help

It is not only government facilities that are susceptible to data loss. For businesses and individuals alike, it is not a matter of “if” they will lose data, it is a matter of “when.” Secure Data Recovery Services offers 24/7/365 assistance for anyone with corrupted information, deleted files, or damaged hard drives. If you or your business has experienced data loss, do not attempt to use data recovery software as this will only overwrite your data and hurt your chances of a successful recovery. Call our customer service line at 1-800-388-1266 to start your case.

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