Government Is the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat

Government Is the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat

Government workers see their own agencies as a bigger cybersecurity threat than hackers from China or Russia, according to a new survey.

The Obama administration has worked to boost the networks of the federal government, which have endured a string of data breaches in recent years, including the massive theft of information on an estimated 21.5 million federal employees or job applicants from the databases of the Office of Personnel Management. The hack is thought to have originated in China, but the biggest threat is in Washington, D.C., according to a new survey of federal IT workers sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

The biggest threat to federal cybersecurity is “the negligent insider” at an agency who fails to take enough precautions while using or protecting government networks, according to 44 percent of federal workers responding to the survey. Only 30 percent of respondents stated that nation-state hackers were the primary threat, according to the survey. Hacks known as “zero-day attacks,” so-called because they have never been used publicly, and mistakes by third-party government contractors each tallied 36 percent as the primary threat among respondents.

Federal government workers recognized in the survey that their agencies are unprepared for hacks and that they need more skilled programmers to help secure networks. Forty-one percent of federal workers rated their agency’s ability to prevent a hack as very high, while 46 percent rated their agency’s ability to detect a hack quickly as very high. Lack of skilled personnel was ranked by a majority of 53 percent of federal IT workers as the biggest challenge to cybersecurity within federal agencies.

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