If you’ve paid attention to the news at all throughout the past year, you’ve likely been made aware of a new major security breach on an alarmingly frequent basis. (Or if you’re out of touch with current events, perhaps your bank or movie theater alerted you to a major corporate hack.) As we see more and more security breaches, we learn that many of their causes point to hackers, foreign governments or other antagonists. But when we looked at the federal government and explored its primary sources of IT security threats, we discovered an interesting (and potentially concerning) discrepancy between the causes and impact of federal security breaches and the level of attention being paid them.

In a sequel to last year’s federal cybersecurity survey, we again partnered with government research firm Market Connections to survey 200 IT and IT security leaders in the federal government and military on their top cybersecurity threat sources, obstacles to threat prevention, necessary tools for threat prevention, and their concerns, investment and policies regarding cybersecurity. We specifically broke out data to explore these areas for threats caused by malicious external sources, malicious internal sources, and accidental or careless insiders.

First, we found that federal IT Pros identified careless and untrained insiders as their greatest source of cybersecurity threats – over malicious external sources such as hackers and terrorists.

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However, when we asked about investment and concern regarding threats, malicious external threats got the lion’s share. Perhaps federal IT Pros think malicious external threats are more damaging so they deserve more investment and attention? We asked about that, too. And we found that plenty of respondents think insider threats are as damaging as or even more damaging than external threats.

So what is being done about the most common – and perhaps most damaging – accidental insider threat? Respondents weighed in on where their data is most at risk, their security policies and the necessary tools for threat prevention.

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By monitoring connections and devices on the network, and by maintaining logs and data of user activity, IT Pros can assess WHERE on the network certain activity took place, WHEN it occurred, WHAT assets were on the network and WHO was logged into those assets.

With the right solutions, federal IT Pros can get the visibility they need into their IT infrastructure’s security posture to prevent threats before they become breaches.


Full survey results: