As government agencies continue their IT modernization initiatives, administrators find themselves in precarious positions when it comes to security. That’s the overall sentiment expressed in the 2016 Federal Cybersecurity Survey1. The report found that efforts to build more modern, consolidated, and secure information technology environment networks increase security challenges, but management tools offer a potential antidote to the threats.
Modernization increased IT security challenges
Federal administrators managing the transition from legacy to modernized infrastructure face enormous challenges. The transition creates a large amount of IT complexities that burden administrators who must manage old and new systems that are very different from one another.
Many noted that consolidation and modernization efforts increase security challenges due to incomplete transitions (48 percent), overly complex enterprise management tools (46 percent), and a lack of familiarity with new systems (44 percent). Other factors included cloud services adoption (35 percent), and increased compliance reporting (31 percent).
However, 20 percent believe the transition toward more modern and consolidated infrastructures ultimately will net more streamlined and secure networks. They said replacing legacy software (55 percent) and equipment (52 percent), the adoption of simplified administration and management systems (42 percent), and having fewer configurations (40 percent) will help secure networks once the arduous transition phase is complete.
Foreign governments tie internal threats as chief concerns
For the first time, respondents said that foreign governments are just as much of a cybersecurity threat as untrained internal workers. In fact, 48 percent called out foreign governments as their top threat—an increase of 10 percentage points over our 2015 survey2.
That’s not to say that insider threats have been minimized. On the contrary. The number of people who feel insiders pose a major threat is still higher than it was just two years ago.
Investing in the right security tools can help mitigate threats
Patch management software is among the solutions administrators invest in and use to great effect, with 62 percent indicating that their agencies partake in the practice. Of those, 45 percent noted a decrease in the time required to detect a security breach, while 44 percent experienced a decrease in the amount of time it takes them to respond to a breach.
Respondents noted security information and event management (SIEM) solutions as highly effective in combating threats. While only 36 percent stated that their agencies had such tools in place, administrators who use SIEM tools felt significantly more equipped to detect just about any potential threats.
While a majority of respondents still feel their agencies are just as vulnerable to attacks now as a year ago, it is good to see an increase in the number of respondents who feel agencies have become less vulnerable. This is likely due to the fact that administrators have become highly cognizant about the potential threats and are using the proper solutions to fight them.
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