Federal IT Professionals See Cyber-Security As Top Concern

Federal IT Professionals See Cyber-Security As Top ConcernSuch is the main takeaway finding from InformationWeek's last two annual surveys of federal government IT priorities.

Perhaps this is not really much of a surprise. After all, this is the federal government we are talking about. It is probably the world's leading handler of sensitive information. And the highly sensitive data is not just in the obvious places.

Yes, the CIA wants to secure its data about terrorists' whereabouts, and the Pentagon wants to secure details of the drones used to attack them. But then there's also the boring old Social Security Administration. No one makes action movies about it. But sensitive data? How about everyone's Social Security number and account information? The Social Security IT operation is Fort Knox for would-be identity thieves.

The InformationWeek survey provides some other interesting security tidbits. The federal government IT professionals they surveyed regard organized cybercrime and politically-motivated hactivists as the main threats they must protect against. Again this is no big surprise. Organized criminals can aim high. And hactivists have a particular beef with the feds.

Having said that, none of these findings are unique to the federal government. Business cyber-security surveys are finding a similar picture. In particular, hactivists are ever-more prominent in the overall enterprise cyber-security picture. In the era of the Occupy movement and broad public discontent, political hactivists can count on significant public support – and sometimes a handy excuse.

Another notable finding in the federal IT survey is that the vulnerability which IT professionals feel least prepared to handle is social media. This too mirrors recent business experience. Social media are a powerful channel for the disgruntled – and also the naïve, who can be targeted by "social engineering" and lured into revealing sensitive information.

In short, the federal government shares many of the same security needs and experiences as the business sector does. Firms are not exempt from the security threats that government IT shops must battle every day.