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Cyber Threats Top Concern for Fed IT Staff But Uncertainty Surrounds Responsibility

Cybersecurity is still a major worry of government IT personnel, presenting an opportunity for data protection vendors, according to two recent surveys by Cisco and MeriTalk.

In the Cisco-sponsored study,  71 percent of the federal IT managers surveyed said that the top threat scenario was the “increased sophistication of cyberattacks.”

A survey conducted by MeriTalk, an online community for federal agencies, found that cybersecurity threats had increased in the past year. MeriTalk believes the rise is due to greater amounts of government information, widespread number of devices and more sophisticated attacks.

The results from both surveys indicate greater opportunity for cybersecurity solution vendors, but federal budget constraints present a challenge to these vendors.

The Cisco survey found that 53 percent of respondents saw budget concerns impacting their efforts to reach cybersecurity goals, and MeriTalk found that agencies have about 60 percent of the funds necessary for their cybersecurity needs.

MeriTalk found that many agencies are still uncertain as to what government organization is ultimately responsible for protecting against cyberthreats.

 When asked what agency is responsible, the top response was “other” with 35 percent of respondents. In a list of six different organizations, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security each received a response of 14 percent, and the Defense Department received 6 percent.

“”This is of significant concern because coordinated monitoring and response is critical — definitely a ‘we all sink or swim together’ situation,” said Steve O’Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk. “This should be a priority for the new federal chief information officer.”

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