As the U.S. government continues to search for better ways to protect the nation's critical IT infrastructure, both its challenges and goals are beginning to reflect those of private sector organizations, a new (ISC)2 study found.
According to an electronic poll of 10,413 IT security professionals conducted by research firm Frost & Sullivan, the government's cyber security and other IT priorities and policies are more aligned with those of the private sector than ever before.
As the report suggests, many of the same security threats facing businesses, including mobile devices, cloud computing and social media, are also being confronted by federal agencies. However, within government organizations, these threats are often compounded, given that they could potentially expose national secrets and other sensitive information.
According to the report, application vulnerabilities present the biggest challenge facing IT professionals – cited by 73 percent of respondents. This was followed by mobile devices, viruses and worm attacks and internal threats, each of which was cited by more than 60 percent of respondents.
One IT area that has been particularly contentious in terms of data security in recent years is cloud computing. Though many experts now say the cloud can provide better protection than many on-premise solutions, IT professionals from both the public and private sectors still harbor reservations about the technology.
Therefore, as the government continues to roll out its "cloud first" IT strategy, federal IT leaders will have to be cautious to ensure the information stored in the cloud isn't in jeopardy of being breached.
To cope with these challenges, the report stated, government agencies will likely more than double the number of information security personnel it employs. According to the report, the number of federal IT security employees will reach 61,000 by 2015, up from 27,000 last year.