Even as the government attempts to deploy stricter data security measures to protect against cyber attacks, intrusions targeting federal IT networks are rampant, one official recently said.
Speaking to a House subcommittee on national security, Sean McGurk, director of the Control Systems Security Program at the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security, said the federal government's networks experienced an average of 15,000 cyber attacks last year – totaling 5.4 million hits.
While McGurk did not specify how many of these hits were successful, the number is alarming and highlights the necessity of effective data security measures at all federal agencies.
Earlier this year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies published a report that asserted the federal government has not made enough progress in terms of protecting the nation's cyberspace from malicious attacks. While cybersecurity has become a more important issue for the federal government, the report suggested that more must be done to protect the nation's critical IT infrastructure.
One security measure that has already been deployed in the majority of federal agencies is Einstein 2, which is designed to detect network intrusions and identify malicious activity. According to McGurk, Einstein 2 has been implemented in 15 of 19 agencies.
Despite the effectiveness of Einstein 2, the DHS is currently working on the third phase of the system. Similar to Einstein 2, the third installment will be able to detect network intrusions. But, according to McGurk, Einstein 3 will also be able to disrupt malicious activity before harm is done to a network or system.
However, McGurk acknowledged that "the cybersecurity challenge will not be solved by a single technology solution." Rather, he stated, the DHS is strengthening its cybersecurity workforce to enable it to address challenges more effectively. According to McGurk, the DHS tripled its cybersecurity workforce in 2009 and nearly doubled it in 2010.