The biggest security threat: Employees

Cyber criminals are not the biggest security threat that agencies face. In fact, government security experts rated hackers only the third most threatening in a survey conducted by PacketMotion at the Black Hat USA 2010 conference.

Instead, nearly three-quarters of the experts cited agency employees as the biggest threat to computer systems, including privileged administrators who have access to sensitive networks and files. The number goes even higher if you add in concerns about contractor employees.

And nearly two-thirds of them said they believed foreign spies could be planted in their organizations to steal information.

What is the biggest threat to the government computing environment?

  • 58.5% Employees
  • 14.9% Administrators with access to certain networks and files
  • 8.5% Outsiders, including contractors
  • 12.8% Hackers and cyber criminals
  • 5.3% Other

Could a foreign government-backed spy infiltrate your organization to steal information?

  • Yes 62%
  • No 38%

Which country or continent is the spy most likely to come from?

  • China/Asia 61.9%
  • Russia/Eastern Europe 13.1%
  • Other 25%

What is the most challenging industry regulation you must comply with?

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard 29.8%
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology 21.3%
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act 13.8%
  • Basel Committee on Banking Supervision 6.4%
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act 4.3%
  • Other 24.5%

Which of the following is the most difficult to achieve?

  • Security 37.6%
  • Compliance 21.5%
  • Equally challenging 40.9%

About the Author

Stephen Weigand is the graphics reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 Jeffrey A. Williams Frisco Texas

I strongly disagree that the biggest security threat is employees. Rather it is ignorance.

Tue, Oct 12, 2010

kinda funny, when occasional damage is done by insiders, but then a good deal of corporate networks are probably root-kitted and infected through huge poorly configured 'trust' networks, and scada is so unprotected it probably is owned too, and even government is likely to have stealthy spyware lurking and waiting. As we've seen, it takes years to discover these things, and more will be found embedded deep in the OS or in binary drivers.

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