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.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

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.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group