Citizens worry feds can't protect data

"Keeping the Faith: Government Information Security in the Internet Age"

American citizens are concerned about the ability of the federal government

to secure its computer systems and to ensure that personal information stored

in those systems is not misused, according to a study released this week.

The study "Keeping the Faith: Government Information Security in the

Internet Age," commissioned by the Information Technology Association of

America, comes on the heels of a congressional report card on agency security — which gave the government a D-minus overall for security.

Overall, citizens believe business does a better job of protecting the

data on their computers than federal, state and local governments do, according

to the study. The survey found that out of 1,000 people, only 22 percent

believed that the government does the best job of protecting data. Another

81 percent said they were concerned that their government-held personal

data might be misused some day.

Computer crime and the security problems at the Energy Department's

Los Alamos National Laboratory have contributed to citizens' lack of confidence

in the government's security abilities, and security technology does not

make them feel any more secure.

This skepticism includes the 71 percent of the participants who say

they do not feel safer using digital signatures, which can be used to authenticate

and encrypt electronic transactions, for legal documents.

Most also said they would prefer that the government appoint a chief

information officer for the government instead of spending more money on

IT and security issues.

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