Report: Some good news on government IT security

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers states that the government has greatly improved its use of security technology, but it still lags on setting policies for using that technology and training employees about it.

Less than two of three government officials responding to the survey said their organizations have an overall information security strategy or centralized security information management process, and about half don’t understand basic ideas such as risks to sensitive data.

Three-quarters of the public-sector respondents said their organizations have people directly responsible for security, either as a chief information security officer or chief security officer. Slightly more than half of those respondents had those positions in 2006.

Meanwhile, organizations have made “wholesale, double-digit advances across a wide range of security technologies, from prevention to detection,” the PricewaterhouseCoopers report states. The gains came in data encryption and areas such as reduced or single sign-ons and centralized user data stores, the survey states.

However, most organizations don’t know how much personal data they collect, transmit and store, the company said, and many don’t have a requirement that employees certify in writing that they are following internal privacy policies.

The survey also found that less than half of the organizations have identity management strategies or tiered authentication levels that limit various users’ access to data.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report concludes that many of these gaps could be plugged by government organizations adopting sound security practices, such as enacting a risk-based approach to security, extending protection to employee data, auditing and monitoring users’ compliance with policies, and developing an incident response plan.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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