Critical Read

Why agencies are drowning in data

adrift in a sea of data

What: A new report commissioned by IT security firm Symantec that finds government agencies still struggle to find effective big data strategies.

Why: Awareness of the big-data phenomenon – the deluge of information uncorked by the connectivity of devices – is not the problem. According to the study, which surveyed 152 federal and 153 private-sector attorneys, IT executives, FOIA agents and records managers, the real challenge is finding an effective strategy to deal with it all.

While 76 percent of federal employees surveyed said their agency has a "formal, enterprise-wide information governance strategy," only 22 percent said that strategy is very effective. Furthermore, though 63 percent of federal respondents said their agency had invested in security software in the last two years, just 40 percent said they would give their agency an "A" grade for data protection, the study found.

Both federal and private-sector respondents said educating end users on the importance of records management and improving training and technology were key to bolstering data security. Respondents were also asked about several technologies and techniques that their agency might spend money on over the next one to two years. Security software, document management and data backup were the most popular choices for federal employees.

Verbatim: "Feds and businesses agree that data security and protection is the single largest risk to information governance."

Read the full report (registration required).

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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