Study: Cybersecurity, cloud adoption lagging

Professional Services Council

The Professional Services Council conducts an annual survey of CIOs and other senior officials throughout the federal government to get an understanding of their concerns and priorities. (Image: 2015 CIO Survey / PSC)

Although cybersecurity remains the top priority for federal CIOs, finding enough IT talent and slow adoption of cloud services also turned up as significant challenges in the Professional Services Council's 2015 CIO and CISO survey.

The survey of 67 IT leaders found CIOs and federal IT experts were skittish about the widening field of external and internal electronic assailants, probes and threats. The study, done with Grant Thornton, found that 90 percent of the CIOs surveyed saw an upswing in cyber incidents in 2014 and 28 percent reported a 51-100 percent increase in cyber threats.

A glimmer of good news: CIOs said at least part of those increases could be due to more effective approaches used to monitor threats.

A less notorious and work-a-day issue is on CIOs' minds is the aging IT workforce.

Finding and competing for new IT workers is extremely difficult for federal agencies. They remain pitted against extremely alluring and competitive tech-sector jobs, and face hiring freezes and declining budgets, said the study. The study noted that for every federal IT worker under 30, there are 10 over 50.

Federal CIOs are also looking for stronger cloud services efforts. Only 8 percent in the survey said they were exactly where they wanted to be with cloud adoption. "We need a stronger strategy and vision that identifies how we can deploy more to the cloud securely and how it will benefit the organization and our stakeholders," the study quoted one respondent as saying.

The study found that CIOs see cloud as a platform they can use to speed adoption of innovative development approaches, but most aren't leveraging it fully. Forty six percent of respondents said they were using private cloud, 39 percent were using public and 15 used a hybrid.

However, the study, said "most have only tackled the low hanging fruit" with cloud.

"We’ve tackled the easy stuff, moving email and websites to the cloud. Now, we are looking at how we can use a more agile set of tools for application development in the cloud," the study quotes one CIO as saying.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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