Federal Agencies Lack in Cybersecurity Efforts

Laura BednarCybersecurity and VulnerabilitiesLeave a Comment

Federal Agencies Lack in Cybersecurity

Though cybersecurity is quickly becoming a necessary part of every business’ strategic plan, several federal agencies are still falling short in their online defense systems. A recent study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that of the 23 federal agencies they surveyed, 22 have a designated executive in charge of risk, but did not fully incorporate other key security practices.

Federal Agencies Cybersecurity Efforts

Current Cybersecurity Measures

While some businesses are taking precautions with their digital systems, others have https://www.secureforensics.com/blog/small-medium-businesses-dismiss-cyberattack-risk. The Federal Communications Commission lists several tips for cybersecurity:

  • Training employees in proper security practices
  • Updating security software
  • Having backup copies of important business data and information
  • Limiting access to internal systems
  • Strengthening passwords

These may seem like common practice and are a necessary part of a security-driven culture. If protection is not the default on every device and at the forefront of a business, it puts the business’ and their customer’s sensitive data at risk.

Cost of Attacks on All Sizes of Business

A report at the beginning of 2019 found that the average estimated cost of a cyberattack on an enterprise was $1.1 million last year. The biggest losses in these situations were productivity, negative customer experience, and brand reputation loss. Cyberattacks cut deeper than just cashflow, it affects your company’s image that may have taken years to build up.

In the case of federal agencies, they are generally more trusted than smaller organizations to be sources of information. Americans rely on the federal agencies to influence lawmakers and serve the people. Without proper security for online systems, there is little trust in agencies to not only run efficiently but protect consumer data everywhere. The GAO reported that in the fiscal year 2017, federal executive branch civilian agencies reported 35,277 cybersecurity incidents.

Where Companies Lack

The GAO report found several shortcomings in federal agency cybersecurity efforts. Out of the 23 agencies surveyed, their shortcomings included:

  • Only seven of the 23 agencies had proper firewalls in place
  • 16 agencies have not fully established a cybersecurity risk management strategy to create boundaries for risk-based decisions
  • 13 agencies have no coordination between their cybersecurity team and enterprise risk management system
  • 17 agencies have not established a process for assessing and dealing with risks.

The biggest challenge for agencies is hiring and retaining cybersecurity personnel. While 22 of the agencies have a designated executive in charge of risk, they have no other employees to back them up. The other top challenges for implementing security risk management for agencies are:

  • Managing priorities between operations and cybersecurity
  • Establishing consistent cybersecurity policies
  • Receiving quality data to understand what the risks are
  • Developing agency-wide cybersecurity risk management strategies

Future of Cybersecurity in Federal Agencies

Agencies were given several recommendations to improve their defenses but failed to implement them. This opens up the enterprise to more cyber attacks, and simple ones at that. When defenses increase, hackers have to create more intricate ways to hack and are therefore kept from the data. While there is limited security, basic attacks through phishing emails and false links will continue to threaten national security.

A collaborative effort to resolve the challenges that agencies face is the only way that security for digital systems will improve. Our team at Secure Forensics believes in cybersecurity and provides a variety of services that support that including data breach response, malware detection and removal, and fraud investigation. For more information on any of our services, call 1-800-388-1266.