Insider Threats a Major Security Issue for Federal Agencies
The MeriTalk survey found 51 percent of respondents say it is common for federal employees not to follow appropriate protocols.While the vast majority of federal agencies--76 percent--are more focused on combating insider threats today than they were a year ago, 45 percent were a target of an insider threat, and nearly one in three (29 percent) lost data to an insider threat in the last 12 months, according to a MeriTalk survey. The report surveyed 150 federal IT managers familiar with their organizations’ cyber security efforts to examine the most common insider threats agencies face today, the strengths and weaknesses of insider threat programs, and how agencies can reduce the risks and consequences of this growing vulnerability. The survey found 51 percent of respondents say it is common for employees to not follow appropriate protocols, and 40 percent say unauthorized employees access government information they shouldn’t at least once weekly – putting their agencies at significant risk. In addition, agencies don’t know what they don’t know – 45 percent cannot tell if a document has been inappropriately shared, 42 percent cannot tell how a document was shared, and 34 percent cannot tell what data has been lost.
"The most startling finding from the survey is the fact that 45 percent of agencies say they’ve been a target of an attack – malicious or unintentional – yet 50 percent still say employees do not follow all the protocols in place," Steve O’Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk, told eWEEK. "There is also a lack of agreement on the best solution. Frequent, hands-on employee training is the key to preventing these incidents, as well as accountability. However, we are all human and people make mistakes. Agencies require robust security systems as a second line of defense when threats fall through the cracks."