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Report: Cybersecurity Tops Government IT Agenda

Among the many projects competing for attention in government IT, cybersecurity is far and away the top priority, according a just-released InformationWeek Analytics survey of government technology professionals. Over the past few weeks, we've had several reminders of just why that's the case.
Among the many projects competing for attention in government IT, cybersecurity is far and away the top priority, according a just-released InformationWeek Analytics survey of government technology professionals. Over the past few weeks, we've had several reminders of just why that's the case.Our new report, "A Call To Action: Setting Government IT Priorities In An Ever-Changing World," is based on a survey of 309 government IT professionals. The report presents a wide range of findings--expectations for IT budgets for fiscal 2010, plans for operating systems and commercial/open source software, use of emerging technologies--and includes a ranking of IT initiatives among government agencies.

Cybersecurity proved to be the number 1 priority among a dozen tasks at hand. On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), survey respondents rated cyber security a 4.2. That was followed by data records management (3.8), disaster recovering planning (3.7), and identity and authentication management (3.7).

"Compared with other IT areas in our poll, security technology adoption is poised to increase significantly, despite tight budgets," writes Michael Biddick, the author of the report and an InformationWeek contributing editor and, by day, CTO of Windward IT Solutions. "Over 50% of respondents plan to increase their use of every security tool area we addressed in our poll, whereas use of general IT infrastructure management technologies remained flat. These key security technologies include intrusion detection/prevention, NAC, spyware/malware detection/prevention, and security information management. Intrusion detection was the leader, with 65% indicating increased use in their environments."

Recent events have demonstrated why that's true. Last week, a Chinese citizen in the United States on a work visa was arrested for allegedly stealing proprietary software code and sharing it with a Chinese government agency. Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported on a breach of the U.S. electrical grid by cyberspies.

Also, while our report was being written, researchers from the Information Warfare Monitor identified a suspected cyber espionage network, dubbed GhostNet, comprising more than 1,295 infected computers in 103 countries. The targets included ministries of foreign affairs,embassies, and international organizations.

Amid all this, a cybersecurity bill was just introduced in Congress that would not only overhaul IT security in government, but create a national cybersecurity advisor who would report to the president.

We'll be devoting plenty of attention to this important area of coverage at InformationWeek Government, our newly launched Web site for government IT pros and others involved in local, state, and federal IT. We welcome your feedback; please drop me a line ([email protected]) with your thoughts and ideas.

To read more about where cybersecurity fits into the government IT agenda, you can download our entire Setting Government IT Priorities report here. Registration required.