As government agencies continue to ward off an increasing number of cyberattacks, they are working to identify gaps and develop strategies to bolster their cyber resilience and maintain mission focus. These attacks, ranging from phishing attacks to ransomware attacks, are only increasing in scope and complexity. While adversaries’ methods may vary, their goals of doing harm are the same.
The term “cyber resilience” is becoming a popular way to describe the ability to quickly analyze, understand, and manage cyberattacks – so that agencies can stay one step ahead of adversaries.
A new study from MeriTalk and Splunk surveyed 310 Federal, state, and local government cybersecurity professionals to find out how agencies are addressing these challenges and how they characterize their cybersecurity readiness.
For instance, the study revealed that 89 percent of Federal security professionals, along with 79 percent of state and local government security pros say that heightened world tensions have led to an increased focus on cyber resilience within their organizations. While Federal agency officials are three times more likely than state and local organization counterparts to grade their current cyber resilience with an “A” – 27 percent to 9 percent.
However, the study reveals that less than 40 percent of leaders in either group are “very confident” in their organization’s ability to maintain vital services in the face of cyberattacks, insider threats, infrastructure outages, and critical application failures.
Eight-two percent of respondents admitted their organization still associates the concept of resilience with basic compliance and risk management functions, leaving many developing their resilience strategies already behind the curve.
Respondents said that the most vulnerable areas to cyber risk exposures include:
- Sensitive data, at 71 percent;
- Personally identifiable information, at 62 percent; and
- Cloud systems, at 55 percent.
As for the biggest threat to an organization’s cyber resilience, malware topped the list for both Federal agency respondents – 57 percent – and those from state and local organizations – 71 percent. The second biggest threat for Federal agencies was malicious insiders – 45 percent – and for state and local organizations it was ransomware attacks – 59 percent.
So, how are agencies working to improve their cyber resilience?
Eighty-seven percent of respondents said improved visibility is the foundation of improved resilience.
One respondent said they “elevated cyber resilience to a board- and executive-level issue,” a move that has increased their organization’s cyber resilience the most over the past two years.
In the future, organizations are looking to focus investments in a number of areas, including:
- Workforce training – 42 percent of Federal agencies and 66 percent of state and local; and
- Data encryption – 49 percent of Feds and 48 percent of state and local.
Going forward, organizations believe internal collaboration, a strong culture of risk management, improved funding, and dedicated cyber resilience training and awareness will have the greatest impacts on improving cyber resilience.
To learn more about how to bolster cyber resilience, register for Splunk’s GovSummit, “Mission Possible: Cyber Resilience for Any Mission” on December 14 in Washington, D.C. There, leaders in both government and industry will discuss how to build cyber resilience to meet every mission, securely.