Cybersecurity Top Priority for Federal Verticals

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A study commissioned by Lockheed Martin and Cyber Security Alliance partners indicates cybersecurity is a top priority among federal, military and intelligence verticals. Despite previous setbacks, government and other public sector partners might do well to lay a foundation of strategy and policy in anticipation of future federal cybersecurity investments.

Cybersecurity will likely remain top-of-mind for government and military organizations for a long time, according to a study commissioned by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and its Cyber Security Alliance partners. This means, despite previous setbacks, government and public sector partners could ramp up cybersecurity strategies for customers that ultimately pave the way for long-term infrastructure investments.

The survey acquired feedback from all military branches and an array of government agencies in an effort to measure awareness and attitudes around cloud computing, cybersecurity, mobility and Big Data.

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The study finds cybersecurity overwhelmingly topped the list of IT priorities for government organizations. Specifically, 85 percent of government technology decision makers in federal, intelligence, defense and military organizations cite cybersecurity as a high priority, with at least one or more related initiative underway.

Of course, threats facing government and military agencies are more or less the same as those that impact other organizations. Government sectors say they have concerns around and are subject to  malware, phishing, data leaks, hacking, spam, social networking and insider threats, cyber-espionage and mobile security issues, among others. And most government organizations consider themselves well-equipped to deal with these threats.

Many are also distracted by investments in new and disruptive technologies, such as mobile device initiatives, cloud and Big Data solutions, that provide efficiencies, tangible cost benefits and high ROI when sharing and storing information. As a result, more traditional and comprehensive cybersecurity solutions go by the wayside.

However, one of the biggest differences with elite government, military and intelligence agencies is that there's a lot more is at stake. With the proliferation of advanced persistent threats and other malware, failing to meet cybersecurity benchmarks could jeopardize critical government and military systems, and subsequently compromise classified information relevant to national security.

Going forward, the government will be tasked with balancing its rapid adoption of disparate technologies and platforms with cybersecurity mechanisms that protect data in increasingly complex environments, the study finds.

"Government's challenge is two-fold, adopting transformational technologies to help reduce operating costs while also keeping systems and data safe,” said Rick Johnson, vice president and chief technology officer at Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions. “Our Lockheed Martin Cyber Security Alliance partners are keenly focused on collaboration and innovation to provide seamless end-to-end security with affordability in mind.”

This bodes well for government, military and other public sector partners, who could make new investments in their customers and lay the groundwork for cybersecurity infrastructure with strategy and policy consulting and assessments.

Meanwhile, government and critical infrastructure channels have seen setbacks in recent months. One of the biggest: the recent defeat of the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA 2012), a bill that promised to harden security defenses, establish requirements around critical infrastructure and provide compliance incentives that better enabled utilities and public sector organizations to do so. The bill, however, met a premature end in the Senate when it failed to receive the necessary 60 votes to ensure its passage.

Undoubtedly, CSA 2012 would've opened a few doors for government and public sector solution providers, especially those partnering with Cyber Security Alliance partners and major vendors touting well-established relationships in federal, utility, manufacturing and intelligence arenas.

Expectations around cybersecurity could change. Rumors are circulating that President Barack Obama could supersede CSA 2012’s defeat by imposing an executive order mandating cybersecurity infrastructure standards.

Yet even without the backing of federal legislation,  public sector organizations are clearly still at risk from cyber-espionage and other external attacks -- a fact not lost on government and military verticals.

For Lockheed Martin, that knowledge comes firsthand. Last year, the U.S. defense contractor was subjected to a “significant and tenacious attack” on its systems following a hack that compromised RSA SecureID tokens.

The study indicates that, despite previous setbacks in federal and government arenas, efforts to bolster security infrastructure and raise awareness around threats are still underway.

The channel might not want to shelve its government Rolodex just yet.

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