Study Says U.S. Government the Worst in Terms of Cyber Security

A recent study showed that U.S. federal, state, and local government agencies rank last in terms of cyber security when compared to 17 other private industries which include those in transportation, retail, and healthcare.

SecurityScorecard, a venture-backed security risk benchmarking startup, published the cyber security report. They measure the relative security health of government and related industries across 10 categories which include: malware infection vulnerability, exposure rate of passwords, and susceptibility to social engineering. The last meaning when an employee might utilise corporate information on social networking.

The study also found that educational, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical companies were among those that ranked low. Top performers include information services, construction, food, and technological institutions.

It’s been a struggle for government agencies to fight against malicious hackers and insider threats – a huge problem that was put in the spotlight when at least 21 million individuals had their personal data accessed during a security breach at the Office of Personnel Management.

U.S. federal, state, and local government agencies rank last compared to 17 private industries.

On top of that, SecurityScorecard stated that it has come across up to 35 major data breaches in government agencies alone in a span of a year (from April 2015 to April 2016).

U.S. President Barack Obama has prioritised improving cyber security in government agencies during his remaining time in office. He asked congress to allot $19 billion to this cause as part of the fiscal 2017 budget. This included $3.1 billion in technology modernisation across various agencies.

These same federal agencies rated poorly in the network security, software patching flaws, and malware categories according to SecurityScorecard. This puts the federal agencies more vulnerable to risk since they are larger in size.

The SecurityScorecard report also found out that out of the 600 agencies tested, NASA was the worst. They were the most at risk in terms of email spoofing and malware intrusions, among a number of other weaknesses according to the report.

Among the other underperforming agencies include the U.S. Department of State and information technology systems used by Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington and Maricopa County, Arizona. Organisations that had the strongest security systems were from Clark County, Nevada; the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota.

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