Cyber security is garnering larger headlines every day, and raising concerns in every sector. From government agencies to corporate organizations to the man on the street, everyone is working to get a handle on what security in a new digital age means. The government, historically speaking, has always lagged behind the private sector in terms of technological advances (with the possible exception of military-related technologies—although many of these are also birthed in the private sector). Is the same holding true for cyber security? Some experts think so.
Cyber security within government agencies
While headlines might highlight threats from Chinese hackers, malicious domestic hackers, and identity thieves of all stripes, none of these top the list of threats to government cyber security. According to federal agency IT workers themselves, the single greatest threat to the cyber security of government systems is… the government itself. Particularly concerning, according to surveys, are “negligent insiders,” those who fail to take adequate precautions and exercise best practices.
Why the government struggles with cyber security
Part of the issue is the fact that government agencies have trouble attracting IT professionals that are up to date on current cyber security practices—and when they do, they have difficulty keeping them. The private sector offers far more to IT professionals, and has just as great a demand for them.
A secondary issue is the slow speed of the legislature. In order to address what have been described as “persistent weaknesses” in government cyber security practices. Those in the legislature need not only, in many cases, write up to date cyber security legislation, but must be educated as to what that entails to begin with.
Cyber security of the people, by the people, for the… government?
Another serious issue in terms of both government cyber security as well as legislation addressing the same is the growing conflict between government practices and the right to privacy. A recent clash between Apple and the FBI illustrates this disparity well. The FBI has requested that Apple provide the agency with the means to breach the security of their popular iPhone smart phones; Apple is refusing on several grounds.
While the constitutionality of the issue is still up in the air, perhaps a more immediate concern might be putting the cyber security of the people in the hands of a government that is arguably unable to secure its own cyber resources.