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10/25/2012
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Cash-Strapped States Under Siege

New survey of state government agency CISOs finds cost of data breaches range from $1 million to $5 million in some states

Most state chief information security officers say that a lack of funding is the biggest challenge in their cybersecurity efforts, and 70 percent of state CISOs have reported a data breach this year.

Only 14 percent say they saw a budget increase between 2010 and 2011, according to a new story by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and Deloitte & Touche LLP. And 44 percent say their budgets didn't budge, while 34 percent say their budgets were reduced. Cybersecurity accounts for about 1 to 2 percent of the overall IT budget in state agencies.

Not surprisingly, there's a lack of confidence among most state CISOs in their ability to protect their data from outside attacks, with just 24 percent saying they are very confident. About one-third say their staffers have the necessary cybersecurity skills and knowledge, and their teams are small: Half of them have a team of anywhere from one to five security staffers.

Some 82 percent of the state CISOs point to phishing and pharming as the top threats to their agencies, a threat they say will continue in 2013, followed by social engineering, increasingly sophisticated malware threats, and mobile devices.

"The biennial Deloitte-NASCIO CISO Cybersecurity survey has become a key element in NASCIO’s advocacy focused on improving states IT security programs," said Doug Robinson, NASCIO Executive Director. "Particularly in a time of aggressive threats, tight budgets and gaps in compliance, it's critical that CIOs and CISOs work collaboratively with state policy-makers and agency leadership in an effort to reduce risks and better protect citizen data."

Collaboration was one of the main recommendations in the study for state CISOs -- specifically, that they partner with other key players in the agency, including policy-makers and agency officials in a team effort for protecting their citizens' data.

"There’s never been a better opportunity for CISOs to partner with business stakeholders — and advocate jointly for increases in cybersecurity budgets through well-articulated strategies, measures, and outcomes," said Srini Subramanian, principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP and leader of its security and privacy practice to state governments.

Budget constraints have led to more outsourcing to cloud providers or other service providers of the state agency's email, data storage, and disaster recovery services, for instance. But CISOs are lukewarm about their trust in the third-party provider's security: Only 4 percent are very confident, with 74 percent "somewhat confident" and 18 percent "not very confident."

Meanwhile, for some states, the cost of data breaches range from $1 million to $5 million, according to the study.

The full 2012 Deloitte-National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Cybersecurity Study is available here for download (PDF).

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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