3/3/2008
09:19 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary

Good News: Federal Agency IT Security Improving

Usually the government releases news it wants to bury over the weekend. This Saturday, however, the Office of Management and Budget released a report stating that, overall, federal IT security is improving.



Usually the government releases news it wants to bury over the weekend. This Saturday, however, the Office of Management and Budget released a report stating that, overall, federal IT security is improving.According to the OMB report, available here, the federal government generally did a better job at its efforts to secure IT systems than in years past. Such as the conclusion that the Inspectors General at 22 of the 25 major agencies report that 80%, or more, of their systems, have been inventoried. (That's a good step, since you really can't secure what you don't know that you own or operate ... ).

When compared with the initial 2002 statistics, the federal government has come a long way. For instance, 92% of systems have been properly certified and accredited, compared with only 42% in 2002. And 86% of agencies have tested their contingency plan, while 95% have tested their security controls. Those figures where a dismal 35% and 60%, respectively, in 2002.

According to the report, a number of larger agencies made significant gains, including NASA and the departments of State, Treasury, and Defense.

The report also states that these federal agencies spent $5.9 billion, or 9.2% of their total IT budget, on IT security.

Yet, the number of security incidents reported to the US-CERT has skyrocketed. In 2007, the federal agencies reported 12,986 security incidents, compared with 5,146 incidents in 2006, and 3,569 in 2005.

While it may be counterintuitive, I regard the dramatic rise in reported incidents as a good indicator. At least the agencies have a greater awareness of the systems under their control, which provides for better visibility into potentially malicious activity.

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