Cyberattack Looming, Federal IT Pros Believe

More than half of federal IT professionals surveyed believe the potential is "high" for a cyberattack against critical IT infrastructure in the next year.
"Compliance for the sake of compliance is not going to be effective," Brice said. Lumension concluded from the responses to the survey that rather than merely meeting compliance requirements to pass regular audits, the government needs to shift to a more proactive compliance model that continuously monitors networks for attacks, he said.

There was some good news in the survey, however. Even if compliance isn't doing the job it's completely intended to do, the majority of respondents think it has made networks more secure than a year ago.

Thirty-eight percent of the respondents said the impact of compliance regulations has enabled them to secure more funding and personnel for their departments, while 32 percent said the impact of compliance regulations has allowed them to make additional technology purchases.

The Obama administration is well aware of the growing cybersecurity threat in the U.S. and has been busy trying to address the issue.

The Senate is currently considering broad cybersecurity legislation that would help foster collaboration between the federal government and the private-sector companies that own critical infrastructure, while the House of Representatives recently passed a cybersecurity bill of its own.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security also is engaged in ongoing efforts to assess the cybersecurity threat and help private-sector infrastructure owners have access to important intelligence information government agencies collect to be better prepared against threats.

Indeed, a better partnership between the government and the private sector is necessary to better protect the U.S. against cyberattacks, Brice said.

"We need to have a government-private partnership that unlike other government-private partnerships has to be non-toxic, collaborative and productive," he said.