Federal investment in cybersecurity will reach $13.3 billion by 2015, driven by a 445% increase in security incidents over the last four years and the shortage of qualified security professionals, according to a report released this week.
The size of the investment represents an annual increase of 9.1% over the next five years, according to the Federal Information Security Market, 2010-2015 report by Input. The firm based the report on its own analytics, interviews with federal IT professionals and the government's own spending forecasts, it said.
Cybersecurity has been a key goal of the Obama administration, which has launched an agency-wide effort -- led by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and National Security Agency -- to protect federal networks, as well as U.S. critical infrastructure, from cyber attacks.
Input's report supports the administration's attention to cybersecurity. The firm found that IT security represents about 15% of agency IT budgets and has produced the largest staffing increases of all IT positions in the last one to two years.
However, lack of qualified security professionals to fill positions needed to boost cybersecurity is both a key obstacle to federal cybersecurity efforts and also driving investment in the space, according to the report.
Because the government itself doesn't have the expert personnel it needs to implement security in complex IT environments like those of federal agencies, it will have to invest in training its own staff or contract work out to qualified professionals, according to Input. This represents an opportunity for federal contractors to get in on the action.
There is already evidence of the government's investment in the latter; two major federal contractors -- ManTech and BAE -- recently won significant cybersecurity contracts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Increasingly relying on contractors for cybersecurity work has some risks, however, according to Input. The firm questions whether federal IT officials can write comprehensive information security contract requirements or even know exactly what they need from cybersecurity specialists.
However, the federal government has no choice but to invest in cybersecurity, as threats continue to rise and pose significant risks to the business of the federal government, according to Input.
The firm cited a variety of misfortunes -- some of which have already affected the government -- that could result from a lack of proper cybersecurity. They include theft resulting in the loss of federal resources and payments; the release of sensitive or classified government information; the disruption of critical information; and the undermining of agency missions.