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Thales Data Threat Report: 57% of Government Agencies Breached in 2017


U.S. federal agencies are experiencing a "perfect storm" around data that puts over 330 million citizens in danger, according to a survey of more than 1,200 senior security executives conducted by cybersecurity and defense solutions provider Thales and analyst firm 451 Research.

Key findings from the "2018 Thales Data Threat Report: Federal Government Edition" included:

  • 71 percent of U.S. federal agencies have experienced a data breach.
  • 57 percent have been breached in the past year.
  • 48 percent use more than 100 software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.
  • 45 percent leverage five or more infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers.

Government agencies are targeted by cybercriminals seeking citizens' private data and nation-state hackers with their own agendas, Thales stated. Also, they frequently deal with a lack of funding and staffing and antiquated systems that create a challenging threat environment.

Fortunately, government agencies look poised to increase their IT security spending in the future. Ninety-three percent of survey respondents reported their agencies will increase IT security spending, Thales said, and 73 percent said their IT security spending will be "much higher."

Most Federal Agency IT Security Pros Prioritize Encryption Technologies

Eighty-nine percent of federal agency IT security professionals said their organizations are implementing or plan to implement data masking technologies this year, according to Thales. Meanwhile, 88 percent are using or intend to use database and file encryption technologies, 84 percent are using or intend to use encryption in the cloud and 77 percent are using or intend to use application layer encryption.

Encryption also is a top choice among tools that federal agency IT security professionals leverage to increase usage of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cloud, big data and containers, Thales stated.

Forty-two percent of survey respondents indicated encryption was the top tool needed for IoT adoption, Thales pointed out. Furthermore, 34 percent named encryption as the top tool for cloud use, 34 percent said it was the top tool for big data adoption and 25 percent noted encryption drives container usage.

How Does Encryption Help Government Agencies Address Cyber Threats?

Encryption technologies protect data at rest, in motion and in use, Thales stated. They secure data to meet compliance requirements, best practices and privacy regulations, which make the technologies exceedingly valuable to government agencies.

In addition, encryption offers the only tool set that ensures the safety and control of data in traditional data centers and data used in conjunction with digital technologies, Thales said. It also drives digital transformation, Thales indicated, and helps government agencies streamline their data security efforts across cloud, data center and on-premises environments.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.