What You Need to Know About Government Cybersecurity

More than one-third of cyberattacks between October 2014 and October 2015 targeted the government, according to the 2016 RiskMap Report released by global risk consultancy firm Control Risks. These targeted cyberattacks are prevalent, making cybersecurity a key issue for the nation’s government. Delve into what you need to know about government cybersecurity.

Government Cybersecurity Strengths

America has benefited from a presidential administration that recognizes the challenges cybersecurity presents, according to The White House Office of the Press Secretary in a February 2016 Cybersecurity National Action Plan fact sheet. In December 2015, the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 passed into law. This act provided many tools intended to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity; private companies can now more easily share cyber threat details with the government and one another, according to the fact sheet.

Government Cybersecurity Weaknesses

In 2015, the Identity Theft Resource Center analyzed more than 780 data breaches in high-risk sectors, including the government. According to Noah Gamer, writing for security software firm Trend Micro, this research found unintended exposure was the leading cause of government-related data breaches, followed by lost portable devices. Both problems point to the need for reducing the number of internal mistakes.

In addition, many government employees don’t always follow best cybersecurity practices. John K. Higgins of TechNewsWorld cited a 2015 Lookout study which found that “85 percent admit to risky activities like downloading or reading work-related documents or email, sending work documents to personal accounts, and storing work on personal file-sharing apps.” Almost 40 percent of the federal employees surveyed said they had risked government security to use their personal mobile devices at work.

Office of Personnel Management Breach Shows Government Failings

A U.S. Office of Personnel Management cybersecurity breach reported during the summer of 2015 was the largest U.S. data breach to date, according to SecurityScorecard. As a result of the breach, the Social Security numbers and addresses of more than 21 million current and former government employees and the fingerprints of about 5.6 million Americans were stolen. Andrea Peterson of The Washington Post notes the fingerprint thefts are particularly troubling as, unlike passwords and Social Security numbers, fingerprints are permanent and not replaceable.

In addition, government representatives underestimated the number of stolen fingerprints, originally declaring only 1.1 million were stolen, Peterson says. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the Center for Democracy & Technology’s chief technologist, was surprised at the lack of structures to accurately determine the number of compromised fingerprints from the start, Peterson notes.

Working With the Government to Improve Cybersecurity

Burning Glass Technology’s 2015 report of cybersecurity jobs found the highest concentration are in the government and defense sectors. Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado have the most governmental cybersecurity jobs. According to USAJobs, deputy CIO for cybersecurity, supervisory information technology specialist, and assistant commander for Navy cyber implementation are among the varied roles requiring cybersecurity knowledge. While you may secure one of these roles with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, this U.S. government jobs website states most occupations require at least a master’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field.

If you’re concerned about government security, you may consider studying for your degree in cybersecurity. Maryville University offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in cybersecurity, which offer the practical skills and knowledge needed to pursue cybersecurity careers in the U.S. government.



White House – FACT SHEET: Cybersecurity National Action Plan

Trend Micro – The most prominent cyber threats faced by high-target industries

Tech News World – Surveys Reveal Lax Mobile Security Among Federal Workers


Washington Post – OPM says 5.6 million fingerprints stolen in cyberattack, five times as many as previously thought

Burning Glass – Job Market Intelligence: Cybersecurity Jobs, 2015

USA Jobs

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Working for the federal government: Part 1

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