Cybersecurity concerns are no longer just for large retailers, state and local governments are the latest victims in these attacks. A new survey of government security professionals indicates their concern is warranted. MeriTalk, Inc., a company specializing in IT issues for governments, released a survey of 302 security professionals from Federal, state and local governments. The purpose of the survey was to measure “the current state of cybersecurity” and to “empower risk management and improve security outcomes.” The results provide a glimpse into the various cybersecurity issues facing Federal, state and local governments.

One interesting aspect of this survey is that Federal government respondents had different concerns than their counterparts in state and local governments. For example, the survey concluded that “Federal agencies are more likely to struggle with data volume, while state and local organizations are more likely to face a resources gap.” Specifically, MeriTalk found that:

  • 41% of Federal respondents believed they lacked skilled personnel for cybersecurity compared to 54% of state and local respondents.
  • 29% of Federal respondents stated they would not be able to justify the expense of cybersecurity versus 46% of state and local respondents.

The survey also found governments of all sizes face a number of similar issues. The respondents estimated cyber threats were on their networks for an average of 16 days before the threats were identified. Additionally, 76% of the respondents reported that their security teams were “often reactive instead of proactive.” The survey found that “9 out of 10 cyber pros say they cannot tell a ‘complete story’ with cybersecurity data.” Another point that Federal and state/local governments could completely agree upon was that both believe they have a “lack of management support” (Federal 40% and state/local 41%) to properly address cyber security.

MeriTalk’s survey demonstrates that regardless of the cause of their cybersecurity issues (resource gap or data volume), the result is the same for all governments – Cybersecurity is a major threat. This survey also shows there are a number of variables to account for when devising a strategy to protect against these threats.

These issues and more will be addressed in-depth at the Governing With Confidence 2015 workshop, hosted by Tressler’s Government Law Group, in Chicago on May 28, 2015. For more information on this complimentary workshop, please contact Liz Ashline at