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Security Threats on Government Networks Go Unidentified for Average of 16 Days: Survey

Sixteen days might as well be a lifetime when it comes to the length of time an infection persists on a network.

Sixteen days might as well be a lifetime when it comes to the length of time an infection persists on a network.

But according to a study from MeriTalk, that is how long cyber-threats are estimated to remain on government networks before they are detected. The study, entitled ‘Go Big Security’, surveyed 302 government cybersecurity professionals from state, local and federal agencies. According to the report, government agencies are collecting more security data than ever but are struggling to analyze it. Sixty-eight percent said they are overwhelmed by the volume of security data they are receiving, while 78 percent said that at least some of their security data goes unanalyzed due to a lack of time and or skill from their team.

In a recent report from Proofpoint, roughly 30 percent of the large and midsized organizations surveyed said it would take days or weeks for them to detect a breach. According to the survey, 24 percent felt they could detect a breach within minutes or seconds, while 37 percent believe they could detect a breach within hours. Nine percent weren’t sure how long it would take, and one percent said they would not be able to detect it within weeks and it would take even longer.

In the MeriTalk study, 70 percent of IT professionals said their organizations can monitor streams of data in real-time. Despite this, nine out of 10 said they could not tell a “complete story” with the cybersecurity data they receive. As a result, 76 percent of respondents said their security team operates reactively as opposed to proactively.

“Government organizations have access to a wealth of cyber threat information,” said Kevin Davis, area vice president for the public sector at Splunk, in a statement. “The challenge is managing that data and connecting the dots in real time. That’s how we get immediate insight into threats. Agencies need to detect threats faster and start to predict when and how they will occur.”

Splunk sponsored the survey. According to the study, 86 percent said big data analytics will improve security efforts, though only 28 percent are fully leveraging big data for security today. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they are investing in upgrading their existing technologies. Fifty-one percent said they are deploying network analysis and visibility solutions.

“Moving from compliance to risk management is a mindset shift,” said Steve O’Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk, in a statement. “Agencies need to think about big security alongside big data.”

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