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Tripwire and the Government Technology Research Alliance (GTRA), have released the results of a survey which found that 43 percent of Federal IT security and compliance employees consider poor governance and the dysfunctional Congress “the biggest security threat we face.

The jointly sponsored online survey evaluated the attitudes and responses of 111 security and compliance professionals from U.S. government agencies and contractors.

“Cybersecurity continues to be one of the top priorities of senior executives in the federal government,” said Ron Ross, fellow at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“Studies, such as this one, bring together important data points that help decision makers assess trends and take part in an ongoing dialog that will help us craft effective solutions to our difficult and challenging cybersecurity problems.”

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 60 percent believe the new NIST framework will improve security.
  • 55 percent believe government IT security has improved due to the administration’s policies.
  • 46 percent say they have seen reductions in risk due to continuous monitoring efforts.

“While these findings show that we have made some progress on federal cybersecurity, we still have a long way to go,” said Parham Eftekhari, executive vice president of research and co-founder of GTRA.

“Our hope is that by partnering with federal agency CIOs and industry thought leaders like Tripwire, we can generate thought-provoking research that will help spur dialog and ultimately increase the rate of change.”

Additional key findings:

  • 45 percent of respondents believe funding is the greatest challenge their agency faces in successfully implementing cybersecurity programs; only 37 percent believe they have adequate resources to properly implement policy; and when asked what federal security leaders should do to connect security to the agency mission, the second-most popular response was “more funding.”
  • While 47 percent of GTRA members believe their agency cares more about compliance regulations than improving security, 65 percent still believe their agency follows industry standards and best practices.

Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer for Tripwire, said “it is encouraging that government security and compliance professionals are seeing benefits from continuous monitoring and that they are optimistic about future improvements through the new NIST framework. However, the survey results highlight the fact that resource constraints are a significant inhibitor to stronger security.”

“Unfortunately, it seems that agencies still fear the auditor more than the adversary. Their biggest concern is becoming compliant, and while compliance can help improve security, it is not the most significant threat to achieving the mission for most organizations.”

GTRA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and success of the government IT community today announced the results of a U.S. government cybersecurity survey.

The complete survey is available for download at and will be discussed in detail at GTRA’s upcoming council meeting, which will be held June 22 – 24, 2014, at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia.