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US government concerned about inside threat from mobile phone users

14/07/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


A new publication has reported that the government in the United States is increasingly concerned about potential cyberthreats from inside agencies due to mobile phone use. With smartphones being used by millions of people around the world, this threat potential could affect many governments and companies and, therefore, is something to take note of.

Entitled Cybersecurity in the Federal Government, management software company SolarWinds cited that employees can be the source of potential insider threats and more needs to be done to address the issue. The report tackles the increasing number of challengers that IT professionals face when it comes to protecting organisations not only from external security threats but also internal ones.

One of the areas identified in the paper as a challenge is the impact of mobile devices; in fact, mobile technology was identified by 56% of the survey respondents as a major problem when it comes to trying to stop accidental cyberthreats and breaches. 44% of the respondents also mentioned it as an obstacle in trying to stop malicious threats. Whilst just 29% identified employee or contractor-owned mobile devices as a problem, one-third said that government-owned gadgets that hold agency data are at risk.

SolarWinds chief information officer Joel Dolisy said: “This shift in technology at work will likely contribute to the increased risk from insiders.” He added that because external threats often carry more risk, internal threats are not afforded the same resources and time required to build sufficient security procedures.

The primary security threats identified by respondents were the general hacking community, with 46%, and foreign governments, with 38%. Hacktivists were also mentioned by 30% of the survey participants.

The report came after the director of operations at the US Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) suggested that whilst the department had put itself in a strong position to defend from external threats, accidental or malicious breaches from inside had caused more issues. “Internal threats will continue to exist as long as agencies continue to employ people, so agencies need to make at least an equal investment in addressing insider threats,” the report stated.

With many companies around the world on high alert for potential threats, it is important to bear in mind that problems may come from within and not always an external source. It is crucial, therefore, to give some thought to how internal security can be addressed so that even accidental breaches do not occur and cause ongoing damage to a firm’s operations and reputation.

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