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GCN : June 2013
12 GCN JUNE 2013 • GCN.COM [BrieFing] Many state and local networks and IT systems are unprepared for cyberat- tacks, as the CIOs overseeing them struggle to make do with strained bud- gets and shrinking staffs. The results of a recent survey by Consero of chief information of cers of states, counties, cities and towns are hardly surprising, but hardly comforting, either. "I wasn't shocked by anything, but I was disturbed by the cybersecurity numbers," said Paul Mandell, CEO of the company, which took the survey for public IT of cials in February. "The num- bers were troubling." The survey contains results from only 36 of cials, and Mandell acknowledges that they are anecdotal rather than statistically signi cant. But the respon- dents represent a cross section of state and local government, with CIOs from states including Oklahoma and Idaho; counties from Riverside Co., Calif., to Prince William, Va.; cities from San Diego to Rochester, N.Y.; and agen- cies from the Wyoming DOT to the Fire Department of New York. "There was a quite a bit of frustration and concern about the need to do what had to be done and the inability to get the resources they need," Mandell said. That frustration is re ected in the CIO's strategic planning goals. Fifty- ve percent of respondents said their great- est impediment to doing their jobs is a lack of nancial resources, and the top priority for 41 percent was simply work- ing within budgetary constraints. As a result of these pressures, 44 percent said that their IT infrastructure is not adequately prepared for cyber at- tacks, and 28 percent said they had ex- perienced a security breach in the last 12 months. It is tempting to say that the 56 percent who feel they are adequately protected and the 72 percent who have not been attacked are being overly op- timistic. With no uniform requirements for state and local government to report breaches, it is impossible to say what the actual level of malicious activity in their systems is. The of cials are looking for more than a sympathetic ear to share troubles, Mandell said. They're looking for strate- gies to improve their lot. "The focus is on communication," he said; "bridging the gap between their needs and the level of knowledge in those making budgetary decisions." One bright spot in the survey is that the lines of communication are open. State and local CIOs report to a variety of of cials, including chief nancial of cers, boards of commissioners and city managers, but 86 percent of them felt that they had suf cient access to executive leadership. • CIOs: State and local networks under-defended BY RUTRELL YASIN Small town threat indicators Does every constituent in your community have access to high speed Internet? Is your infrastructure su ciently prepared for cyber attacks? Has your organization experienced a data security breach over the last 12 months? YES 31% NO 69% NO 44% YES 56% NO 72% YES 28% Source: Consero LLC