Flash Poll Series: Enterprise Security

FINDING #1:

Over 30 percent of government employees lack confidence in their organization’s fraud, waste, and abuse capabilities

Last June, a joint initiative led by the Department of Justice and Health and Human Services departments resulted in the largest fraud takedown in Medicare history. Altogether, charges were leveled against 301 individuals accused of perpetuating health care fraud worth more than $900 million. The secret to the Medicare Fraud Strike Force’s success? Data. By proactively utilizing predictive analytics and collective intelligence, the task force was able to successfully unearth cases of fraudulent billing, false statements, bribery, money laundering, and more. The whole affair is a lesson in the disastrous impact of unchecked fraud, waste, and abuse (FWA); at the same time, it serves as an example of government at its finest — combining human ingenuity and state-of-the-art technologies to make life a little better for citizens.

To learn more about the current state of FWA detection in the public sector, Cloudera commissioned a Government Business Council (GBC) poll in March 2017 on the following question:

How confident are you in your organization's ability to address fraud, waste, and abuse?

The poll received responses from 337 federal, state, and local employees. A substantial portion feel that their organization’s FWA efforts have room for improvement: 31% of respondents are not very or not at all confident in their organization’s ability to address FWA, 20% are neutral, and 50% are confident or very confident.

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) report estimates that improper payments across the federal government added up to a total of $136.7 billion. Such costs are increasingly unaffordable in light of the public sector’s mandate to enhance operation effectiveness and bolster customer engagement. By implementing a data-driven FWA strategy, organizations can achieve fast, early detection of suspicious activity; improve transparency and accountability; reduce losses; and more successfully achieve their chief objective: making life a little better for the citizens they serve.

FINDING #2:

When it comes to harnessing big data/analytics, government has room to grow

By the year 2020, humanity is expected to generate 44 zettabytes of data per year — an astounding projection considering that, until 2013, we had generated a total of 2.7 zettabytes. We’re living in a hyperconnected age built on 1s and 0s, and government organizations are finding themselves in a sea of unstructured data — the question is, are they sinking or swimming?

To answer this question, Cloudera and GBC released a flash poll in March 2017:

In your opinion, how effectively is your organization leveraging big data/analytics to support decision-making?

The poll received responses from 336 government employees. According to them, many organizations have yet to unpack the inherent potential of data: 35% feel that their organization leverages big data/analytics not very or not at all effectively, 31% are neutral, and 35% feel that their agency leverages analytics effectively or very effectively.

A glut of unfiltered data is more of a handicap than an asset, and in order to derive actionable insights, it is critical that government organizations craft and communicate a comprehensive data strategy — one that outlines both technical objectives and change management processes. The public sector should also implement streamlined data governance capabilities that can support and aggregate growing volumes of diverse data: comprehensive, secure access protocols are crucial toward enabling organizations to simultaneously manage risk and expand availability of relevant data sets. Toward this end, organizations might consider an open source approach — community development allows for faster platform innovation as well as decreased risk of vendor lock-in.

All of this invites a fundamental shift in how we think about data. It’s time for government to take control of its data, to consider the potential of analytics with an open mind, and to ultimately sharpen this resource into one of the most powerful, essential tools of the twenty-first century.

FINDING #3:

Over a quarter of government employees lack confidence in their organization’s cybersecurity capabilities

The federal government experienced more than 30,000 data security incidents in 2016, 16 of which were categorized as major incidents that needed to be reported to Congress. Faced with a rapidly evolving threat environment, the public sector is racing to implement proactive measures for identifying and combating cyber breaches. In order to assess their progress, Cloudera and GBC released a March 2017 flash poll on the following question:

How confident are you in your organization's ability to detect external and internal cyber threats?

337 respondents representing federal, state, and local organizations took the poll. The results indicate that gaps continue to exist in government cybersecurity: 26% of respondents are not very or not at all confident, 24% are neutral, and 50% are confident or very confident.

Despite growing awareness of the need for stronger defense processes, organizations remain susceptible to both external and internal threats. In the months and years ahead, the public sector must seek to achieve complete enterprise visibility: by maintaining situational oversight of users, endpoints, and networks, organizations can be empowered to track and address anomalous activity in real time. Combining 360-degree visibility with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other emerging technologies can allow organizations to detect advanced, persistent threats. With comprehensive visibility, organizations can move quickly to contain damage and restore services by providing relevant parties with access to complete contextual data for faster response.

If implemented strategically, these processes can pave the way for an unprecedented degree of security. As noted by former U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, “Cyber threats cannot be eliminated entirely, but they can be managed much more effectively. And we can best do this by aligning and focusing our efforts, by properly funding necessary cyber investments, by building strong partnerships across government and industry, and by drawing on the best ideas and talent from across the country to tackle this quintessential problem of the 21st century.”

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