Compliance taking over IT security chiefs’ schedules

Agency chief information security officers are spending more time complying with laws governing the safekeeping of computer and network systems, according to a survey.

With the burden of complying with the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act growing, CISOs are spending an average of 3.75 hours per day on FISMA, a law written to bolster agencies' computer and network security. Last year, the survey found that CISOs spent an average of 3.06 hours on FISMA compliance.

Intelligent Decisions Inc., a technology firm based in Ashburn, Va., commissioned the 21-question survey, which was conducted through online and telephone interviews with 29 top government security officials from both large and small civilian and Defense Department agencies.

This was the second CISO survey that Intelligent Decisions conducted. The first survey found that agencies with smaller information technology budgets were spending far more time on FISMA compliance than agencies with large budgets. Smaller agencies were those with less than $1 million in annual IT expenditures.

The 2005 survey found that gap shrinking, with CISOs with smaller budgets spending between 51 percent and 59 percent of their time complying with FISMA and CISOs at larger agencies spending between 38 percent and 40 percent of their time on compliance.

"You will still see that a majority of their time is managing that compliance reporting," said Roy Stephan, Intelligent Decisions' cybersecurity director. "We've seen them come back into alignment, where larger agencies and smaller agencies are spending about the same amount of time on compliance."

According to the survey, about three-quarters of a CISO's typical day is spent on administrative tasks, which is down by about 33 percent from 2004. Strategic management tasks take up the other quarter. Intelligent Decisions speculates that IT security is becoming less like a technology program and more of a policy and process challenge for managers.

The top trends identified by the survey were the increase of wireless and mobile devices, the rise of single sign-on and multifactor authentication, and the convergence of database and network security. Other trends included the convergence of physical security and cybersecurity, the growing interest in biometric systems, outsourcing of security functions to the private sector, and an increase in public-private partnerships.

CISOs' top three concerns, according to the survey, were network security, system and application maintenance, and fulfilling FISMA requirements.

Basing its information on a Government Accountability Office report on wireless security released earlier this year, the survey found that chief among CISOs' concerns were unauthorized wireless access points and wireless devices.

Of those surveyed, 46 percent said their agency used a wireless network, but there was inconsistent implementation among agencies of basic wireless security controls.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.