Botnets, spyware top worry list for federal IT security

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Botnets and spyware top the list of security worries for federal technologies, according to a survey of 200 federal information technology employees from Cisco Systems.

The study, reviewed today at the FOSE Conference and Exposition in Washington, found that 56 percent of those surveyed 'were kept up at night' worrying about botnets and spyware.

Botnets'networks of compromised machines under the control of a single evil overlord'have grown into a significant problem over the past year, as hacking has moved from a vanity hobby to profit-driven organized crime.

Spyware secretly gathers information about a user while he/she navigates the Internet. Spyware can gather information about e-mail addresses, passwords and credit card numbers.

According to the September 2007 survey, 55 percent of respondents reported security breaches as the second top worry for federal IT security; inadequately trained employees was next with 53 percent; employee data loss came in fourth with 51 percent and citizen data loss was fifth at 50 percent.

Government agencies can leverage existing infrastructure to minimize exposure to bots and spyware, said David Graziano, regional manager for security at Cisco. Security features need to be built into an agency's architecture: Inbound and outbound filtering, host-based intrusion protection, anomaly monitoring and policy enforcement should all be part of a federal security technology initiative, he said.

FOSE is run by the 1105 Government Information Group, which also owns Government Computer News.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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