What Are Federal Fears About Ransomware?

So far, news coverage of ransomware has typically focused on state and local incidents. But that doesn’t mean federal agencies shouldn’t be worried. On the contrary, ransomware’s risk to national security makes it even more important of a topic for the federal government.

Veritas’ recent survey with Scoop News Group found that ransomware has struck a nerve with federal and state workers. When asked about their biggest cybersecurity concerns, 45% of respondents chose ransomware.

Federal respondents also listed several ways ransomware attacks would most impact their missions. The top three were:

  • The risk to national security — 45% said they’re concerned about problems such as hostile foreign nations stealing U.S. data
  • Employee productivity loss — 45% said they’re worried about issues such as their agencies losing work hours addressing ransomware
  • Prolonged loss of services — 39% said they’re troubled by obstacles such as their services temporarily stopping

Elsewhere, federal employees said their agencies would struggle to recover from ransomware. Only 34% said their agencies could fully recover from ransomware or other malicious software within 12 hours. Another 20% said their agencies would need over a day, suggesting many agencies aren’t ready to recover from ransomware.

If ransomware is such a hazard, why aren’t more agencies ready for it? Survey participants identified obstacles keeping their agency from a ransomware response plan. The top three were:

  • The evolving sophistication of attacks — 57% said ransomware keeps changing
  • The growing proliferation of attacks — 49% said ransomware attacks are becoming more common
  • Poor user awareness — 44% said their users aren’t well-informed about ransomware

Consequently, guarding against ransomware requires agencies to overcome a complicated mix of internal and external challenges.

This article is part of a GovLoop Academy course, “Federal Ransomware: A Rising Threat,” created in partnership with ThunderCat Technology and Veritas. Access the full course here.

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