Government Sector Insights: State of Privacy and Security Awareness

Row of columns in black and white

Citizens are increasingly concerned about the sensitive data held and used by government entities, fueled partly by stories of cyberespionage, rumors of voter fraud, and social media’s impact on U.S. elections. It’s not all speculation: in the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), public administration entities reported that cyberespionage accounted for a quarter of breaches in the last year (with 96% of those cyber-espionage attacks executed via phishing). Of the data comprised in these breaches, 41% was personal information.

But with all the focus on state-affiliated actors and cybercriminals, one major hole is being overlooked: employees. Privileged misuse and miscellaneous errors by insiders account for a third of breaches, according to the DBIR. It makes us wonder: when was the last time these government agencies deployed a refresher training course on the appropriate use of social media, proper data handling, or using a VPN?

We gauged the privacy and security awareness of employees in government by surveying 1,016 U.S.-based employees who work for local, state, and federal government entities. We then compared the results against a broader sample of employed U.S. adults that took the same survey, and used our (rather alarming) results to share this data in an easy-to-read infographic.

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