By Daniel Pulliam
dpulliam at govexec.com
August 30, 2005
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
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
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
CISOs' top three concerns, according to the survey, were network
security, system and application maintenance, and fulfilling FISMA
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.
Sept 16-18th, 2005
San Diego, California