Cyber Researchers Don’t Think Feds or Congress Can Protect Against Cyberattacks

Only 15 percent of cyber researchers think the U.S. can defend against a critical infrastructure cyberattack, according to a survey.

The federal government doesn’t understand cybersecurity and won’t be able to respond to a digital disaster such as a destructive hack aimed at the energy or financial sector, according to a survey of cybersecurity researchers released Tuesday.

Only 13 percent of researchers “believe that Congress and the White House understand cyber threats and will take steps for future defenses,” according to the poll of attendees at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference.

Only 15 percent of the researchers believe the U.S. government and private industry are prepared to respond to a major breach of critical infrastructure.

When asked about the greatest cyber threats to critical infrastructure, 43 percent of researchers cited a cyberattack by another nation, while 16 percent cited a lack of coordination between government and industry.

Black Hat, which is held annually in Las Vegas, is among the most prominent cybersecurity conferences and the one most directly aimed at hackers and researchers rather than business or government.

Respondents to the survey were 315 information security professionals who attended Black Hat’s 2017 conference or planned to attend in 2018. The majority of respondents work for large companies, the report states.

Among the report’s other conclusions:

  • 71 percent of respondents believe recent cyber activity from the U.S.’s traditional cyber adversaries, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, “has made U.S. enterprise data less secure.”
  • 52 percent believe that “Russian cyber initiatives made a significant impact on the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
  • 69 percent “believe that a successful cyberattack on U.S critical infrastructure will occur in the next two years.”
  • Just 16 percent approve of President Donald Trump’s performance so far while 53 percent disapprove. (The question was not limited to cyber issues.)
  • 47 percent agree with the statement “the shortage of women and minorities in the information security profession is a concern to me,” while 22 percent disagree and 31 percent are neutral.