Survey: Government Agencies Guilty of Sloppy File Transfer Methods

Paul Lilly

Are you under the impression that federal data is pretty much secure? Think again, suggests a new survey by MeriTalk in which it was discovered that employees at many U.S. government agencies are using insecure methods to transfer data. MeriTalk pinged some 200 federal IT and information security professionals and here's what they found:

  • 66 percent use physical media (tapes, CDs, DVDs, USB drives, etc)
  • 60 percent use File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • 52 percent email work files through personal email accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, etc)

According to the survey's authors, sending unencrypted data over FTP or personal email, or putting it on physical media presents an alarming problem for data security. Taher Elgamal, CSO at Axway and inventor of the Elgamal Cryptosystem agrees.

"What surprise me is [the results] don't surprise me at all," Elgamal said. "The vast majority of people are actually good people. An employee, if you tell them to do something, is just going to get it done. If you don't provide them the right tools, they're still going to get it done."

The survey also found that about 71 percent of respondents admitted to being concerned with the security of file transfers in the U.S. government, but more than half said they don't actively monitor FTP use.

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