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Data and Predictive Analytics Help Feds Make Better Decisions

Agencies are using troves of data and powerful analytics tools to predict when cyberattacks might occur.

Think about the most mundane parts of your day: what you ate, your commute to work, what errands you ran. Most of us choose to believe we are unique, making our day-to-day decisions free from the specter of influence.

But technology is increasingly proving exactly how predictable we are. The likelihood of certain events (how often we check our phones, when we read email, when we grab lunch) is overwhelming.

From a security standpoint, the same is true. CIOs want to know the most likely times they’ll face an attack or how likely an employee is to use a weak password or click on a link to a phishing scam.

Government agencies are utilizing this trove of data in new and innovative ways. They’re using it to help predict when a cyberattack might occur, and they’re tracking and detecting insider threats.

They’re also asking tough questions, such as how much data is too much for one user to transfer without being suspicious? How can agencies protect their privacy and ensure they’re not giving away a compelling, piecemeal portrait of a citizen? How can data help point to fraud and save taxpayer dollars?

To read more about how agencies are using this technology, "The Tech HHS, SEC, SSA and Other Agencies Use to Ferret Out Cheaters and Crooks." The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is even experimenting with sentiment analysis to evaluate how workers are feeling each day.

Predictive Analytics Is Getting Better All the Time

What is often overlooked in this data analysis is that sometimes the answers are wrong. The information includes probabilities and likelihoods, not ironclad guarantees of what may happen.

But make no mistake, the answers mark progress. Each best guess is based on more data than the last. Each year, each budget cycle, each semiannual report, the margin between likelihoods and what happens gets smaller.

For government, that means data moves agency leaders a little bit closer to the ideal IT solution to fix their problems, be it security or ­network performance. Each of these steps reduces the likelihood of a ­successful attack or defrauding the government.

CIOs don’t have a panacea to turn to for all of their IT struggles. But by using the information and tools they have at their disposal more effectively, they can make it increasingly difficult for their adversaries to wreak havoc.

May 15 2017