Federal agencies can save more than $5 billion annually and act faster by improving threat monitoring, correlation and automation of protections, according to a new report from MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT.

The study, underwritten by security vendor Palo Alto Networks, shows that agencies can save up to 27% of their cyber security budget and address threats faster by improving how they address threats. The report is based on an online survey of 150 federal employees who work with their security operations team, conducted in September 2016.

Among the key findings are that only 61% of federal entities are automatically distributing information about malicious behaviors across different enforcement points in their organization. Agencies take in an average of 25 external threat feeds each day and most cannot act on that information for hours or even days.

In addition, only 15% of agencies are able to reprogram endpoint sensors to create new protections within a few minutes, while just 17% can distribute these new protections within a few minutes.

“Agencies are falling into a culture that’s too focused on the legacy, manual way of doing security,” said Steve O’Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk. “Feds need their technology investments—not just their human expertise—to detect new attacks and determine what’s a full-blown, global, coordinated campaign as opposed to an unrelated or one-time event, and act accordingly to quickly and effectively minimize damage.”

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