The BSA is a trade group representing software vendors, including purveyors of security tools such as Entrust, whose CEO, Bill Connor, was on hand to present the findings on Tuesday.
Of the 395 IT professionals surveyed, 49% thought it was likely that the government will be hit by a major cyber attack in the next 12 months, with a third of those saying it was extremely likely.
Respondents who are responsible for IT security in their company are even more concerned, with 59% saying a major attack against the government is likely in the next year.
Seventy-two percent of respondents believe there is a gap between the threat of cyber attack and the government's ability to respond. A vast majority of respondents, 86%, agree that the government should spend at least as many resources to protect against cyber attacks as it did to prepare for Y2K.
In a prepared statement, Entrust's Connors complained that the government was not moving at "war speed" to fight off cyber attacks, which he called "a persistent threat," in contrast to Y2K, which was a one-time event.
The survey was conducted by Ispos Public Affairs, a subsidiary of Paris-based Ipsos Research. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5%.