According to a survey of information technology professionals conducted by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the U.S. government is at risk for a major cyber attack in the next year, but agencies are not adequately prepared to defend themselves.

Some 49% of IT professionals in the survey think it is likely the government will be hit by a major cyber attack in the next 12 months, with a third of those saying it is extremely likely, according to the BSA study, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. Of those IT professionals most expert on security issues, those responsible for their company's computer and Internet security, 59% think a major attack against the government is likely in the next year, the survey said.

"It's sobering that IT professionals predict a major cyber attack against the United States in the next 12 months," said BSA president & CEO Robert Holleyman. "Even more alarming, nine out of 10 IT professionals believe that the threat of a major cyber attack is the same or worse since September 11.

Holleyman said this underscores the need for accelerated cooperation between the public and private sector to ensure that sound cyber security technologies are deployed for homeland security."

The survey polled 395 IT professionals between June 5-7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5%. The poll was conducted online and surveyed IT professionals from companies of all sizes in a variety of business sectors.