What cybersecurity companies does the government use?

Cyber threats facing governments are on the rise and pose significant national security risks. Government agencies possess large troves of highly sensitive information about citizens and critical infrastructure. Cyber criminals, hacktivists, and even nation states attempt to infiltrate government networks to steal classified data, disrupt operations, or conduct espionage. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there has been a recent surge in ransomware attacks on state and local governments, with at least 88 targeted in the first 9 months of 2019 alone.

It is imperative for governments at all levels to invest in cybersecurity and partner with experienced contractors to protect networks and data. Governments need advanced threat detection, rapid incident response, and information sharing with partners. New cyber risks are constantly emerging, so sustained vigilance and adaptation is required. This article will provide an overview of major cybersecurity contractors who work with U.S. government agencies to defend against attacks and secure critical systems.

Top Cybersecurity Contractors

The US government works with many top cybersecurity companies to protect sensitive data and critical systems. According to GovConWire 1, some of the largest government cybersecurity contractors include:

Raytheon – Provides cybersecurity solutions and services for national security systems and federal agencies. Raytheon specializes in cyber threat detection, analytics, and response.

SAIC – Delivers cybersecurity engineering and integration services to support the missions of military and intelligence agencies. SAIC assists with blocking cyberattacks and protecting classified information.

General Dynamics – Offers cyber solutions for classified and unclassified government networks. General Dynamics helps secure critical infrastructure and weapon systems from cyber threats.

Lockheed Martin – Develops cyber analytics and countermeasures to defend government systems and technologies. Lockheed Martin leverages data science and artificial intelligence for cyber operations.

ManTech – Provides cybersecurity monitoring, insider threat detection, and network defense for federal agencies. ManTech analyzes user behavior to identify potential cyber risks.

Capabilities and Expertise

The top cybersecurity contractors that work with the government possess a diverse range of capabilities and expertise. According to Viewpoint, some of the core capabilities that contractors need to provide include:

  • Threat detection and analysis using advanced analytics
  • Incident response planning and execution
  • Security operations center management
  • Compliance auditing and training
  • Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing
  • Secure software development

Leading contractors have expertise across IT infrastructure, network security, application security, identity and access management, data security, and more. They employ certified professionals including CISSPs, CEHs, OSCPs, and others. According to Winvale, top contractors are able to perform security requirements for operationally critical systems.

Many firms have dedicated practices for serving government clients. They understand specific compliance needs like FedRAMP, NIST, HIPAA, and FISMA. Their experience implementing complex security programs enables them to help civilian agencies and the Department of Defense detect and respond to the latest cyber threats.

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $2 billion contract to support the Defense Department with cybersecurity risk management in 2019. According to Top 10 Government Cybersecurity Company Contractors, they provide round-the-clock threat detection and monitoring services.

SAIC also received a $2 billion IT infrastructure support contract from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2021, which includes cybersecurity services. As reported by The Top 10 Federal IT Contractors, the contract involves maintaining the FBI’s IT infrastructure and protecting their networks.

In 2022, General Dynamics was awarded a $618 million contract by the Space Force to provide cybersecurity services and IT infrastructure support. According to Companies Announced Billions in US Government Cybersecurity Contracts in 2022, General Dynamics will deliver cybersecurity tools and risk management for Space Force systems.

Notable Government Contracts

Small Business Contractors

The government actively supports small businesses pursuing contracts in cybersecurity. According to the Department of Defense, the federal government awards approximately 10% of all contracts, or around $50 billion, to small disadvantaged businesses annually. The Small Business Administration has awarded numerous cybersecurity contracts to help small businesses gain a foothold in this critical field.

Some of the advantages for small cybersecurity firms include more access to government clients, specialized small business programs, and partnerships with larger contractors. The SBA helps small businesses navigate the complex federal procurement process through training programs, contract set-asides, and advisory services. Small cyber firms should leverage resources like the SBA’s Federal Contracting Guide and Local Assistance Offices to increase their competitiveness.

With cyber threats growing daily, the government needs the skills and agility small cyber contractors can provide. By taking advantage of SBA assistance and partnering strategically, small businesses have tremendous opportunities in the government cybersecurity arena.

Security Clearances

To work on sensitive government cybersecurity projects, contractors usually require security clearances. There are three main levels of security clearance – Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. Confidential is the lowest level, providing access to information that could cause ‘damage’ if disclosed. Secret provides access to information that could cause ‘serious damage’ if disclosed. Top Secret is the highest level, providing access to information that could cause ‘exceptionally grave damage’ if disclosed (CyberDegrees, n.d.).

Top cybersecurity contractors working with the government often require employees to obtain Top Secret clearance. For example, companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, Leidos, and CACI employ thousands of workers with Top Secret clearance to work on sensitive cyber projects. The process of obtaining a top-level security clearance can take 6 months to a year and requires a thorough background check, polygraph test, and determination that the applicant does not have any disqualifying factors (UniversityHQ, n.d.).

Maintaining top-level security clearances is an ongoing requirement for contractors in this field. Any changes in personal status, foreign contacts, finances, or arrests must be immediately reported. However, cleared personnel are highly valued by government agencies and contractors alike (Coursera, 2023).

Challenges and Controversies

The cybersecurity industry faces several challenges and controversies, particularly when working with the government. A major issue has been security breaches of sensitive government data. In May 2015, the US Office of Personnel Management revealed that personal records of over 20 million people had been compromised due to poor cybersecurity practices of a government contractor (Baker Donelson). More recently in 2021, contractor SolarWinds suffered a major breach that impacted several US government agencies (CISA, 2021). These incidents highlight the accountability challenges in outsourcing cybersecurity work to contractors.

Another controversy has been around public trust and transparency. Some argue that having private companies handle sensitive government data and systems compromises security, as contractors’ priorities may not fully align with the public interest. There have been calls for more oversight and vetting of cybersecurity contractors to ensure they uphold ethics and public service values (C4ISRNET). How to balance reasonable security precautions with public accountability remains an ongoing debate.

Emerging Technologies

Cybersecurity contractors are at the forefront of adopting new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain to better defend against ever-evolving cyber threats. According to a recent Accenture report, over 80% of cybersecurity professionals believe AI and machine learning are essential to the future of cybersecurity.

For example, Booz Allen Hamilton has developed an AI system called Searus that mimics how the human brain thinks to analyze vast amounts of network data and detect cyber attacks faster than traditional methods. Their system is able to process over 1.4 million data points per second.[1] Similarly, Lockheed Martin uses AI techniques like natural language processing and computer vision in their products to analyze large volumes of data, documents, images, and videos to identify cyber threats.

Blockchain is also emerging as a tool for cybersecurity. It provides decentralized, immutable ledgers that can track events on a network in a secure way. For example, Raytheon BBN Technologies is exploring blockchain to provide data integrity verification, identity management, and supply chain assurance in defense systems.[2]

By leveraging these cutting-edge technologies, cybersecurity contractors will continue enhancing their ability to predict, detect, and respond to the cyber threats of tomorrow.

Looking Ahead

The future of government cybersecurity will likely see increased adoption of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), quantum computing could crack current encryption methods, requiring new quantum-resistant algorithms.1

The 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy from the Biden administration calls for greater investment in cybersecurity technologies to “out-innovate and out-compete” adversaries.2 This includes researching and developing new cybersecurity technologies tailored to the government’s unique needs.

Per the White House Office of the National Cyber Director, the government aims to expand the cybersecurity workforce to keep pace with evolving threats. This involves training programs to build a pipeline of cybersecurity talent.3

Overall, the forecast is for heightened innovation and adoption of advanced cybersecurity to protect sensitive government systems and data against increasingly sophisticated attacks.


Cybersecurity continues to be a top priority for the US government. As cyber threats from state actors, hackers, and criminal organizations grow more sophisticated, the government must partner with experienced cybersecurity companies capable of protecting sensitive data and critical infrastructure.

This article has provided an overview of the major cybersecurity contractors the government works with, including industry leaders like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman. Their expertise spans a wide range of cybersecurity domains, including network security, endpoint protection, threat intelligence, incident response, and more.

In awarding contracts, the government considers both large and small businesses, looking for the right mix of capabilities, experience, and pricing. Many smaller cybersecurity firms boast specialized expertise that complements the breadth of services provided by larger contractors.

No matter the size of the provider, rigorous security clearances ensure that only trusted partners work on sensitive government systems and data. Ongoing oversight helps validate that cybersecurity contractors follow best practices and deliver maximum protection.

As new threats continue to emerge, government cybersecurity partners must stay ahead of the curve with leading-edge technologies in areas like AI, machine learning, and quantum computing. The right partnerships with the private sector help strengthen America’s cyber defenses on all fronts.