Cybersecurity: Continued Attention Needed to Protect Our Nation's Critical Infrastructure Page: 3 of 20
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Chairman Stearns, Ranking Member DeGette, and Members of the
Thank you for the opportunity to testify at today's hearing on the
cybersecurity risks to the nation's critical infrastructure.
Increasing computer interconnectivity-most notably growth in the use of
the Internet-has revolutionized the way that our government, our nation,
and much of the world communicate and conduct business. From its
origins in the 1960s as a research project sponsored by the U.S.
government, the Internet has grown increasingly important to both
American and foreign businesses and consumers, serving as the medium
for hundreds of billions of dollars of commerce each year. The Internet
has also become an extended information and communications
infrastructure, supporting vital services such as power distribution, health
care, law enforcement, and national defense.
While the benefits have been enormous, this widespread interconnectivity
also poses significant risks to the government's and our nation's
computer systems and, more importantly, to the critical operations and
infrastructures they support. The speed and accessibility that create the
enormous benefits of the computer age, if not properly controlled, can
allow unauthorized individuals and organizations to inexpensively
eavesdrop on or interfere with these operations from remote locations for
mischievous or malicious purposes, including fraud or sabotage. Recent
cyber-based attacks have further underscored the need to manage and
bolster the cybersecurity of our nation's critical infrastructures.
Mr. Chairman, in February, GAO issued its biennial high-risk list of
government programs that have greater vulnerability to fraud, waste,
abuse, and mismanagement or need transformation to address economy,
efficiency, or effectiveness challenges.1 Once again, we identified
protecting the federal government's information systems and the nation's
cyber critical infrastructure as a governmentwide high-risk area. We have
designated federal information security as a high-risk area since 1997; in
2003, we expanded this high-risk area to include protecting systems
supporting our nation's critical infrastructure, referred to as cyber critical
infrastructure protection or cyber CIP.
1GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-11-278 (Washington, D.C.: February 2011).
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Cybersecurity: Continued Attention Needed to Protect Our Nation's Critical Infrastructure, text, July 26, 2011; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc291528/m1/3/: accessed March 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.