Cybersecurity: Continued Attention Needed to Protect Our Nation's Critical Infrastructure Page: 4 of 20
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In my testimony today, I will describe (1) cyber threats facing cyber-reliant
critical infrastructures; (2) recent actions the federal government has
taken, in partnership with the private sector, to identify and protect cyber-
reliant critical infrastructures; and (3) ongoing challenges to protecting
cyber critical infrastructure. In preparing this statement in July 2011, we
relied on our previous work in these areas (please see the related GAO
products page at the end of this statement). These products contain
detailed overviews of the scope of our reviews and the methodology we
used. The work on which this statement is based was performed in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform audits to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions. We believe that the evidence obtained provided
a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit
Critical infrastructures are systems and assets, whether physical or
virtual, so vital to our nation that their incapacity or destruction would
have a debilitating impact on national security, economic well-being,
pubic health or safety, or any combination of these. Critical infrastructure
includes, among other things, banking and financial institutions,
telecommunications networks, and energy production and transmission
facilities, most of which are owned by the private sector. As these critical
infrastructures have become increasingly dependent on computer
systems and networks, the interconnectivity between information
systems, the Internet, and other infrastructures creates opportunities for
attackers to disrupt critical systems, with potentially harmful effects.
Because the private sector owns most of the nation's critical
infrastructures, forming effective partnerships between the public and
private sectors is vital to successfully protect cyber-reliant critical assets
from a multitude of threats, including terrorists, criminals, and hostile
nations. Federal law and policy have established roles and
responsibilities for federal agencies to work with the private sector and
other entities in enhancing the cyber and physical security of critical
public and private infrastructures. These policies stress the importance of
coordination between the government and the private sector to protect
the nation's computer-reliant critical infrastructure. In addition, they
establish the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the focal point
for the security of cyberspace-including analysis, warning, information
sharing, vulnerability reduction, mitigation efforts, and recovery efforts for
public and private critical infrastructure and information systems. Federal
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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.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc291528/m1/4/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.