Critical Infrastructure Protection:

Significant Challenges in Safeguarding Government and Privately Controlled Systems from Computer-Based Attacks

GAO-01-1168T: Published: Sep 26, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 2001.

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Robert F. Dacey
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Federal agencies, and other public and private groups, rely extensively on computer systems and electronic data. The security of these systems and data is essential to avoiding disruptions in critical operations and preventing data tampering, fraud, and inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information. However, federal computer systems contain weaknesses that continue to put critical operations and assets at risk. In particular, deficiencies exist in entitywide security programs that are critical to agencies' success in ensuring that risks are understood and effective controls are implemented. Many efforts have been undertaken to implement the nationally critical infrastructure protection strategy outlined in Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 63. However, progress in key areas has been limited. Although outreach efforts by many federal entities to establish cooperative relationships with and among private and other nonfederal entities have raised awareness and prompted information sharing, efforts to perform substantive analyses of sector-wide and cross-sector interdependencies and related vulnerabilities have been limited. A major impediment to implementing the strategy outlined in PDD 63 is the lack of a national plan that clearly spells out the roles and responsibilities of federal and nonfederal entities and defines interim objectives.

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