Information Superhighway:

An Overview of Technology Challenges

AIMD-95-23: Published: Jan 23, 1995. Publicly Released: Jan 23, 1995.

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GAO reviewed the technical issues associated with protecting the information superhighway from unauthorized access.

GAO found that: (1) the information superhighway poses technical challenges concerning the security, privacy, and reliability of personal and proprietary information; (2) a large proportion of the information that will traverse the superhighway will be sensitive and a tempting target for hackers, foreign governments conducting political and military intelligence operations, domestic and foreign enterprises engaged in industrial espionage, or terrorist groups seeking to disrupt society or the economy; (3) significant effort will be needed to define, develop, test, and implement measures to prevent unauthorized access to the superhighway; (4) although the federal government could play a leading role in ensuring the superhighway's security, critics argue that individuals should be free to choose the technical means for meeting their security requirements; (5) a major challenge facing the development of the information superhighway will be creating a consensus between the federal government, computer and communications industry, business community, and civil liberties groups on how to ensure information security and privacy; (6) federal and private sectors have begun establishing uniform standards to ensure the superhighway's interoperability; and (7) questions remain about how to protect the superhighway from large network failures and encourage the telecommunications industry to develop a secure and reliable infrastructure.