Information Security: Progress Made, But Challenges Remain to Protect Federal Systems and the Nation's Critical Infrastructures

GAO-03-564T Published: Apr 08, 2003. Publicly Released: Apr 08, 2003.
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Protecting the computer systems that support federal agencies' operations and our nation's critical infrastructures--such as power distribution, telecommunications, water supply, and national defense--is a continuing concern. These concerns are well-founded for a number of reasons, including the dramatic increases in reported computer security incidents, the ease of obtaining and using hacking tools, the steady advance in the sophistication and effectiveness of attack technology, and the dire warnings of new and more destructive attacks. GAO first designated computer security as high risk in 1997, and in 2003 expanded this high-risk area to include protecting the systems that support our nation's critical infrastructures, referred to as cyber critical infrastructure protection or cyber CIP. GAO has made previous recommendations and periodically testified on federal information security weaknesses--including agencies' progress in implementing key legislative provisions on information security--and the challenges that the nation faces in protecting our nation's critical infrastructures. GAO was asked to provide an update on the status of federal information security and CIP.

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