Pervasive and sustained cyber attacks continue to pose a potentially devastating threat to the systems and operations of the federal government. In recent testimony, the Director of National Intelligence highlighted that many nation states, terrorist networks, and organized criminal groups have the capability to target elements of the United States information infrastructure for intelligence collection, intellectual property theft, or disruption. In July 2009, press accounts reported attacks on Web sites operated by major government agencies. The ever-increasing dependence of federal agencies on information systems to carry out essential, everyday operations can make them vulnerable to an array of cyber-based risks. Thus it is increasingly important that the federal government carry out a concerted effort to safeguard its systems and the information they contain. GAO is providing a statement describing (1) cyber threats to federal information systems and cyber-based critical infrastructures, (2) control deficiencies that make federal systems vulnerable to those threats, and (3) opportunities that exist for improving federal cybersecurity. In preparing this statement, GAO relied on its previously published work in this area.
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