Increasing computer interconnectivity, such as the growth of the Internet, has revolutionized the way our government, our nation, and much of the world communicate and conduct business. However, this widespread interconnectivity poses significant risks to the government's and the nation's computer systems, and to the critical infrastructures they support. These critical infrastructures include systems and assets--both physical and virtual--that are essential to the nation's security, economic prosperity, and public health, such as financial institutions, telecommunications networks, and energy production and transmission facilities. Because most of these infrastructures are owned by the private sector, establishing effective public-private partnerships is essential to securing them from pervasive cyber-based threats. Federal law and policy call for federal entities, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to work with private-sector partners to enhance the physical and cyber security of these critical infrastructures. GAO is providing a statement describing (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 these infrastructures. In preparing this statement, GAO relied on its previously published work in the area.
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