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GAO Challenges and Efforts to Secure Control Systems (March 2004)

Computerized control systems perform vital functions across many of our nation’s critical infrastructures. For example, in natural gas distribution, they can monitor and control the pressure and flow of gas through pipelines. In October 1997, the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection emphasized the increasing vulnerability of control systems to cyber attacks. The House Committee on Government Reform and its Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census asked GAO to report on potential cyber vulnerabilities, focusing on (1) significant cybersecurity risks associated with control systems (2) potential and reported cyber attacks against these systems (3) key challenges to securing control systems and (4) efforts to strengthen the cybersecurity of control systems.

GAO recommends that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) develop and implement a strategy for coordinating with the private sector and other government agencies to improve control system security, including an approach for coordinating the various ongoing efforts to secure control systems. DHS concurred with GAO’s recommendation.