In just five years, the number of cyber attacks launched against the federal government has increased 680 percent between 2006 and 2011, a Government Accountability Office official told House lawmakers on Tuesday.
Agencies have been subject to data loss, computer and privacy breaches as a result of malicious code, denial of service attacks and unauthorized systems access, Gregory Wilshusen, GAO director of information issues, told the subcommittee on oversight, investigations and management.
Wilshusen said foreign nations, criminal groups, terrorists and political activists were the culprits behind many of the recorded attacks, underscoring the need for improved network security practices.
Critical infrastructure components should be a top priority and, in particular, evident weaknesses in information security controls, he said.
Wilshusen said information that supports government personnel, assets and operations is at stake as a result of weak security controls.
The Office of Management and Budget issued a similar report in March, indicating there was an increase of attacks on federal networks.
His testimony comes as the House is set to debate several cyber bills related to information sharing and protecting the nation’s infrastructure.