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Federal Agencies' Focus on U.S. Port Cybersecurity 'Limited', GAO Says

Actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security and two of its component agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as other federal agencies, to address cybersecurity in the maritime port environment have been limited, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Federal Agencies' Focus on U.S. Port Cybersecurity 'Limited', GAO Says

While the Coast Guard initiated a number of activities and coordinating strategies to improve physical security in specific ports, it has not conducted a risk assessment that fully addresses cyber-related threats, vulnerabilities and consequences. Coast Guard officials stated that they intend to conduct such an assessment in the future, but did not provide details to show how it would address cybersecurity. Until the Coast Guard completes a thorough assessment of cyber risks in the maritime environment, the ability of stakeholders to appropriately plan and allocate resources to protect ports and other maritime facilities will be limited.

Maritime security plans required by law and regulation generally did not identify or address potential cyber-related threats or vulnerabilities. This was because the guidance issued by Coast Guard for developing these plans did not require cyber elements to be addressed. Officials stated that guidance for the next set of updated plans, due for update in 2014, will include cybersecurity requirements. However, in the absence of a comprehensive risk assessment, the revised guidance may not adequately address cyber-related risks to the maritime environment.

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