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Cyber threats and vulnerabilities for critical infrastructure continue to rise and the communication between the private sector and government is still weak, according to a new survey.

More than 40% of U.S.-based critical infrastructure companies still have no interaction with the federal government on cyber-defense matters, according to a survey of more than 200 critical infrastructure executives.

In addition, 80% of critical infrastructure companies last year faced a large-scale denial of service attack, and almost 40% of respondents saw them monthly, according to the report conducted on behalf of McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Those figures compare to 2009, when almost half of all companies experienced no denial of service attacks whatsoever.

The global survey found that, even as these attacks rise worldwide, the U.S. government lags significantly in working closely with industry on cyber security issues as compared to some other countries. Compared to 40% in the United States, only 5% of Chinese executives said they had not worked with their government on network security.

Cyber Security

As far as government interaction goes, in Japan, every company surveyed had been subject to a government audit of their security, whereas the number of companies in the United States subject to government audits hovered at close to 15%.

Although the government has given away billions of dollars for smart grid investment in the past few years, much of it coming from the 2009 stimulus package, none of that money came with the condition there were underlying cyber security requirements.

“They didn’t include the requirement for cyber security plans until they gave the grants out,” said Michael Peters, energy infrastructure and cyber security advisor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“If there is a race among governments to harden their civilian infrastructure against cyberattack, Europe and the United States are falling behind Asia,” the report’s authors wrote.

While the U.S. government has created numerous efforts and groups over the past several years to help bolster critical infrastructure cyber security, there is a need to do more.

For its part, Congress is moving, but none of the dozens of cyber security-related bills introduced in Congress since the beginning of the previous session have made it to the president’s desk, and a long-awaited comprehensive cyber bill that would address public-private critical infrastructure partnerships has yet to make it to the Senate floor.

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