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In less than two decades, advances in information and communications technologies have revolutionized government, scientific, educational, and commercial infrastructures. Powerful personal computers, high-bandwidth and wireless networking technologies, and the widespread use of the Internet have transformed stand-alone systems and predominantly closed networks into a virtually seamless fabric of interconnectivity. The types of devices that can connect to this vast information technology (IT) infrastructure have multiplied to include not only fixed wired devices but mobile wireless ones. A growing percentage of access is through always-on connections, and users and organizations are increasingly interconnected across physical and logical networks, organizational boundaries, and national borders. As the fabric of connectivity has broadened, the volume of electronic information exchanged through what is popularly known as cyberspace has grown dramatically and expanded beyond traditional traffic to include multimedia data, process control signals, and other forms of data. New applications and services that use IT infrastructure capabilities are constantly emerging.
The IT infrastructure has become an integral part of the critical infrastructures of the country. The IT infrastructures interconnected computers, servers, storage devices, routers, switches, and wire line, wireless, and hybrid links increasingly support the functioning of such critical national capabilities as power grids, emergency communications systems, financial systems, and air traffic- control networks. The operational stability and security of critical information infrastructure is vital for economic security of the country.
In addition to its underlying role in critical information infrastructures, the IT infrastructure enables large-scale processes throughout the economy, facilitating complex interactions among systems across global networks. Their interactions propel innovation in industrial design and manufacturing, e-commerce, e-governance, communications, and many other economic sectors. The IT infrastructure provides for the processing, transmission, and storage of vast amounts of vital information used in every domain of society, and it enables government agencies to rapidly interact with each other as well as with industry, citizens, state and local governments, and the governments of other nations.