Kramek's conclusion urged Congress to put the Coast Guard in charge of enforcing port cybersecurity standards and argued that the Department of Homeland Security should steer more money to enhance cybersecurity at ports.
In February, President Barack Obama issued an executive order requiring federal agencies, including the Coast Guard, to work with industry partners to secure critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. Cybersecurity gained more attention this year following a New York Times report that linked sophisticated hacking attacks to China's army.
Scher said port officials made clear to Kramek that computer security is handled by the MDOT, but that to the best of their knowledge, Kramek never followed up with staff there.
Contrary to the study's assertion that the port spent more than $7 million on security enhancements, Scher said more than $12 million was spent on thermal imaging devices, an extensive camera network and a mobile sonar detection unit. Recently, the port opened a new visitor access control center on Broening Highway.
In addition, the report said the port uses radio frequency identification tags to monitor truck traffic entering and leaving the port.
"We do not have RFID. We have other systems in place," Scher said.
In 2012, the Coast Guard gave the port's physical defenses its highest security rating for the fifth consecutive year, Scher noted.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — the country's largest and second-largest, respectively — also have taken defensive steps. Los Angeles used a $1.6 million grant to protect its computer networks from hackers, and Long Beach spent $35 million to build a secure communications infrastructure.
But neither has done all it should, Kramek wrote.
Los Angeles "has not conducted a cybersecurity vulnerability assessment, nor does it have a cyber incident response plan," the report said. Long Beach has no written cybersecurity directive or response plan.
John Holmes, a former Coast Guard officer who is deputy director for operations at Los Angeles port, called Kramek's conclusions "relatively accurate" and said authorities take cyberthreats seriously and are conducting a vulnerability assessment.
Long Beach port officials disputed some of the study's claims and conclusions.
"We have the latest cyber security technologies," spokesman Art Wong wrote in an email. "We patch all of our systems on a regular basis. We continuously train our users on cyber security best practices."
Tribune Newspapers' Washington bureau contributed to this article.