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Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Encompasses Key Sectors


Critical infrastructure comprises various sectors the government deems vital to its functioning and the safety of US citizens. The incapacitation or destruction of critical infrastructure can result in debilitating effects on national security, economic security, and public health safety.

As such, special attention must be paid to protecting the physical and virtual assets, systems, and networks of these sectors from cybersecurity attacks. There’s even a Presidential Policy Directive, PPD-21, in place to strengthen and maintain resilient critical infrastructure.

The policy is known as the Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience. PPD-21 is so critical that it supersedes the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7. Here’s an overview of the main sectors critical infrastructure sectors that call for heightened cybersecurity:

1. Chemical Sector

The chemical sector handles all components of potentially dangerous chemicals used by other critical industries. All chemicals are grouped into four main types: basic chemicals, specialty chemicals, agricultural chemicals, and consumer product chemicals.

Various systems, assets, and networks are used to manufacture, store, distribute, and utilize the chemicals. PPD 21 identifies DHS as the sector risk management agency (SRMA) for the chemical sector. However, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) performs the SRMA responsibilities on DHS’ behalf.

This includes leading public-private partnerships, collaborating with companies, and developing tools and resources to advance the sector’s security and resilience. The chemical sector thus relies on critical infrastructure to achieve its security outcomes.

2. Commercial and Government Facilities

The commercial facilities sector and government facilities sector are vulnerable to coordinated attacks by hackers and other groups. Cybersecurity for critical infrastructure seeks to protect commercial spaces open to the general public from such attacks.

To achieve this, CISA offers strategies to improve security and resilience across eight different subsectors. CISA also offers strategies for the government facilities sector. This includes helping facilities identify risk factors and galvanize security systems to prevent potential attacks.

Government facilities include federal, state, local, and tribunal offices, buildings, and spaces. The sector also provides solutions for schools, courthouses, and historic landmarks. These sectors can use access restrictions to prevent unauthorized access.

3. Information Technology Sector

One of the IT sector’s goals is to identify and protect against cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. This goal becomes increasingly complex each year as the nation’s dependency on information technology grows. Many industries rely on IT to function.

E-commerce stores, warehouses, and logistics companies all use IT systems. Some industries, like online gambling, solely rely on IT systems to serve their customers. As such, IT has a critical role in providing effective security solutions to combat cyber-attacks.

The best online casinos use VPN servers and protocols, two-factor authentication, KYC, and instant notifications. These proactive measures help to safeguard sensitive customer data from hackers and fraudsters. IT can also help identify and track the origins of perpetrators.

4. Communications Sector

Although the private sector is primarily responsible for protecting the infrastructure and assets of the communications sector, CISA has a special role too. The agency works with private sector stakeholders to implement risk management frameworks that protect all aspects of the sector.

Over the years, the communications sector has evolved into a robust industry with wireless, satellite, and terrestrial systems with numerous interdependencies. Predicting, anticipating, and responding to sector attacks and outages are among the top priorities.

Since communication links nearly all industries, it’s part of the critical infrastructure that requires comprehensive security against attacks. Communication breakdowns can result in the shutting down of other critical sectors like energy, IT, and financial services.

5. Energy Sector

Ensuring a stable energy supply is crucial for various industries that rely on electricity, oil, and natural gas resources. The multifaceted energy sector uses different assets to maintain a steady supply and ensure everyone has access to clean, sustainable energy.

An attack on the energy systems and assets can be disastrous. Downtimes can spell massive losses for manufacturing and service industries that require a 24/7 energy supply. All modern economies require a stable, controlled, and sustainable energy supply.

Cybersecurity infrastructure for the energy sector aims to protect the energy systems from unauthorized access. Companies in the sector follow strict protocols to intensify security around the critical assets relied on to maintain the overall health of the sector.

Other Sectors Covered by CISA

Cybersecurity for critical infrastructure encompasses many other sectors, including critical manufacturing, dams, and defense industrial base sectors. CISA identifies, assesses, prioritizes, and protects these industries against threats that can halt critical operations.

Cybersecurity approaches are both preventative and restorative. The goal is to prevent cyber-attacks or mitigate their impact if prevention isn’t possible. Below are seven more sectors with critical infrastructure vulnerable to cyber-attacks:

  • Emergency services
  • Financial services
  • Food and agriculture
  • Health and public health
  • Nuclear reactors, materials, and waste
  • Water and wastewater systems
  • Transport systems.

Key Takeaways

From power grids to water treatment plants and emergency response systems, critical infrastructure sectors require constant monitoring and assessment. CISA protects these sectors from various threats to ensure the continuity of operations.

Cybersecurity workers require core competencies in data management and analysis, programming, risk management, cloud computing, automation, and more. Protecting critical infrastructure from attacks is essential for the functioning of the country and its economy.

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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