Critical infrastructure is fundamental to the provision of essential services. These range from basic things like water, power, food, and clean air to more complex aspects like communication satellites, airplane traffic, and maintaining nuclear power plants. But did you know that both the government and private entities play a vital role in maintaining critical infrastructure?
Often, the provision of these essential services is the collaborative responsibility of different levels of government, private companies as well as individual citizens. That’s why the US Department of Homeland Security states that securing critical infrastructure is a shared responsibility.
In fact, the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) of 2013 outlines ways in which public and private players can help protect critical infrastructure within the US. Given that the modern world is largely digital with tons of cyber vulnerabilities and threats lurking around the corner, employing cybersecurity solutions in critical infrastructure is fundamental.
In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 sectors in critical infrastructure that heavily rely on cybersecurity. As a result, you’ll see how important it is to protect them and the role of cybersecurity solutions.
Sectors of Critical Infrastructure in Need of Cybersecurity
According to PPD-21 Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, there are a total of 16 sectors within the US critical infrastructure framework. The incorporation of cybersecurity solutions in all these sectors is indeed vital to the functionality of society. However, some sectors are more prone to cyber-attacks based on their importance to a stable and healthy economy.
These sectors include:
Energy powers the US economy. Without a steady supply of energy, hospitals, businesses, transportation systems, homes, and several other critical institutions would be paralyzed.
Do note that power grids can only be taken out physically since they cannot be connected via the internet. However, criminal organizations target companies within the energy sector to obtain mapping data from their control systems. These mappings are responsible for managing the power grids across the US, hence the importance of boosting cybersecurity.
Water and Wastewater Systems Sector
Water is fundamental to the well-being of both plants and human beings. Apart from being essential for drinking and food production, we have also found effective ways to reuse wastewater and treat unfiltered water for safe consumption, thanks to vast innovative technologies.
Given its importance, this sector has been a target for cybercriminals. But with cutting-edge and proactive cybersecurity strategies in place, cyber threats and risks are significantly reduced.
Emergency Services Sector
The emergency services sector is crucial for protecting the environment and saving lives. It consists of thousands of trained and highly skilled persons who combine both physical and cybersecurity resources to provide a wide range of readiness and recovery services.
Over the past few years, this sector has increasingly become a target for malware attacks. That means anyone working within this sector can be taken offline, jeopardizing the public safety and security of people, property, and the environment as a whole.
Information Technology Sector
The information technology sector is the basis of societal operations since it plays a vital role in basic day-to-day operations. As a result, most industries, if not all, are at risk of cyber attacks.
In particular, online casinos store plenty of sensitive customer data in their databases, making them an attractive target for cyber attackers. Besides storing data, online casinos also facilitate money transactions from player accounts to various payment methods.
Thus, such industries should frequently fortify their cybersecurity strategies. Likewise, applying proactive measures to prevent sensitive personal and financial data from falling into the wrong hands is key.
Financial Services Sector
As one of the most vital services in modern society, the financial services sector involves government and private companies that deal with money management. That includes banks, credit card companies, credit unions, etc.
As such, widespread power outages, natural disasters, and sophisticated cyber attacks would result in disastrous effects for players within this sector. Luckily, implementing the latest cybersecurity solutions not only keeps you safe from cyber threats but also prevents inefficiencies and costly vulnerabilities.
We cannot overstate the importance of critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Attacks on these systems have proved to have detrimental effects, not only for US residents but the entire world. That said, investing in cybersecurity strategies is fundamental for all players within all critical infrastructure sectors, especially the five sectors mentioned above.
But, remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing effort that requires a proactive and multi-layered line of action. From continuous assessment to frequent patch management and robust access controls to proactive network segmentations, there’s plenty to do to ensure critical infrastructure cybersecurity and facilitate the smooth operation of modern civilization.