Defining Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure to Keep Business Running



Critical infrastructures continue at the tipping point of cybersecurity risks.

Cybersecurity threats in today’s digitally connected world are continuously surging. Despite crucial measures being implemented across business functions, risks of getting cyber attacks have become a business’s daily concern. Critical infrastructure is one such significant landscape that is more vulnerable to cybercriminals. Critical infrastructure typically is a term of systems, networks or assets that are very essential to both public and private entities and that require high-priority security. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) explains that securing critical infrastructure is a shared responsibility, from Federal, State, local, tribal and territorial governments to private companies and individual citizens.

In that sense, the security of the critical infrastructure is a long-standing priority. However, most organizations are left behind in their response to cyberthreats. The crisis induced by COVID-19 has not only further broadened the need of critical infrastructure but also given the rise of new threat risks. From a resurgence in cryptojacking to the rapid implantation of major malware attacks, all are now started threatening critical infrastructure landscape.

Organizations managing this growing landscape must build a proactive cybersecurity stance to protect such threats.


What Exactly Critical Infrastructure Is?

Calls for critical infrastructure cybersecurity has become even much louder these days. So, before we deep dive into this, we need to first explore what exactly critical infrastructure is.

It generally refers to physical or virtual systems and assets that come under government jurisdiction of a State and that are vital for the development of a society and economy. DHS lists 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered indispensable to the U.S. and their incapacitation would have a devastating impact on national security, economic security, public health or safety, and others. These sectors can be of utmost critical for any country in terms of cybersecurity. Those are Energy; Nuclear Reactor, Materials and Waste; Dams; Food and Agriculture; Defense; Financial Services; Water and Wastewater Systems; Healthcare and Public Health; Emergency Services; Transportation; Chemical; Communication; Information Technology; Critical Manufacturing; Government Facilities, and Commercial Facilities.


Policy Considerations  

Many governmental and non-governmental stakeholders increasingly back for a fundamentally different approach to critical infrastructure security. According to the OECD report, countries have their own national plans or strategies regarding protecting critical infrastructure. These strategies generally describe critical infrastructure as physical or intangible assets whose destruction or disruption would seriously undermine public safety, social order and the fulfillment of key government responsibilities. Such damage would generally be catastrophic and far-reaching. The risks for critical infrastructure could be both natural and man-made.

Earlier, conventional critical infrastructure bodies assumed to have several years of experience with traditional risk management and safety initiatives. With emerging digital needs and landscape, cybersecurity emerges as a relatively new priority. Undeniably, the cybersecurity risks for such infrastructure organizations continues to grow more precarious. According to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020, the volume of attacks on industrial control systems in 2019 was higher than the last three years combined.

On the other hand, the U.S. Federal Reserve detected over 50 cybersecurity breaches between 2011 and 2015, including several incidents considered to be espionage, according to the Security Industry Association story.

Moreover, such attacks have even taken place in 2020. Considering reports, Honda and Taiwan’s energy utility and a U.S. natural gas facility hit by major ransomware attacks. Water supply in Israel was also reportedly faced a major attack.