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The Role of Cybersecurity Services in the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure

holographic security images above keyboard

How Technology and IT Security Bolster the Resilience of Key Infrastructure Sectors

Critical infrastructure enables populations to connect to the Internet, get medical attention when they’re sick or injured, access clean water, and use public transportation. Even the simple act of making a phone call or buying a loaf of bread at the store ties back to infrastructure.

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), critical infrastructure consists of the essential networks, systems, and assets that can potentially incapacitate or destroy the country if they were suddenly compromised.

In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of critical infrastructure sectors and how cybersecurity services ensure their continuity. We will also explore how cybersecurity for businesses can safeguard organizations, improve efficiency, and protect data.

What Are the Main Critical Infrastructure Sectors?

According to CISA, there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors that ensure populations have access to essential resources, can conduct regular day-to-day activities, and are protected in cases of national security threats and disasters.

Sectors include:

  • Chemical
  • Commercial facilities
  • Communications
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Dams
  • Defense industrial base
  • Emergency services
  • Energy
  • Financial services
  • Food and agriculture
  • Government facilities
  • Healthcare and public health
  • Information technology
  • Nuclear reactors, materials, and waste
  • Transportation systems
  • Water and wastewater systems

The following sections will explore some of these critical infrastructure sectors and their main security considerations.

Chemical Sector

The U.S. chemical sector is responsible for creating more than 70,000 essential chemical products and distributing them to over 750,000 end users, using a national supply chain. Some of the most notable chemicals include:

  • Pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals for agricultural use.
  • Toothpaste, bleach, cosmetics, and other consumer chemicals.
  • Sealants, fragrances, flavors, and other specialty chemicals.
  • Basic chemicals like sulfuric acid and sodium chloride.

CISA reports that cybersecurity services are essential to safeguard the chemical sector from insider threats, external terrorist attacks, and supply chain vulnerabilities. A breach in IT security can result in a significant disruption in chemical resources and products making it to their intended destination.

Commercial Facilities Sector

The commercial facilities sector consists of public places and attractions that are meant to draw sizable crowds for entertainment, shopping, and events. Local examples include:

  • Sports facilities like Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium.
  • Retail districts like The Country Club Plaza and Town Center.
  • Offices, condos, apartment buildings, and other real estate.
  • Public assembly spaces and convention centers, like the Overland Park Convention Center.
  • Outdoor event spaces that host marathons, fairs, and parades.
  • Lodging sites and RV parks.
  • Casinos and gaming sites, like Bally’s or Ameristar.
  • Entertainment and media sites like AMC Theaters, Worlds of Fun, and Dave & Buster’s.

CISA notes that public health threats, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, explosive devices, and breaches in IT security are the main security considerations for this sector. For example, a cybersecurity breach can disrupt Internet services, resulting in an inability to take online reservations, sell merchandise, and perform online marketing.

Communications Sector

The communications sector is responsible for the nation’s complex network of satellite, hardline, and wireless systems that enable populations to make calls, send emails, request emergency services, and transmit information. As witnessed during the widespread AT&T outage in February 2024, a loss of communications can have drastic consequences.

CISA notes the following as the main security considerations for the communications sector:

  • Cyber threats and attacks from malicious actors
  • Vulnerabilities with Internet of Things (IoT) devices
  • Direct attacks on cell phone towers and other communications equipment
  • Insider threats, including unintentional attacks as a result of a lack of cybersecurity training

Critical Manufacturing Sector

The critical manufacturing sector is responsible for manufacturing and building infrastructure. Its most notable contributions include:

  • Producing and processing essential metals like aluminum, steel, and iron.
  • Manufacturing engines, construction equipment, and turbines.
  • Creating essential electrical equipment like generators and transformers.
  • Manufacturing personal vehicles, aerospace products, locomotives, and other transportation equipment.

CISA reports that one of the main security risks to this sector are the cybersecurity breaches that intend to take over systems, steal proprietary data, hinder manufacturing, and disrupt day-to-day processes.

Emergency Services Sector

The emergency services sector is responsible for saving those in peril, protecting communities and property, providing essential aid, and maintaining law and order. This sector consists of the following five sub-sectors:

  • Police and law enforcement
  • Fire and rescue services
  • Emergency medical services
  • Emergency management
  • Public works

CISA reports that the most notable security risks to this sector include disruptions and cyberattacks that intend to hinder communications, and by extension, impact response times. They also report that violent extremists and terrorists attempt IT security breaches to compromise law enforcement and fire and rescue teams during critical situations.

The Importance of Cybersecurity for Businesses

Similar to how our nation’s most critical infrastructure sectors are at risk of cyberattacks and breaches, so too are local businesses and organizations across all industries. As companies increasingly rely on digital platforms, cloud services, and interconnected networks to conduct their operations, they become more susceptible to cyber threats.

Cybersecurity is the first line of defense against malicious actors seeking unauthorized access, data breaches, and disruptions to business processes. It safeguards sensitive information, financial assets, and intellectual property, instilling trust among clients, partners, and stakeholders.

Kansas City organizations requiring cybersecurity services should contact a local managed IT service provider. Not only can they safeguard companies against cyberattacks and data breaches, but they can also provide essential IT services such as data and disaster recovery services, application and server support, and IT consulting and employee education.

April 15, 2024