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Keeping Our Critical Infrastructure Cyber-Secure

Suzanne E. Spaulding
Under Secretary, NPPD

We all are increasingly reliant on the Internet.  Not just when we’re on a laptop or smart phone.  The underlying critical infrastructure that provides essential services to all of us also is becoming more dependent on the internet. While these cyber-dependent networks and devices offer greater convenience and efficiency, they also come with potential risks and threats to our security.

DHS recognizes that these emerging cyber threats require the engagement of our entire society – from government to the private sector and members of the public. Pursuant to the President’s Executive Order 13636: Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, the National Institute for Standards and Technology developed and released a Cybersecurity Framework, a collection of cybersecurity standards available to critical infrastructure owners and operators and governments. To help entities implement the Framework, DHS launched the C3 Voluntary Program.  This public-private partnership assists businesses of all sizes, and at all levels, from the board room to the IT department and everyone in between, as well as government, educational institutions, and households all across the country, to become more secure online.

Consumers play an important role in helping to secure critical infrastructure not only by practicing good cyber hygiene themselves, but also by becoming well-informed about whether the companies and organizations they do business with adhere to high cybersecurity standards.

On an individual basis, consumers can:

  • Read the privacy policy of a company or vendor before purchasing a product or service from them.
  • Beware of requests to update or confirm personal information online. Most organizations do not ask for personal information over email.
  • Make sure websites that ask for personal information (e.g., to pay a utility bill) use encryption to secure their sites.
  • Learn about steps to enhance security and resilience in local businesses and communities.

By working together, we can protect the critical infrastructure on which we all we rely, keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safer and more secure from threats both physical and cyber.

Visit www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month-2014 for more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

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