When we talk about critical infrastructure, certain aspects are easier to picture than others. For example, everyone can visualize roads, waterways, and electrical grids. We must also consider the increasing number of cybersystems that are critical to daily life, operating largely out of sight. These include financial and communications systems, as well as the manufacturing centers that create critical resources.
Considering the wide range of critical infrastructure that Americans rely on in their daily lives, it’s crucial to have systems in place to both prevent attacks and facilitate recovery when damage occurs. Studying how to best achieve this goal is the mission of the Critical Infrastructure and Resilience Institute (CIRI), a DHS S&T Center of Excellence.
Based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, CIRI researches the factors that contribute to critical infrastructure resilience, as well as how they are applied in the real world. CIRI also examines how businesses that own or operate critical infrastructure make decisions about infrastructure security, and what future critical infrastructure resilience might look like.
I’d like to highlight two CIRI projects that exemplify the range of critical infrastructure. First, the Supply Chain Cybersecurity Assurance for Critical Infrastructure Project aims to better protect the critical infrastructure community from intentionally compromised hardware and/or software. While there are currently tests in place to detect malicious hardware and software, rapid technological progress means we must always be preparing for the next kind of cyber-attack. I’m eager to see how this effort will help identify the methods needed to accurately detect and address supply-side cyber intrusions.
Second, the Measuring and Rewarding Resilience Project is examining how the critical infrastructure sector incorporates resilience into its efforts based on market-driven incentives. That is to say, what contributes to a company’s decision to insure their critical infrastructure-related efforts? Determining these factors will help us understand how to better incentivize resilience measures.
Want to learn more? November 29, from 1-2 p.m. EST, S&T is hosting a Facebook town hall with CIRI to answer your questions on critical infrastructure. Some of the nation’s brightest minds in this area will be available for the discussion, so I strongly encourage you to attend. Everyone is welcome to participate in this text-based event, regardless of their familiarity with the subject.
If you’d like to find out more about CIRI’s work, you can check out the S&T factsheet or visit their website. You can also follow S&T on Facebook and Twitter for details about future live social media events.