Today we thought we’d have a little educational session about critical infrastructure and the NIPP. What on earth is the NIPP, you ask? It’s the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, of course!
Critical infrastructure is defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as those assets, systems, and networks that underpin American society. Because our nation’s safety rests on the foundation of these critical infrastructures, the DHS created a plan (the NIPP) to manage the risks from significant threats and hazards to them. The DHS has identified the following as critical infrastructure:
- commercial facilities
- critical manufacturing
- defense industrial base
- emergency services
- financial services
- food and agriculture
- government facilities
- healthcare and public health
- information technology
- nuclear reactors, materials, and waste
- water and wastewater systems
There is a great deal of dependencies between the various critical infrastructures, so the safety of one sector helps with the safety of the others. The image below comes from the Water Sector-Specific Plan: An Annex to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and shows some of the interconnectedness the water and wastewater sector has with other sectors. For example, the water sector uses electricity from the electric power sector for maintenance, repair, the functioning of their SCADA systems, and the functioning of their treatment, lift, and pump stations. In turn, the electric power sector uses water from the water sector for things like cooling.
In fact, the water sector shares dependencies with most of the other critical infrastructure sectors, principally chemical, energy, food and agriculture, public health, transportation, dams, information technology, and emergency services. What this means is that a breach in the water sector could have negative consequences for any or all of these other critical sectors and vice versa. If a successful attack were carried out on the energy sector, the water sector would be unable to receive energy and thus lose their ability to carry out their operations and water treatment. A breach in the water sector would cause problems in the food and agriculture sector (which uses water for their own operations and functioning), and ultimately the consumer who depends on the food and agriculture sector for their food.
The NIPP is a detailed plan with numerous sector-specific plans; we get it that this may not be the mot interesting information you’ve come across on the Invictus Consulting blog. That’s okay! If you’ve made it this far in this post, consider yourself a bit more informed about our nation’s security.