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What is critical infrastructure?

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This is the final week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the theme for this week is protecting our critical infrastructure.  You may be wondering what is our critical infrastructure and why should we care?  A successful attack against those who defend the critical infrastructure could be devastating.

So what exactly is critical infrastructure?  The Department of Homeland Security’s website answers the question so well I will not try to paraphrase it but quote it directly.

“Critical infrastructure is the backbone of our nation’s economy, security and health. We know it as the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that moves us, and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family.

Critical infrastructure are the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”

Have you thought about what it would be like if our energy smart grid was attacked and we had no electricity for a day, week, or month?  What if the banking system we all use was shut down and we could not access the ATMs to get any money?  Our critical infrastructure has become a necessity so it is no wonder cyber criminals are starting to see it as valuable targets.

The overall theme of our shared responsibility continues with our critical infrastructure.  We all share the responsibility of keeping it secure by reporting any suspicious activity, making plans with your friends, family, and colleagues to prepare for disasters, and by maintaining an awareness of the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure.

As October comes to an end, we still must practice good security habits to help us stay safe online.

 

Christina Bonds

Christina Bonds is an Application Specialist in the Web Technology department at Elon University.

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