What’s Critical Infrastructure Protection?

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Critical Infrastructure Protection plans aim to identify and safeguard key resources against threats that affect citizens or economic activity. Plans include information sharing, protection of private sector infrastructure, and analyzing potential threats to technology-based systems and energy resources.

Critical Infrastructure Protection defines national plans to identify and preserve key resources and assets against threats that affect the health and safety of citizens or economic activity. These plans define policies and strategies to prevent, discover, address, and recover from any incident that threatens critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure protection can include communication systems, transportation facilities, electronically stored or delivered information, commerce, and energy resources.

Infrastructure plans often include information sharing within government departments. They also incorporate methods to address the protection of critical infrastructure in the private sector, such as sharing intelligence information with companies that operate gas or oil pipelines. Threats or vulnerabilities that affect a country’s resources can be shared at the federal, state or local levels, depending on the importance of the information. A system for alerting the public to threats to national security often appears in critical infrastructure protection plans.

Security clearance may be required before defense intelligence can be shared. The source of the information is generally kept confidential, especially if the information poses a threat to national or public security. In some countries, different government agencies handle critical infrastructure protection plans in certain areas, such as the department of transport.

Protecting transport infrastructure can include major roads, bridges, railways and pipelines. It also typically deals with air transport, including air traffic control and airport security operations. Protection plans aim to prevent disruption to human travel or commerce, with different activities ranked in order of importance. Employees determine whether a resource is considered critical depending on its purpose, location, and potential damage to the economy if the transport service fails.

Critical infrastructure protection efforts analyze the effects of terrorist attacks on vital resources and vulnerabilities that may exist. Terrorists can use biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons to disrupt vital operations in a country. Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes can also disrupt physical infrastructure or communication capabilities. Riots, political disturbances, pandemics and sabotage represent other threats examined in protection plans.

A growing concern in many countries centers on potential threats to technology-based systems, including satellite networks vital for maintaining communication. Many financial institutions rely on technology to store information that is considered critical to economic activity. Emergency workers responding to natural disasters or accidents also rely on these communication systems to coordinate recovery efforts.

Critical infrastructure protection includes a country’s energy resources. Protection plans typically include safeguards for creating, distributing, and transporting supplies and preserving reserves in storage. These plans may include geothermal and nuclear power plants.

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