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Summary and Comments

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Category: 

Government

Date: 

1998-01-03 18:12:39

Subject: 

Critical Infrastructure: It Covers Just About Everything

  Link:

http://www.info-sec.com/pccip/web/mission.html

Comment: 

The mission of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection is a very broad mission. It covers just about everything worth controlling in the United States.

The Commission says things are serious:

"The infrastructures on which America depends are vulnerable to potentially debilitating natural disasters or physical attacks that threaten national security, economic viability or societal well being. Moreover, the dependence of the critical infrastructures on the flow of information -- within and among other infrastructures, and between infrastructure companies, customers, suppliers and government -- presents a host of vulnerabilities. The full range of vulnerabilities of infrastructure segments to physical and cyber attack has not been considered. Even when vulnerabilities are recognized, the absence of a demonstrated threat often leads to the conclusion that they need not be protected. Further, the interdependence and connectivity of infrastructures make each vulnerable to attack on others."

In this mission statement, unlike the Commission's FAQ [frequently asked questions], there is no reference to the Year 2000 Problem. But, given the fact that y2k appears on the FAQ, it is clear that the Commission regards y2k as a comprehensive threat to the survival of the interconnected infrastructures.

When you read "attack," think Millennium Bug.

The Commission is planning something very, very big. This would worry me a lot more if I thought the Commission and its program could actually survive the Millennium Bug. They won't. They are as dependent on the infrastructures as everything else is.

But make no mistake about it: if y2k produces only a partial breakdown, this Commission will become the clearing house for a comprehensive system of economic controls.

* * * * * *

The President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection has been tasked to bring together the combined forces of the government and private sector to develop a strategy for protecting and assuring the continued operation of this nation's critical infrastructures. These include telecommunications, electrical power systems, gas and oil transportation, banking and finance, transportation, water supply systems, emergency services (including medical, police, fire, and rescue) and continuity of government. . . .

The Commission will examine physical and cyber threats to the critical infrastructures, as well as the effects of natural disasters. The Commission will identify and leverage on-going initiatives at federal, state and local levels, in industry, and throughout society that address infrastructure vulnerabilities, threats, and related issues. It will then integrate these initiatives and results into the formulation of realistic national assurance strategies.

Absolute infrastructure protection and assurance is unrealistic and unaffordable; consequently, the Commission will prioritize its efforts. It will identify the critical elements of infrastructure, define probable threats, and assess the feasibility of protection and assurance options from a range of perspectives -- economic, social, legal, and international. Furthermore, it will strive to ensure that proposed solutions can keep pace with evolving threats in a rapidly changing technological environment.

Determining the best protection and assurance options requires working closely with all levels of government and the private sector. The Commission will draw on the interests and capabilities of corporate America, concerned trade groups, and private citizens. . . .

The Commission will identify and categorize potential threats to critical infrastructures. The range of threats -- including aggressor nations, terrorists, criminals, disgruntled employees and computer hackers -- will be considered. . . .

The Commission will concentrate on threats with the greatest potential to disrupt or disable critical infrastructures and information systems. The evolution of technology and diffusion of enabling knowledge and information will be considered in projecting future threats to critical infrastructures.

Identify vulnerabilities within and among critical infrastructures.

The infrastructures on which America depends are vulnerable to potentially debilitating natural disasters or physical attacks that threaten national security, economic viability or societal well being. Moreover, the dependence of the critical infrastructures on the flow of information -- within and among other infrastructures, and between infrastructure companies, customers, suppliers and government -- presents a host of vulnerabilities. The full range of vulnerabilities of infrastructure segments to physical and cyber attack has not been considered. Even when vulnerabilities are recognized, the absence of a demonstrated threat often leads to the conclusion that they need not be protected. Further, the interdependence and connectivity of infrastructures make each vulnerable to attack on others. . . .

Identifying options alone does not fulfill the Commission's charter. A strategy for protecting critical infrastructures and assuring their continuity and reconstitution is required. Toward this end, the Commission will develop and apply criteria for the prioritization of protection and assurance strategies, both infrastructure-unique and general. Additionally, priorities will be assigned to vital elements within critical infrastructures based on sensitivity, vulnerability and potential impact on the nation. The strategy will reflect the interdependent nature of the nation's infrastructures, and their reliance on technologies developed, operated and owned outside specific infrastructure segments.

Link: 

http://www.info-sec.com/pccip/web/mission.html

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