Securing Critical Infrastructure: Concerns for Businesses

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Securing critical infrastructure is a key concern for private-sector businesses, governments, and compliance agencies around the world. That’s because any incident that affects critical infrastructure can ripple beyond one business or government agency to threaten public safety.


Critical infrastructure specifically applies to any service sector that plays a role in sustaining life and safety. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) lists 16 sectors that are part of  U.S. critical infrastructure. National defense, emergency services, healthcare, transportation systems and energy are a few examples — all of which include government and private-sector entities.


This article will explore what it means to secure critical infrastructure, why it’s essential, the challenges that exist and factors you need to consider to achieve success.

Why It’s Important to Secure Critical Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure protection is essential for the safety and security of citizens, businesses, and government operations. The effort includes safeguarding these 16 sectors against potential cyber risks, data breaches or physical attacks, and, consequently, reducing the risks posed by hackers, terrorists, natural disasters or other supply chain vulnerabilities.


Advances in technology have helped bolster safety, but sometimes they’re also exploited by threat actors. In 2021 a hacker gained access to a public water system in Florida and with a few clicks changed the chemicals in the water supply to a degree that would have endangered the public — if an employee hadn’t detected it in time. 


Technology risks can also come from within, like having outdated open-source components in your software ecosystem that you didn’t know about. Having visibility into and risk management strategies for software vulnerabilities is becoming a major priority for ensuring the security of critical infrastructure.

To learn more about best practices for cyber supply chain risk management (C-SCRM), view our webinar where experts discuss mitigating cybersecurity threats to supply chains.

Clearly, the stakes for businesses that operate in critical infrastructure sectors are particularly high. Their assets are of paramount importance to their customers and, in many cases, are fundamental components of national security. 

‘Critical’ Alignment Is Necessary

Securing critical infrastructure comes with its own set of challenges — a major one being determining what’s critical. There’s often a lack of visibility in subtiers of supply chains, for example, and this can create blind spots for risk management. 


Moreover, as different stakeholders — often from the public sector and private companies — have different opinions and interests, getting a consensus on which suppliers to prioritize as “critical” can be difficult. This means that rather than achieving a comprehensive view of security needs, important segments may be left unprotected due to a segmented approach.


The sheer complexity of the task and the difficulty in identifying threats and vulnerabilities within a supply chain can be overwhelming. Exiger’s technology can help organizations identify risks buried deep within supply chains, customer bases, and third-party ecosystems — equipping them to address these risks head-on.

Four Factors for Risk Management in Critical Infrastructure

All of the sectors in critical infrastructure are connected, and all have a global supply chain presence. To protect the supply chains, there are several factors to consider, including defining a threshold of acceptable risk, implementing a four-part framework, understanding key dependencies and being aware of limitations.

1. Defining a Threshold

When looking to secure your critical infrastructure it is important to have an understanding of the level of acceptable risk. With threats ever-changing, having a clear idea of where your organization stands in terms of risk tolerance is key in deciding which solutions are most suitable. This can be reviewed through risk assessments or threat models that look at the scope and scale of potential risks in your business or organization.

2. A Four-Part Framework

A four-part framework can form the foundation for assessing and managing risk to stay on top of the threat landscape by continuously building resilience in supply chains.


First, when it comes to public safety and emergency services, organizations should focus on assessing risks related to potential areas of physical or cyber attack that could disrupt public safety or harm emergency response operations. It’s also important to consider any potential threats caused by acts of terrorism or sabotage that could potentially harm the public or interfere with their ability to receive essential services.


Second, organizations should evaluate risks such as water and food supply contamination as well as the implications of these risks on public health and welfare. They should also assess the risk posed by environmental disasters and extreme weather events which could lead to significant ramifications for healthcare systems and disaster relief efforts.


Third, the security lens should also evaluate the various points of entry for malicious actors which could lead to disruption or damage to services. Failure could affect information security, transportation, communication systems, energy providers, and other utilities essential for citizens’ day-to-day lives.


Finally, when it comes to financial stability and economic health, businesses must evaluate threats related to market disruption (due to financial crimes) and identify strategies that can help protect against financial losses due to cyber incidents (such as ransomware). Furthermore, companies must be aware of any potential supply chain disruptions due to political instability or escalating trade tensions — all of which can lead to prolonged economic downturns if left unaddressed.

3. Key Dependencies

It is important to understand and secure outside key dependencies that rely on an organization’s systems or processes. This includes telecommunications, electricity, data and cargo.


  • Telecommunications ensure connectivity across all facets of critical infrastructure and allow efficient public transportation networks and communication between cities. This is why measures must be implemented to protect telecommunication networks from potential threats.
  • Electric power grids provide energy throughout the entire country. They must be reliable and resilient, requiring continual investments in technologies for continuous monitoring and improved cybersecurity protocols to reduce risk.
  • Data is a key part of all networks and systems today, as well as a valuable target for cybercriminals. As part of securing critical infrastructure, it’s important to ensure that data is protected from potential malware and other attacks by implementing firewalls and robust data security policies across all networks.
  • Lastly, the ability to move goods safely and securely is essential. Secure cargo shipping processes should include strict security protocols at every step of the shipping process to ensure safety.

4. Limitations

When it comes to securing critical infrastructure, there are several limitations to take into consideration. In metropolitan areas, there can be a lack of infrastructure investment due to a limited budget and resources. This can lead to aging infrastructure that is increasingly vulnerable and costly to maintain.


Population density can present problems for some cities and counties in terms of service delivery. Limited personnel and resources for police, fire departments and healthcare centers can prove challenging for those responsible for the day-to-day operations of critical infrastructure sectors.


Governance models and delivery of services are also key factors when it comes to the effective operation of these systems, as they often affect the way municipalities collect and allocate taxes or resources such as housing subsidies or environmental controls. And generating sufficient tax revenue or other forms of public funding is essential to secure the required capital investments in critical infrastructure projects.

Exiger Helps to Secure Critical Infrastructure Sectors

Increased globalization, unwieldy supply chains and the high level of interconnectedness also present major challenges in securing critical infrastructure sectors. To identify and remediate risk across every supply chain node, AI and machine learning need to be applied at scale.


This is where Exiger can help. The 1Exiger platform is at the forefront of supply chain risk management for critical infrastructure sectors, arming government entities and Fortune 250 companies with the intelligence to detect, quantify and mitigate risk. Our proprietary technology and AI-driven screening can rapidly detect threats across every supplier in your ecosystem.


Our DDIQ platform uses AI and natural language processing to detect virtually any type of disruption in the larger global ecosystem. Each risk situation is easily digestible, highly relevant and customized to your needs.


To learn how Exiger can help your supply chain risk management, contact us.


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