The United States is highly interconnected with sophisticated infrastructure. Such infrastructures include roads, railway systems, oil pipelines, dams, and computer networks among other things.
Markedly, most of them are owned by the private sector while others are assets of the federal government. It is essential to protect these critical assets and deter any incapacitation that can result from their damage. Destruction of critical infrastructure can negatively impact on public health, national economy, and security. The Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 (HSPD-7) recognizes the Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) sectors. The HSPD-7 has assigned the role of enhancing protection and responding to threats on the vital assets to Sector-Specific Agencies. The agencies develop programs that ensure that any vulnerabilities to CIKR are identified and protective measures put in place. Damage on any CIKR can cause havoc to other regions apart from the incident location.
For instance, destruction of a dam will mean that areas supplied by water from the dam will be affected. Consequently, if the dam is used to generate electrical energy, then some regions in the United States might experience power outages. The main threat to critical resources and critical infrastructure is a terrorist attack. Multiple extremists’ groups often target the U.S in their opportunistic efforts to inflict pain and damage.
Terrorist attacks are capable of halting the functions of many resources. Cyber-attacks also interfere with information flow and can erase useful data. Malicious people can spread viruses on computer networks thus incapacitating communication. Apart from manmade incidences, natural calamities can also interfere with CIKR.
For example, Hurricane Katrina swept bridges and destroyed electricity supply poles. Wildfires in California have also managed to wreck some CIKR. Various authorities exist purposefully to offer protection to the critical infrastructure in the United States. Such authorities include the National Strategy for Securing Cyberspace, HSPD-7, the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets, and Homeland Security Act of 2002.
The National Infrastructure Protection Plan was formed to ensure that the country’s CIKR is protected from possible attacks from terrorists. NIPP uses different strategies to respond promptly when emergencies, humanmade attacks, and natural disasters occur. NIPP works together with the National Response Framework (NRF) to aid CIKR response, recovery, and protection in the event of hazards. NRF gives guidelines on how interventions should be carried out in when risks present themselves. The structure stipulates roles and principles to follow in national response. The NRF has support annexes which provide how state and private agencies should coordinate and execute supportive tasks during different incidences. Additionally, to ensure that all the processes of coordination, protection, prioritization, and identification of CIKR run seamlessly, there has to be a body that oversees all the tasks.
The Department of Homeland Security is coordinating CIKR protection. DHS protects and shares relevant information with other partners to facilitate protection. The trains and deploys personnel in various sectors to ensure adequate human resource is utilized is utilized to the maximum in protecting and monitoring essential infrastructure.
To ensure that information is protected, DHS creates strategies for communication and implements them at different levels of jurisdiction. To help in incident management are Emergency Support Functions which provide resources and needed aid when carrying out restoration and recovery of areas impacted by an incident. Emergency Support Functions also serve as primary points for addressing CIKR concerns.