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This week’s readings served to illustrate the many ways our country depends upon its critical infrastructure and the manner in which its various sectors are dependent upon one another. Applying and analyzing the information you gathered from those readings, supplemented with your own experience and expertise, please respond to the following:

1. Define/describe critical infrastructure and its relevance to homeland security.

2. Offer a detailed means of attack upon one of the following critical infrastructure sectors. Use the links provided in the e-reserve to locate the sector specific plans for the following:

Chemical Sector

Energy Sector

Food and Agriculture Sector

Healthcare and Public Health Sector

Transportation Services Sector

Water and Wastewater Systems Sector

Be sure to support your responses with information from the assigned and available readings.

Articles for weekly assignment:


Emergency Services Sector-Specific Plan: https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/nipp-ssp-emerg… (pages 7-11)

Energy Sector-Specific Plan: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publicatio… (pages 1-5)

Chemical sector-specific plan: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publicatio… (pages v-7)

National Infrastructure Protection Plan: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publicatio… (pages i -14)

Instructions: Your initial post should be at least 350 words.

Please respond to at least 2 other students. Responses should be a minimum of 150 words to each student and include direct questions.

Forum posts are graded on timeliness, relevance, knowledge of the weekly readings, and the quality of original ideas. Sources utilized to support answers are to be cited in accordance with the APA writing style by providing a general parenthetical citation (reference the author, year and page number) within your post. Refer to grading rubric for additional details concerning grading criteria.

Student #1 Christopher

Hello again class,

This week’s lesson focused on the nation’s critical infrastructure and the vulnerabilities it has. Our country’s critical infrastructure is the entities, facilities, services, and people we rely on for our necessities, our safety, and way of life as a first world country and as Americans. I like the way the Department of Homeland Security describes in on their website, “…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…We know it as the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that moves us, the stores we shop in, and the communication systems we rely on to stay in touch with friends and family.” (DHS, 2017) Because there are so many entities that make up our the critical infrastructure, it is broken down into 16 sectors: Chemical, Commercial Facilities, Communications, Critical Manufacturing, Dams, Defense Industrial Base Sector, Emergency Services, Energy, Financial Services, Food and Agriculture, Government Facilities, Healthcare and Public Health, Information Technology, Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste, Transportation Systems, Water and Wastewater Systems.

Every sector has different issues when it comes to physical security. However, every sector shares similar vulnerabilities with their cyber security. For the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector, a cyber attack could costs millions of dollars or even lives. Most water utilities systems (i.e. a dam operating system, drinking water systems, sewage treatment facility, ect.) are comprised of two major components: Information Technology (IT) and Operational technology (OT). IT is the normal computer systems linked to the internet for email, billing, bookkeeping, and desk work while OT is the control systems operated by engineers to provide the physical function of the water facility. It has become more and more common for utilities to link their OT systems to the internet and their IT systems to save time and money. The true vulnerability when it comes to the cyber security of IT systems is the human. Dr. Jane LeClair, COO for the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College explains it best, “…(cyber attacks are) accomplished by employing a variety of false pretenses with a single objective: convince an employee to click on a link containing a virus, visit a malicious site, or even provide access to company hardware.” (Lesczinski, 2018) Once the hacker has access to a water organization’s mainframe, they can find ways to shut down water treatment facilities, over pressurize underground water pipes, cut off a population’s water supply, or even open up the floodgates of dams. In 2013, an Iranian computer expert linked to spy agencies hacked into a system that operates Bowman Dam in upstate New York. Although the hacker only looked for information about the dam’s operating system and did not operate the controls, this incident was a wake up call for the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector and really for all sectors of the critical infrastructure. (Walton, B. 2017) Overall, an attack of this nature carried out on any sector of the critical infrastructure could lead to catastrophic results.


Department of Homeland Security. (2017, December 08). What Is Critical Infrastructure? Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/what-critical-infrastructure

Lesczinski, M. (2018, January 31). Is Human Error Biggest Cybersecurity Vulnerability? Retrieved from https://life.excelsior.edu/human-error-biggest-cybersecurity-vulnerability/

Walton, B. (2017, March 27). Walter Sector Prepares for Cyberattacks. Retrieved from https://www.circleofblue.org/2016/world/water-sector-prepares-cyberattacks/

Student #2 Andrew

Hello Class,

A critical infrastructure in a nutshell is an important asset to the government that if delayed, destroyed, or neutralized it will hinder the safety, productivity and well being of the American public and territory. That is what I Surmised from the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). I also learned that there are 16 sectors of critical infrastructure and the government classifies three areas that can be considered critical: Physical which is pertaining to the actual facilities, Human which is pertaining to large mass of people or specialized group of people, and Cyber which is broad in nature but covers internal and external networks. (Moteff, J. D. 2015, June 10)

Critical infrastructure(CI) reminds me of an ecosystem in nature. For example a jungle has many parts to it’s system, but some may be more critical than others. Oxygen, water and the sun are important obviously, but those aren’t infrastructures. I would say the tree system is critical providing housing, shade, and food. If something disastrous happened to this CI then the whole jungle may be at risk for extinction. Similar to the water company providing water to a downtown area. These places are critical to the system and must be protected as such.

Critical infrastructure relates to homeland security because it is a part of homeland security itself. It can be the electric company providing power to the alarm system at the Federal Reserve’s to the communications tower providing Border Patrol with communication on the border.

I chose to look into the water company as I don’t know much about the security and preventative disaster plans. The plan is comprehensive and well thought out in my opinion. Perhaps because I never thought of the waters sectors security plan. The smartest move I have seen is the mass spread of smaller water facilities providing a small number of homes. This makes contamination and attacks much harder to effect a huge area or number of people. They breakdown risks as most significant, high, and medium. Briefly the most significant are natural disasters, cyber attacks and management of a water loss in an area. High risks include intentional malicious attacks and huge economic impact on preparation and response. Medium risks include: lack of mutual support, communication and technology errors/malfunctions.(Department of Homeland Security. 2015) I guess the most major part of the water sector is actual supply of water. They have plans for that as well. They supplement areas that need water with places that have excess.


Department of Homeland Security. (2015). Water Sector-Specific Plan. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Moteff, J. D. (2015, June 10). Critical infrastructures: Background, policy, and implementation. Congressional Research Service. Report RL30153.

Department of Homeland Security. (2013). National infrastructure protection plan. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

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