The Interdependencies of Three of the Critical Infrastructure Sectors
The transportation systems sector, financial services sector, and the healthcare and public health sector have interdependent relationships. The healthcare and public health sector and the financial service sector portray interdependencies to achieve sustainable healthcare. For example, public healthcare institutions require funds from insurance companies to support and control healthcare service deliveries by paying the healthcare organization the equivalent of services provided to the insured. An insurance company will release money to cater to the medical needs of its client depending on the package of the customer (Vu, White, Kelley, Hopper, & Liu, 2016). The collaboration between financial services and the healthcare and public sectors facilitate growth and development in both industries to safeguard the quality of life of the insured. For instance, the alliance between hospitals with different insurance providers collaborate by distributing risk and resources for the sake of the insured client (Vu et al., 2016). Conversely, in case of maximized healthcare cover limit, the insured can borrow money from banks to facilitate the remaining amount required by a hospital. Some healthcare facilities borrow money from financial institutions to promote programs, which generate income. Overall, the discussed examples depict the relevance and interdependence between the two sectors not only for their benefit but to help people access services, to meet their needs.
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Interdependencies also exist between the transportation systems sector and the financial services sector. Banking institutions receive and transfer money from different sources to facilitate the active exchange of the commodity (Lewis, 2014). For instance, a local bank can transport money to and from the central bank using tracks. In such a case, a good infrastructure is required to ensure the safety of the tracks and meet client demands including but not limited to services such as on a counter or ATM money withdrawal and depositing.
The transportation sector and the healthcare and public health sector interdepend on each other to support the services offered by both industries. For example, hospitals depend on good cars and roads to facilitate patient movement in cases of emergencies (Lewis, 2014). Ambulances respond to medical emergencies in homes, accidents that occur at the road, or in the event of disasters towards helping the injured. The ambulances have sirens to indicate emergency cases, which signals other automobiles to provide leeway for the vehicle in the case of traffic. Other transportation systems such as helicopter ambulances respond to remote areas without proper healthcare facilities to transport patients to nearby medical organizations where patients receive treatment for their ailments. In such a case, the healthcare and transportation industries collaborate their resources to satisfy customer needs, which prove the validity of interdependencies between the two sectors (Lewis, 2014).
According to Spellman (2019), the transportation sector provides fuel or energy to hospitals and financial institutions to supplement electricity in case of blackouts. Banks also finance the road infrastructure to control the flow of traffic both on ground and air to benefit healthcare service facilities and financial institutions (Spellman, 2019). Such interdependence should encourage leaders in three critical infrastructure to collaborate and share information to facilitate their growth and development. Governments should support vital infrastructures by implementing policies, which protect their involvements in sustainable development. Eventually, international expansion will propel in nations that support such interdependence based on the positive outcome they portray.
Critical Infrastructure Assets Prioritization
Homeland security department works with other Government agencies and the private sector in protecting the security, economy, and well-being of the citizenry. The homeland security department prepares for and mitigates damages from various security threats such as terrorism and cyber-attacks, gathers and disseminates intelligence on countering such attacks, and coordinates responses to hurricanes, floods, and other disasters such as disease outbreaks. It remains essential to understand how homeland security department prioritizes critical infrastructure assets in the transport systems, financial services, and the healthcare and public health sectors amidst the scarce availability of resources and expertise.
Transportation Systems Sector
Under its agency of Transport Security Administration (TSA), homeland security makes the traveling experience safe for passengers by detecting and eliminating common security threats within the transport infrastructures like the airports, highways, railroads, buses, ports, pipelines and postal and shipping systems. Investing in assets such as surveillance systems, fencing, and access barriers helps the department in performing its duties (Alperen, 2017). The TSA department invests on comprehensive security systems, identifies vulnerabilities and gaps in security, and develops and manages policies that protect passengers. Specialists within the TSA departments work with other security agencies at checkpoints in screening passengers and their languages. Behavior specialists undergo exclusive training the art of monitoring the passengers’ behavior applying the skills in implementing observation technique policy. Financial Services Sector
Cyber-attacks to the processes and technologies in financial institutions pose threats to sensitive information that affects the economy. Most institutions have systems and products accessed online, and the homeland security works closely with stakeholders in these institutions and supports research and development initiatives that protect the physical and electronic infrastructure of the financial services. The homeland security department regulates business information technology protocols and guarantees the safety of networks and computer systems by analyzing cyber threats and vulnerabilities, issuing of threat warnings, and coordinating responses to cyber (Spellman, 2019). Further, their mandate in managing physical security protocols ensures the testing of software applications used in financial transactions, proper identification, authentication and authorization of customers intending to access the economic systems, and preventing access of sensitive information by malicious codes, malware, and hackers through data-centric protection services. Assets within the financial sector include deposit, consumer credit, and payment systems, credit and liquidity products, investment products; and risk-transfer products including insurance.
Healthcare and Public Health Sector
The homeland security department implements the healthcare and public health sector critical infrastructure protection program in protecting services and functions of healthcare and public health that negatively affect the citizenry and nation if breached (Alperen, 2017). Collaboration between the department, the Government and the private sectors implements policies within the national infrastructure protection plan that helps them prepare and respond to threats by providing essential health services during and after disasters using the available supplies and services. Homeland security prioritizes on investing on the capable and qualified workforce, building up-to-date data and information systems and relying on agencies skilled in assessing and responding to public health needs as the critical infrastructures within the healthcare and public health sectors. Through robust cyber operations, the department gathers information from partners like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and uses this data in diagnosing and investigating health hazards in the community. Further, they enlighten, educate, and empower people about health issues. The department also researches for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.
Measures to Ensure Continuity of Operations
Continuity of Operations (COOP) denotes the efforts applied by individual industrial sectors to support the regular performance of Primary Mission Essential Functions (PMEFs) despite different emergencies. The authorities managing and leading organizations in the three industries implement different action plans to ensure COOP. The measures for consideration include but not limited to delegation of authority, supporting the continuity of facilities, maintaining communication, and regular training.
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The three selected sectors maintain delegation of authority as a requirement to ensure COOP. Delegating authority guarantees leadership will continue despite the existence of an emergency (What is continuity of operations? n.d.). For example, banking institutions have Chief Executive Officers CEOs and Vice CEOs. In case of emergencies such as sickness, death, or any situation impeding the CEO from leading the company effectively, the Vice CEO takes office to ensure continuity. Similarly, the idea of delegating authority allows a leader to divide work and subdividing power to the subordinates, which safeguards that work will progress irrespective of predicaments. Overall, the subdivision of power remains a vital measure applied by the sectors to maintain their growth and development.
Supporting the continuity of facilities remains an effective way of promoting COOP. There remains a need for alternative facilities used by organizations in the identified sectors to facilitate COOP (What is continuity of operations? n.d.). For example, advancement in technology has enabled doctors to provide services using telemedicine, telehealth, or telecare (Alverson, Krupinski, Erps, Rowe, & Weinstein, 2019). In today’s society, people can consult doctors through Skype or using other mass media communication channels available to them in case the consumer cannot is in a remote or different location from the physician. Equally, stakeholders in the finance and transportation sector can use conference call to hold emergency meetings in case the individuals cannot convene at the same location.
The three sectors maintain communication as a measure to ensure COOP. Communication is critical to the component in the growth and development of any industry. Communication promotes the dissemination of information both internally and externally (What is continuity of operations? n.d.). The three sectors communicate with each other to facilitate production and maintain effective relationships for growth purposes. For example, the finance department of a hospital maintains contact and communication with affiliated banks to facilitate efficient cash flow to pay workers and other non-human resources for the organization. Similarly, finance sectors such as banks maintain communication with transportation industries such as air freight to enable effective booking services for customers who want to travel using different airlines. Therefore, communication must be maintained throughout the three sectors since none of them can exits and grow independently.
Finally, the three sectors practice regular training of their staff as a measure to ensure COOP. Training equips human resources with new or advanced skills and competencies to match the ever-changing dynamics of the respective sectors(What is continuity of operations? n.d.). For instance, computerization of the healthcare sector encourages all staff working in healthcare affiliated organizations to remain informed and competent with technology. The staff should receive training frequently to update their skills because technology advances regularly is not daily. The essence of the training ensures that the workers have the necessary knowledge and expertise to continue operating their businesses and compete effectively with their contenders. Overall, coaching is a necessity, which must be appreciated by all sectors.
Special Considerations for Life and Property
Different special consideration should be made for life and property in case of an attack on the three selected critical infrastructure sectors. Carrying out special considerations demonstrates the need to safeguard life and property following the occurrences of threats targeting a country’s critical infrastructure. For this reason, protection of sensitive information, conducting vulnerability assessments, and global critical infrastructure and key resources CI/KR protection are vital components for concern that must be protected since they could negatively impact life and property in case of an attack on the three mentioned critical infrastructure sectors.
There is a need to safeguard sensitive information about individuals and properties from malicious entities (NIPP, 2013). People and organizations with bad intentions such as terrorist hire spiteful hackers to access a country’s vital information and use the data to cause people to harm or destroy property. For instance, if a radical group plans to damage a city, the leader will delegate authority and work to its team members to find loopholes in systems used by banks towards accessing information and money to fund its course and use to its advantage. Nonetheless, a prepared nation safeguards its financial sector infrastructure by incorporating firewalls into its system and hiring smart and responsive personnel that update the systems regularly from penetration by the hackers. Therefore, governments should collaborate with private companies which have the skills and expertise in the area of need and utilize their resources to protect sensitive information from accessibility by criminals, which could jeopardize the continuity of a nation’s critical infrastructure.
Vulnerability assessment is vital to protect individual and property damage connected to critical infrastructure sectors. The three industries rely on innovative technology and interconnected networks, which increases opportunities for life and property attacks by malicious actors. Vulnerability assessment is conducted to study the cyber threats gaps, which could facilitate or endanger life and property in the event a network attack (NIPP, 2013). For example, if a malware penetrates a hospitals server, the problem could damage hospital property or endanger patients’ lives if the virus interferes with medical treatment schedules and records. Moreover, malicious actors could jeopardize peoples’ lives and damage roads by controlling traffic lights. Conducting vulnerability assessments ensures that all critical infrastructure sectors support integrity and honest relationship based on the participating parties interconnected nature. The three critical infrastructure sectors should embrace information sharing that enables organizations affiliated to the industries to participate in making risk-informed decisions for the benefit of a nation’s security (NIPP, 2013). Overall, assessing and analyzing risks connected to the three critical infrastructures will improve vulnerability evaluations.
Practicing international CI/KR protection is a distinct deliberation undertaken to safeguard life and property in the event of an attack on the three critical infrastructure sectors. At least most if not all countries are prone to cyber-attacks, which originate internally and externally. Vulnerable countries must collaborate to protect their citizens from malicious actors who intend to create divisions among states that work towards improving each other and promoting peace. Practicing international CI/KR allows governments to share information about ways of addressing technology-related vulnerabilities by working with trusted private and government agencies (NIPP, 2013). Such interactions increase opportunities of enhancing integrity and confidentiality in protecting lives, which could be damaged in the case of cyber-attacks from spiteful people or organization that despise developmental concept that does not correspond to their ideologies.
- Alperen, M. J. (2017). Foundations of homeland security: Law and policy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
- Alverson, D. C., Krupinski, E. A., Erps, K. A., Rowe, N. S., & Weinstein, R. S. (2019). The third national telemedicine & telehealth service provider showcase conference: Advancing telehealth partnerships. Telemedicine & e-Health, 25(4), 332-340.
- Lewis, G. T. (2014). Critical infrastructure protection in homeland security: Defending a networked nation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
- NIPP. (2013). Partnering for critical infrastructure security and resilience. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/national-infrastructure-protection-plan-2013-508.pdf
- Spellman, R. F. (2019). Financial services sector protection and homeland security. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Vu, M., White, A., Kelley, V. P., Hopper, J. K. & Liu, C. (2016). Hospital and health plan partnerships: the affordable care act’s impact on promoting health and wellness. American Health and Drug Benefits, 9(5):269-78.
- What is continuity of operations? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/org/ncp/coop_brochure.pdf
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