By: National Protection & Programs Directorate Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary, Chris Krebs
On March 1, I had the privilege of joining hundreds of senior executives from across government and industry at the 2018 Critical Infrastructure Summit to discuss threats to critical infrastructure and how the nation is addressing these threats. With so many influential leaders in the room, we were able to engage in thought-provoking conversation on important topics such as cybersecurity, soft target security, global trends in critical infrastructure, the intersection of cybersecurity and critical infrastructure, as well as a look at the lessons learned from the response and recovery efforts related to the historic 2017 hurricane season.
Given the essential services that critical infrastructure provides to all Americans, strong partnerships across the government and industry in our infrastructure sectors are vital to our success in mitigating the myriad threats we face today. As a nation, we must work together seamlessly to share information, plan, train and respond to cyber and physical threats.
Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen opened the day by sharing insight into her priorities for the department. Specifically Secretary Nielsen spoke to the importance of DHS’ efforts in hardening soft targets. Those efforts include better focusing security operations that protect large venues and events, streamlining assistance and capacity building efforts, and providing more timely and actionable information to state, local, and private sector partners.
In addition, Secretary Nielsen also spoke to her cybersecurity priorities. Those priorities include addressing systemic risk and catastrophic risk through the collective defense model where government and industry work closer together, especially in the area of information sharing. Protecting the civilian federal cyber systems and strengthening the cybersecurity of the election infrastructure are also DHS critical cybersecurity priorities.
Following the Secretary’s remarks, I was happy to share my views on legislation pending in Congress (HR 3359) that seeks to change the name of NPPD to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, giving our organization a name that clearly describes the mission. Importantly, this bill is an example of good government, streamlining NPPD by focusing the agency on its increasingly critical risk management mission, cementing an organizational identity, and communicating to partners what it is we actually do.
Also at the summit, we learned about global critical infrastructure trends that are just over the horizon: by 2035 and beyond. The Director of the National Intelligence Council’s Strategic Futures Group, Suzanne Fry, PhD, shared an eye-opening vision of what our world may look like in the near future, based on evolving technology and other factors impacting our critical infrastructure.
At times, the challenges we face may appear overwhelming, but as a unified force we are creating positive partnerships to create more a prepared nation on many fronts. More companies and government partners are coming on board with cybersecurity efforts. Common security practices are helping to create safer places for us to shop, enjoy entertainment, and participate at major sporting events. We are leveraging technology and anticipating how threats might evolve so we build the capability today that we will need tomorrow.
Collectively, we have the power to face down even the greatest threats that the nation’s critical infrastructure faces, by investing in security, sharing information and remaining vigilant.
The 2018 Critical Infrastructure Summit is a meeting of the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC) which supports implementation of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan through the Sector Partnership Model.
CIPAC provides a legal framework under which private sector partners may voluntarily collaborate with Federal Government partners on critical infrastructure efforts. CIPAC activities include: planning and implementing infrastructure protection and resilience programs; coordinating operational activities, including incident response and recovery; and assisting in the development of national infrastructure policies, plans, and programs.
For more information about the efforts across the National Protection and Programs Directorate, visit www.DHS.gov/NPPD.