Security of critical infrastructure plays a vital role in determining how an organization performs over a long period of time. In the business world a resilient infrastructure is closely knit to the national security of the country of operation, as large scale damage could have far-reaching consequences on the economy and public safety. Worldwide, governments and international bodies have defined standards and strategies to identify and prioritize key assets protection, identify threats, and devise effective prevention and mitigation strategies.
Despite the magnitude of potential casualties and clear guidelines, organizations have often failed to prevent catastrophic events, thus failing their own business objectives for growth and exposing vulnerable populations to life-changing circumstances. In most cases, the failures originated from poorly designed risk management strategies, which worked as ineffectively as sand banks do against raging sea waves. Lately the scenario has worsened, as threats have compounded, because opponents have resorted to using unconventional means to steal or destroy strategic resources. These non-traditional, man-made sources of infrastructure security threats, which broadly include terrorism, cyber-attacks and vandalism, have outgrown the risks originating from natural disasters.
Infrastructure security risks vary based on industry types and are also unique to sectors within a particular industry. For example, healthcare establishments face the risk of a breach in patients’ records security or worse, accidental harm to the occupants, whereas chemical facilities are vulnerable to terrorist induced hazardous chemical release. Heterogeneous infrastructure of the petroleum industry poses unique threats to each of the sectors such as exploration, refining and transportation. As all industry-wide and sector-wide assets in different industries face unique vulnerabilities, the prevention and mitigation strategies within the larger risk management framework should also be distinctive and adaptable to the evolving threats.
For infrastructure security, the risk management strategy involves five main functions:
Planning and preparedness: Planning involves staying vigilant with a set of established guidelines to identify, assess and avert risks. Although infrastructure security episodes are often unpredictable, much can be done with prior planning governed by the acceptance that disasters don’t strike at convenient times.
Prevent and avoid: Risk is intrinsic to businesses and adequate exposure to risks yield benefits. This tenet stands true to all business disciplines wherever risk management applies, but it does not apply to risks in infrastructure security. Opportunities in infrastructure risks are almost unreal and the enormity of potential harm will always outweigh the probable gains, if any. Therefore, businesses are well advised to prevent and avoid infrastructure threats.
Emphasize on operational efficiency to respond quickly: Maintaining a high level of operational efficiency is essential to critical infrastructure security. It facilitates quick response when a disaster or security breach strikes, due either to internal or external opponents. Operational competence also supports implementation of best practices to eliminate the risks and should include protective strategy which can be physical, technological, personnel and procedural.
Recovery plan: Recovery plan involves measures to restore the damage. An efficient disaster recovery readiness plan helps to fast track production resumption and immediate business continuity.
Share and reinforce: Share the organization’s initiatives to support infrastructure security and resilience with all stakeholders through all available channels. Finally, reinforce the role your company plays in infrastructure security by incorporating the guidelines provided by national and international authorities to cultivate a risk-aware culture in the organization from the top to the bottom.
Safeguarding against infrastructure security risks requires multiple layers of protection and different stages of evaluation. The aforementioned practices will help to stay functional without disruption, but it is of paramount importance for companies to select appropriate security solutions designed to meet the evolving threats. Organizations should collaborate with a preferred partner and choose a technological program that acts as an enabler to delivering business success.
To gain decisive advantage, it is important to implement risk management software expertise during initial infrastructure planning. Incorporation of such tools on existing facilities doesn’t always yield the expected outcome. Also, delays in implementing security and control tools could expose your business to evolving threats of an unpredictable nature.
The overall responsibility of securing critical infrastructure lies with the governments, but private sector business entities need to put adequate practices in place that guard against infrastructure security risks. An enterprise with an integrated approach will successfully mitigate the effects of infrastructure casualties. It will slowly but surely advance its security posture before reaching a stage where it can eliminate risks that business establishments face due to evolving threats capable of inflicting irrevocable damage.
The use of a proven, yet simple to use, product such as Risk Management Studio has increased the effectiveness of risk strategies on a global scale for small to large enterprises. The application is free to try, easy to set up and start using, optimized for the latest international standards, including but not limited to, ISO 27001:2013 and PCI DSS 3.0. Send your inquiries and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.