Critical Infrastructure Security - Assignment 1: Industrial System Vulnerabilities

Instructor: Ryan Villard
If you have a College Accelerator membership and are seeking college credit for this course, you must submit an assignment and pass the proctored final exam. You must submit your assignment before registering for the final. Below you will find prompts and instructions for submitting your assignment.

About this Assignment

In this course, you have learned about critical infrastructure systems, and the importance of securing these vital infrastructures. All systems are vulnerable, but industrial networks are considered critical infrastructure, and threats against them can be far more devastating.


For this assignment, you will write a 2,000 to 2,250 word-essay that identifies an industry system, explores its vulnerabilities, and describes mitigation/control methods specific to these vulnerabilities.

  • Identify and describe an industrial network (e.g., nuclear power plant, chemical plant, electrical grid, refinery)
  • Describe three common vulnerabilities to this type of system
  • Explain the best method for implementing NIST controls from NIST 800-53

Overview of Critical Infrastructure

The first part of this assignment is to select and describe an industrial network, such as a nuclear power plant, chemical plant, electrical grid, or a refinery. This section must include a brief 200 word executive summary that introduces your essay's topics and a description of the critical infrastructure you chose, which should be between 400-500 words.

Identifying Vulnerabilities

After you've introduced your industrial network, you must identify and describe three vulnerabilities this type of network may face. For each vulnerability, you must describe what it is, its origin (why it exists in the industrial network), how it could be exploited, and what the potential effects of its exploitation are.

NIST Controls

In this section of the paper, you will provide analysis of five NIST-defined controls that will help mitigate the previous vulnerabilities. This section should include a detailed analysis of each control and how it mitigates your chosen industrial system's vulnerabilities, and compare and contrast the controls, identifying and explaining any conflicts between them.


While you should draw upon most of the lessons in this course, the following may be particularly helpful when completing this assignment:

Any sources you use for this assignment, whether external or, must be cited on a reference page that uses APA format. If you are not sure how to use APA to cite sources, see the following lessons:

Formatting & Using Sources

Please write your paper in the APA format. You may refer to the course material for supporting evidence, but you must also use at least 5 credible outside sources and cite them using APA format. Please include a mix of both primary and secondary sources, with at least one source from a scholarly peer-reviewed journal. If you use any lessons as sources, please also cite them in APA (including the lesson title and instructor's name).

  • Primary sources are first-hand accounts such as interviews, advertisements, speeches, company documents, statements, and press releases published by the company in question.
  • Secondary sources come from peer-reviewed scholarly journals, such as the International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection and International Journal of Smart Grid and Clean Energy. You may use sources like JSTOR, Google Scholar, and IEEE to find articles from these journals. Secondary sources may also come from reputable websites with .gov, .edu, or .org in the domain. (Wikipedia is not a reputable source, though the sources listed in Wikipedia articles may be acceptable.)

If you're unsure about how to use APA format to cite your sources, please see the following lessons:

Grading Rubric

Your assignment will be graded based on the following rubric:

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