What is Critical Infrastructure? - HSPD-7 & Protected Industries

Instructor: Andrew Leveridge

Andrew has worked as an IT contractor in the field for over 7 years and has a Masters degree in Information Security and Assurance.

This lesson explains what critical infrastructure is and examines the workings of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, also identifying various industries regulated under its purview.

Identifying and Securing Operations Important to Society

In this lesson, we will take a look at the industries, services, and government operations used in maintaining a healthy, working society. Without these businesses, integral to many people's lives today, important fields like medicine, agriculture, energy production, and telecommunications might not have enabled people to do great things like putting people in space or innovating the life-changing Internet as we know it today.

Let's start off first by defining what the critical infrastructure that people rely on in our everyday lives actually is.

What is Critical Infrastructure?

Critical infrastructure means the industries, business operations, and services that are so incredibly vital to a functioning, modern society that without them it cannot function - or at least unable to effectively compete globally. Destruction or impaired functioning of such infrastructure might cause dire consequences like loss of life or economic recessions, or great damage to national security interests.

Examples of critical nationwide infrastructure include:

  • Agriculture (food production)
  • Water (drinking water)
  • Public Health (hospitals, medicinal research, etc.)
  • Emergency Services (police, fire, poison control)
  • Telecommunications (telephone, fax services, even the Internet itself)
  • Energy (coal, oil, nuclear, etc. energy production)
  • Transportation (roads, shipping, aeronautics, etc.)
  • Finance (banking)
  • Chemical Industry (pharmacies, medicine production, chemical hazards containment)
  • Mail Services (the postal service)

The lack or loss of these services could cause widespread panic or disruption in our everyday lives and grind the national and business economies to a halt. The United States, however, has numerous plans, contingencies, and directives to counter either intentional or unintentional service interruptions, for example the government's HSPD-7 statute.

What is HSPD-7?

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 (HSPD-7) is a policy that established the United States' post-9/11 national policy for the identification and protection of critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications or public safety services. It was signed on December 17, 2003 by U.S. President George W. Bush, but has since been revoked by the newer Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21).

Under HSPD-7, the government enables technologies that protect all critical infrastructure and key government and economic resources, including technology that permits countering attacks on these important industries.

HSPD-7 and PPD-21 are designed to prevent misuse and destruction of these key industries. However, a secondary goal is to create and foster developments that can minimize the impact if an adverse event actually occurs.

HSPD-7 added agriculture to the list of protected industries, since the ability to produce and obtain food is vital to maintaining the health and life of all people. However, since this policy has been superseded by PPD-21, numerous changes to the national policy have been made.

PPD-21 modified the previous version of the national policy by:

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