CI – what is it actually? (Part 1)

CI – what is it actually? (Part 1)

8. October 2018

Critical infrastructures (CI) are organizational and physical structures and facilities of such vital importance to a nation’s society and economy that their failure or degradation would result in sustained supply shortages, significant disruption of public safety and security, or other dramatic consequences (source: German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) https://www.kritis.bund.de/SubSites/Kritis/EN/introduction/introduction_node.html). After all, every one of us without exception would be lost if no electricity came from the socket, no drinking water flowed from the tap and IT and transport networks stopped working – they’re all vital lifelines in our society (source: Schutz Kritischer Infrastrukturen – Risiko- und Krisenmanagement; May 2011, only available in German).

Always at the ready – defense system for CI

Unfortunately, critical infrastructures are exposed to all kinds of risks and hazards: extreme weather conditions as well as human or technical failure. If part or all of a critical infrastructure breaks down, this can have significant impacts on public services, economic activity and indeed large sections of the population (source: Schutz Kritischer Infrastrukturen – Risiko- und Krisenmanagement; May 2011). The availability, safety and security of IT systems plays a central and immensely important role when it comes to critical, vulnerable infrastructures.

Source: Amazon

To make this easier to understand, let’s take a brief look at the human organism. Here, too, it’s vitally important to know your body’s enemies: bacteria, viruses, dirt particles, toxic or otherwise harmful substances. We learned all about them in the French animated television series called “Once upon a time … Life”.

CI on the path to global digitalization

Designed to be suitable for children, the series taught us that there’s a time for everything and that innovations and changes are absolutely normal. And in the same way as the fascinating workings of the human body are continuously evolving in defined cycles to enable us to actively participate in life, CI is currently treading the path to the digital age. CI, too, must stay competitive and seize all of the available business opportunities
Systems and plants are increasingly connected to the outside world in order to control and monitor processes. Networks with agile connectivity have several major benefits. They reduce costs, increase operating efficiency, protect employees’ health and facilitate interoperability between existing and new systems.

Resilience: A great force from within

But let’s get back to the human organism for a minute: it likewise has complex protection mechanisms which it uses to combat pathogens. The skin and mucous membranes provide a first protective barrier. If pathogens such as bacteria succeed in overcoming this barrier, various cells of the immune system are activated.

Yet how does this compare with the resilience of critical infrastructure systems? Is a suitable security foundation in place? According to Achim Berg (President of Bitkom, Germany’s digital association) both Germany and Europe need to develop their own competencies in areas like cyber security, artificial intelligence, blockchains or 3D printing. At the same time, our digital sovereignty must be preserved. Digital sovereignty doesn’t simply mean using new technologies effortlessly and confidently. It also means being capable of embedding them in bigger systems, protecting them and developing and manufacturing them ourselves in especially critical areas (source: https://www.bitkom.org/Presse/Presseinformation/Bitkom-Praesident-Achim-Berg-zur-Hightech-Strategie-2025.html).

Read Part 2 of this blog post next Friday!


Is my house or plant attractive to criminals? (Part 1)

Is my house or plant attractive to criminals? (Part 2)

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