Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy, and Implementation [Updated August 7, 2003]   [open pdf - 193KB]

"The nation's health, wealth, and security rely on the production and distribution of certain goods and services. The array of physical assets, processes and organizations across which these goods and services move are called critical infrastructures (e.g. electricity, the power plants that generate it, and the electric grid upon which it is distributed). Computers and communications, themselves critical infrastructures, are increasingly tying these infrastructures together. There has been growing concern that this reliance on computers and computer networks raises the vulnerability of the nation's critical infrastructures to 'cyber' attacks. On November 22, 2002, Congress passed legislation creating a Department of Homeland Security. The Department consolidates into a single department a number of offices and agencies responsible for implementing various aspects of homeland security. One of the directorates created by the legislation is responsible for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. Issues include whether to segregate cyber protection from physical protection organizationally, mechanisms for sharing information shared between the government and the private sector, costs, the need to set priorities, and whether or not the federal government will need to employ more direct incentives to achieve an adequate level of protection by the private sector and states, and privacy versus protection. This report will be updated as warranted."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30153
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