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G561
National Plan for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure

Dale Wuokko, P.E.

Critical infrastructure includes systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters. Critical infrastructure is addressed, in part, by engineering disciplines, including civil, electrical, mechanical, industrial, hydrological, environmental, computer, and others. Tunnels serving as the primary conduit for transportation, water, electric communications, and natural gas lines; bridges; dams; water treatment plants; electric power generating plants; supply lines bringing power, communications, food, and water to a community; hospitals; and financial services underpinning our economic system are examples of critical infrastructure.

The risk environment affecting critical infrastructure is complex and uncertain with threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences having evolved over the last 15 years. Critical infrastructure has long been subject to risks associated with physical threats and natural disasters. It is now increasingly exposed to cyber risks due to the integration of information and communication technologies with critical infrastructure operations and adversaries world-wide focused on exploiting cyber vulnerabilities.

For example, in 2016 it was reported that a water treatment plant experienced a cyberattack when cyber intruders managed to remotely manipulate the amount of chemicals that went into the water supply and adversely impact water treatment and production capabilities such that the recovery time to replenish water supplies increased. As another example, a December 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine’s critical power control centers infrastructures affected the electrical distribution grid for more than 225,000 people. Moreover, critical infrastructure is also susceptible to physical threats. A study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks on only nine key U.S. interconnected electric transmission substations on a hot summer day while the electrical grid is under a strained load demand could cause a coast-to-coast blackout lasting months.

This course presents the U.S. National Infrastructure Protection Plan describing a national collaborative effort between all levels of government and private and non-profit sectors to achieve critical infrastructure security and resilience.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.


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