Infrastructure security is the security provided to protect infrastructure, especially critical infrastructure, such as airports, highways  rail transport, hospitals, bridges, transport hubs, network communications, media, the electricity grid, dams, power plants, seaports, oil refineries, and water systems. Infrastructure security seeks to limit vulnerability of these structures and systems to sabotage, terrorism, and contamination.
Critical infrastructures naturally utilize information technology as this capability has become more and more available. As a result they have become highly interconnected, and interdependent. Intrusions and disruptions in one infrastructure might provoke unexpected failures to others. How to handle interdependencies becomes an important problem.
The most recent example of vulnerable infrastructure was the electrical grid in 2003, when Northeastern American areas experienced a power outage that appears to have originated in the Midwest, and possibly from a tree branch.
Potential causes of infrastructure failure
Critical infrastructure is vital for essential functioning of a country. Incidental or deliberate damage will have serious impact on the economy as well as providing essential services to the communities it serves. There are a number of reasons why infrastructure needs to be heavily secured and protected.
- Terrorism - person or groups deliberately targeting critical infrastructure for political gain. In the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Mumbai central station and hospital were deliberately targeted.
- Sabotage - person or groups such as ex-employee, political groups against governments, environmental groups in defense of environment. Refer to Bangkok's International Airport Seized by Protestors.
- Information warfare - private person hacking for private gain or countries initiating attacks to glean information and also damage a country's infrastructure. For example in cyberattacks on Estonia and cyberattacks during the 2008 South Ossetia war.
- Natural disaster - hurricane or natural events which damage critical infrastructure such as oil pipelines, water and power grids. See Hurricane Ike and Economic effects of Hurricane Katrina.
Security challenges for the electricity infrastructure
One of the fundamental foundations of modern society is the electrical power systems. An intentional disruption of electricity supplies would affect national security, the economy, and every person's life. Because power grids and their sources are widely dispersed, this is a challenge for the effectiveness of defensive organizations and structures.
Sabotage can damage electrical sources for the power grid, including civilian nuclear power stations. Sabotage in the form of cyberattacks can create havoc with computer, communication, and information systems, which could severely interrupt the electrical supply. This in turn can cause major disruptions to other infrastructure components of society. Comprehensive defense plans are proposed.
One method is to isolate load systems. Sophisticated defense systems should be wide-area, real-time protection, with control systems that are alerted and guided by sensing technologies. Communication and information must be capably routed.
Many countries have initiated government agencies to directly manage the security of critical infrastructure usually through the Ministry of Interior/Home Affairs, dedicated security agencies to protect facilities such as United States Federal Protective Service and also creation of dedicated transport police such as the British Transport Police. There are also commercial transportation security units such as the Amtrak Police in the United States.
A number of government organizations has focus on infrastructure security and protection. The Technical Support Working Group has the Infrastructure Protection Subgroup. The UK has the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre.
Several infrastructures also utilise fiber optic perimeter intrusion detection security systems, which enables the detection and location of intrusions over many miles of deployed fiber. This is commonly utilised at water utility sites and at other critical infrastructure sites globally.
- Li, Hao; et al. (2005-05). "Strategic Power Infrastructure Defense" (PDF). Proceedings of the IEEE 93 (5): 918 16 pages. doi:10.1109/JPROC.2005.847260. Retrieved 2009-11-07. Check date values in:
- Massoud, Amin (2002-04). "Security Challenges for the Electricity Infrastructure (Supplement to Computer Magazine)". Computer (IEEE computer society) 35 (4): 8. doi:10.1109/MC.2002.10042. Check date values in:
- Future Fibre Technologies Inc and Unlimited Technology Inc announce a major perimeter security upgrade program for 24 pennsylvania based water utility sites , Forbes. Retrieved 2010-21-04.
- Perimeter Protection Critical Sites, GIT Security. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- US Transportation Security Administration Website
- UK Department of Transport's Transport Security
- Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security
- Physical Vulnerability Assessment Security Survey
- Critical Infrastructure Security: Assessment, Prevention, Detection, Response