Protecting the cybersecurity of critical infrastructures and their supply chains 

  • 11 July 2024

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In an era defined by digital interconnectedness, safeguarding critical infrastructure and essential services has become paramount. This paper delves into the complexities of this critical task and offers actionable insights and a holistic approach to addressing evolving cyber threats. It particularly focuses on striking the right balance between regulation and sustainable controls supported by both the voluntary actions of the private sector and decisive action from governments.

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Critical infrastructure and essential services form the backbone of every country’s development, cutting across the domains of energy, water, heating, transportation, finance and communication to name a few. Disruptions to these infrastructures can have profound consequences on public safety, economic stability, and national security, underscoring the imperative for robust protection measures.   

At its core, this paper emphasises the indispensable role of critical infrastructures and essential services in sustaining societal functions and economic activities. ICC analyses the multifaceted challenges inherent to their protection and navigates through these challenges, offering a coherent strategy for resilience founded on international and multistakeholder collaboration. 

Who is behind the cyber threats targeting critical infrastructures? 

Cyberthreats to critical infrastructure and essential services come from diverse actors, ranging from states to cybercriminal organisations, each motivated by distinct objectives. These threats encompass sophisticated malware, supply chain attacks, and physical intrusions, posing significant risks to public safety and economic stability. The potential cascading impacts of these threats highlight the need for robust protection measures. 

What are the challenges in protecting critical infrastructures from cyber threats? 

One of the key challenges lies in defining critical infrastructure and essential services. Various sectors are considered critical in different jurisdictions. The concept of essential services is dynamic and evolving as digital technologies advance.  

Moreover, the interdependence of these services with other infrastructures further complicates their protection, requiring a nuanced approach.  

Global business losses from cyberattacks on supply chains are set to soar from $45 billion in 2023 to $138 billion by 2031.

Source: Cybersecurity Ventures 

Similarly, despite the existence of cybersecurity frameworks, implementation remains a challenge, particularly in aligning standards across jurisdictions and sectors.  

Public-private collaboration is essential in this endeavour but is hindered by differing regulatory frameworks and responsibilities. Securing supply chains is also crucial, given the varying ownership models and regulatory landscapes globally. 

What is needed to safeguard critical infrastructures from cyber threats? 

To address these challenges, a comprehensive approach is needed: 

In conclusion, safeguarding critical infrastructure and essential services requires a coordinated, multifaceted approach involving: 

Through a comprehensive analysis, ICC not only highlights the urgency of the task at hand but also offer practical recommendations to address it.