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  • Donald E. Hester

November: Resolving to Build a Stronger and Resilient Future for Critical Infrastructure

November is a month of reflection, a time to take stock of our nation's vulnerabilities and the steps we can collectively take to fortify our critical infrastructure. It is during this month that we observe Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (CISR) Month, an initiative led by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The theme for 2023 is "Resolve to be Resilient," and it carries a powerful message that underscores the importance of preparedness and adaptability in the face of an ever-changing world.

In today's world, critical infrastructure serves as the lifeblood of our nation, encompassing everything from energy grids and transportation systems to water supplies and communication networks. Our reliance on these vital services is immense, making the security and resilience of critical infrastructure a matter of national concern.

As we navigate through a world where weather extremes, physical and cyberattacks, and technological advancements have become the new norm, it's clear that we need to be proactive in safeguarding our critical infrastructure. We can no longer afford to be complacent. The safety and security of our nation depend on our ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and to withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.

CISR Month is a yearly effort to educate and engage everyone from government officials to infrastructure owners and operators, and the general public, about the indispensable role critical infrastructure plays in our nation's well-being. It's a time when we collectively take stock of our vulnerabilities and reaffirm our commitment to strengthening critical infrastructure security and resilience.

This November, the message from CISA is clear: Resolve to be Resilient. We must prepare, invest in resilience, and develop strategies today, so that as a nation, we can recover quickly when incidents occur. It's a call to action for all of us to embrace resiliency and build it into our preparedness planning.

CISA has highlighted three essential practices for critical infrastructure organizations to implement in their pursuit of resilience:

  1. Assess Your Risk: Organizations should start by identifying their most critical functions and assets, defining dependencies that enable the continuity of these functions, and considering the full range of threats that could undermine functional continuity.

  2. Make a Plan and Exercise It: Developing dedicated resilience planning, determining the maximum downtime acceptable for customers, creating recovery plans, and testing those plans under real-life conditions are essential steps in ensuring the ability to operate through disruptions.

  3. Continuously Improve and Adapt: Organizations should foster a culture of continuous improvement, drawing from lessons learned in exercises and real-world incidents. This adaptability ensures organizations can respond effectively to evolving cross-sector risks.

The responsibility for the resilience of our critical infrastructure doesn't rest solely on the shoulders of industry leaders or government agencies. Each one of us plays a role in the nation's security and resilience. We must understand and accept our mutual responsibilities in managing our shared risks.

This month, we are encouraged to visit CISA's Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month webpage for a wealth of information, resources, and toolkits to enhance our understanding and preparedness for critical infrastructure security and resilience. You can find the resources here: Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month.

On social media, you can join the conversation using the hashtag #BeResilient and participate in key events like the CISR Month CISA Town Hall on November 9 at 1 p.m. ET. Additionally, CISA will be launching a new resilience campaign called "Shields Ready," in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In conclusion, November's Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month serves as a reminder that our nation's security and well-being depend on our ability to be prepared and resilient. Let us all resolve to be resilient, work together, and take the necessary steps to ensure our critical infrastructure remains strong and secure, no matter what challenges the future may hold.


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