The threat of physical or cyber-attack targeting Critical Infrastructure (CI) is a key concern globally. Vulnerability to sudden service disruptions due to deliberate sabotage and terrorist attacks is a major threat. CI comprises goods and services such as clean air; the supply of water, electricity and gas; schools and hospitals; roads and bridges; railways and airports; telephone and the internet; information and communication; banking and finance; emergency services; sewage and refuse disposal, and so forth. The concept of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Security (CIPS) is associated with the readiness to respond to serious incidents encompassing the CI of a nation or region, as this infrastructure is crucial for the wellbeing and safety of nation states.
While individual infrastructure systems provide unique services, it is important to consider the interdependency of infrastructures, as the failure of one could lead to the collapse of many others, with the potential to close down crucial services. For example, a physical attack on an electricity grid can lead to the failure of a number of other services such as in hospitals, railways and airports. Similarly, a cyber-attack on the computer systems of emergency services can result in the unavailability of these services.
There are a number of ways in which CIPS challenge can be addressed. In this project, the focus will be on education and training to help detect and prevent threats to CI so that later catastrophes could be avoided.
The project is simple in its concept, but high on potential impact. By ensuring that there is a thorough understanding of how Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can contribute, based on research and consultation with key employers, HE curriculum can be developed in a planned, strategic manner, giving a cross-faculty, coherent delivery across all UG and PG programmes. Another key outcome of the project will be to inform stakeholder groups, such as research teams to help direct efforts towards the design and development of new or improved products and services aimed at the prevention, detection or response to terrorism activities.
By sharing the project outcomes with target groups i.e. HEIs, CIOs, CIO employees, Government Agencies, research teams and public and private sector companies engaged in CIPS related fields, the following results will be achieved:
CIPS awareness will be greatly increased
Best practice in CIPS curricula will be identified
HEIs will have greater understanding and coherence of approach towards CIPs curricula design and delivery
Future graduates of HEIs will be better prepared to directly influence the CIPS strategy of their place of work
Improved efforts towards the design and development of new or improved products and services aimed at the prevention, detection or response to terrorism activities
It is no exaggeration to suppose that in the long term this will result in improved CIPS products, policies and procedures, reduced risk, and potentially saved lives!
Each of the two Higher Education Institution (HEI) partners has an area of expertise in the field of terrorism and cybercrime, and can call on an extensive network of employers in CIOs – e.g. through their special interest groups, research programmes, and academic award teams. The list of relevant CIOs include utilities (national grid, water), transportation (rail, aviation), essential services (finance, county councils) and emergency services (fire, police and health).