President Obama has officially declared December as national Critical Infrastructure Protection Month.
The proclamation comes just days after Michael Welch, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, revealed that three U.S. cities had recently experienced significant network intrusion events by unnamed attackers by way of poorly secured supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks.
SCADA systems provide operations control for critical infrastructure and production networks including manufacturing facilities, refineries, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants.
Authorities have not specified whether the intrusions included the recently reported attacks against the Curran-Gardner Public Water District in Springfield, Illinois and another against networks at a water treatment facility in South Houston, Texas.
The White House issued the following statements from the President:
From irrigation to the Internet, our Nation's critical infrastructure supports an incredible array of services and industries that are essential to our continued success and prosperity. Critical infrastructure includes all systems and assets, both physical and virtual, that make vital contributions to our security, economic stability, public health, or safety. This month, we affirm the fundamental importance of our critical infrastructure and recommit to preparing for, responding to, and recovering from hazardous events and emergencies efficiently and effectively.
As we navigate new and uncertain challenges in the digital age, we must also address the growing threat cyber attacks present to our transportation networks, electricity grid, financial systems, and other assets and infrastructure. Cybersecurity remains a priority for my Administration, and we are committed to protecting our critical infrastructure by taking decisive action against cyber threats. To ensure the safety of our most vital operations, we are working to give public and private organizations the ability to obtain cybersecurity assistance quickly and effectively. These efforts will bolster our ability to withstand any attack, whether virtual or physical.
During Critical Infrastructure Protection Month, we reflect on our responsibility to protect the vital systems and assets that sustain our country and our people. Strengthening our national security and resilience is a task for all of us, and by promoting awareness and partnering with one another, we can make essential progress toward safe, secure, and prosperous horizons for every American.
One of the main challenges in protecting these networks is the fact that these systems were not necessarily designed with cybersecurity in mind. Rather, the security solutions have been layered on in a piecemeal fashion after the networks were operational, leaving ample room for attackers to compromise their functionality.