Ensuring the Cybersecurity of Texas’ Critical Infrastructures

Date

2023-10-15

Authors

Nodeland, Brooke

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Institute for Homeland Security

Abstract

The daily threat of cyber-attacks on Texas’ critical infrastructure present significant challenges for public and private critical infrastructure providers. COVID-19 related supply chain issues provided insight into the catastrophic effects that could be caused by a cyber-attack on the transportation sector. These disruptions effect our ability to distribute products and medical necessities as well as essential personnel in times of crisis. Protecting the state’s transportation, energy, and chemical cyber networks is imperative in ensuring the sustainability of daily life and business continuity in the event of a cyber-attack. Of additional concern is a growing reliance on cyber-based control, navigation, tracking, positioning, and communications systems creating ample opportunities for exploitation of the transportation cyber systems on which industry have become dependent (Transportation Systems Sector-Specific Plan, 2015). The cyber security of the energy sector ensures the health and welfare of Texans by ensuring steady energy is supplied via electricity, oil and other natural gas resources. The energy infrastructure is primarily owned in the private sector, supplies fuel to the transportation industry, and electricity to businesses and households. Recent ransomware attacks aimed at Western targets, including the energy sector, continue to pose challenges in cybersecurity (Montague, 2023). The recent accidental chemical spill in Ohio also provides insight into the possible outcomes of an intentional cyber-attack against this infrastructure. The regular operations of the chemical sector are imperative to the economic and manufacturing health of state and often involves transporting dangerous chemicals on which other critical infrastructures are dependent (Introduction to the Chemical Sector Risk Management Agency, n.d.). Cyber threats are of particular concern in Texas, where large corporations continue to relocate, and the population continues to climb. It is imperative industry leaders are able to recognize and identify their cyber risks to develop prevention strategies and respond to cyberattacks more quickly and effectively. Disruptions to critical infrastructures could lead to theft of intellectual property; supply chain disruption; electricity disruption; loss of operations capacity; or chemical theft, diversion, or release (Introduction to the Chemical Sector Risk Management Agency, n.d.). Texas’ industrial vulnerability to cyber-attacks through phishing, ransomware, and malware pose significant threats to the security of critical infrastructures. Securing networks against internal and external cyber-attacks requires industry leaders to be proactive and reactive in their approach. The proposed paper seeks to present a translational synthesis of the existing literature regarding best cybersecurity practices for securing critical infrastructure in Texas. In doing so, agencies will be able to better align and prioritize cybersecurity initiatives with industry missions, risk tolerance, and resources (Cybersecurity, C.I., 2018). This review will also include recommendations for improving risk readiness for the transportation, energy, and chemical industry in the state moving forward.

Description

Keywords

cybersecurity, transportation, energy, chemical, critical infrastructure

Citation

Nodeland, B. (2023) Ensuring the Cybersecurity of Texas’ Critical Infrastructures. (Report No. IHS/CR-2023-1023). The Sam Houston State University Institute for Homeland Security. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/4ZVRU