Chapter 1 provided a high-level overview of the need for a national framework for protecting critical infrastructure. For some additional reading, take a look at the latest Presidential Order that relates to strengthening cybersecurity that relates to critical infrastructure: After reading chapter 1 and looking at the link above, you’re ready to participate in the first discussion. Let’s look at a real-world scenario and how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays into it. In the scenario, the United States will be hit by a large-scale, coordinated cyber attack organized by China. These attacks debilitate the functioning of government agencies, parts of the critical infrastructure, and commercial ventures. The IT infrastructure of several agencies are paralyzed, the electric grid in most of the country is shut down, telephone traffic is seriously limited and satellite communications are down (limiting the Department of Defense’s [DOD’s] ability to communicate with commands overseas). International commerce and financial institutions are also severely hit. Please explain how DHS should handle this situation. 1. As indicated above,

the scenario describes a large-scale, coordinated cyber attack on the United States organized by China. This attack has caused significant damage, including the paralysis of several government agencies’ IT infrastructure, the shutdown of the electric grid, limited telephone traffic, and disrupted satellite communications. Additionally, international commerce and financial institutions have been severely affected.

In such a scenario, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays a crucial role in managing the situation and mitigating the damage caused by the cyber attack. The DHS is responsible for protecting critical infrastructure and coordinating the nation’s response to cyber incidents.

Firstly, the DHS should activate its National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), which serves as the central hub for coordinating cyber response efforts. The NCCIC should promptly assess the scale and nature of the attack, collaborating with relevant government agencies, private sector partners, and international partners to gather as much information as possible.

The DHS should establish a unified command structure, potentially in collaboration with other federal agencies like the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This joint effort would ensure coordination and effective decision-making in managing the crisis.

Given the severity of the attack, the DHS should activate the National Response Framework (NRF), which provides a structured approach to coordinating multi-agency response efforts. The NRF defines the roles and responsibilities of various federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector entities involved in disaster response.

To address the paralyzed IT infrastructure of government agencies, the DHS should prioritize the restoration of critical systems and networks. This could involve engaging with cybersecurity experts to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, implementing robust incident response measures, and restoring affected systems from reliable backups.

Restoring the electric grid is a critical task to be undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE) and relevant private sector entities, such as power companies. The DHS should coordinate efforts to assess the extent of the damage, identify points of failure, and restore power generation and distribution capabilities as swiftly as possible.

Limited telephone traffic and disrupted satellite communication pose significant challenges for communication among agencies and military commands. The DHS should work closely with telecommunications providers to restore services and ensure reliable and secure communication channels for critical operations.

Severe impacts on international commerce and financial institutions require close coordination with relevant entities like the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, and international partners. The DHS should collaborate to assess the extent of the damage and develop strategies to restore operations while also implementing measures to prevent further attacks.

In summary, in a large-scale cyber attack scenario like the one described, the DHS should activate its NCCIC, establish a unified command structure, and coordinate efforts with various agencies, private sector partners, and international partners. The prioritization of critical system restoration, collaboration with the DOE to restore the electric grid, communication restoration, and collaboration on international commerce and financial institutions are key aspects of the DHS response.

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