AMU Homeland Security Original

Critical Infrastructures: Why They Urgently Need Protection

An attack to our critical infrastructures could have devastating impacts. Far more than most people think, we rely on the electrical grid, the supply chain, water systems, ports, shipping facilities, and other critical infrastructures.

FBI Director Warns about Credible Threats to Our Critical Infrastructures

FBI Director Christopher Wray recently came out with a concerning statement regarding current threats to our critical infrastructures. At a Vanderbilt University summit on April 18, Wray said that China “ “has made it clear that it considers every sector that makes our society run as fair game in its bid to dominate on the world stage, and that its plan is to land low blows against civilian infrastructure to try to induce panic and break America’s will to resist.”

According to The Hill, Volt Typhoon is a Chinese hacking group, active since mid-2021, that the Chinese government said is not part of China’s government. The Hill notes that Volt Typhoon has targeted communications systems, manufacturing, transportation systems, the maritime sector, and the education sector.

During the Vanderbilt University summit, FBI Director Wray said that Volt Typhoon has already gained access to critical infrastructures in the United States involving the energy sector, water sector, and other sectors.

Previous Infrastructure Attacks

Threats to critical infrastructures have existed for decades. According to Allianz, Iranian hackers breached the Bowman Avenue Dam and gained control of the flood gates in New York in 2013.

Allianz observed that threats to critical infrastructure through cyber-attacks are more likely to target industrial control systems versus stealing data. Allianz also noted that 54% of 500 critical infrastructure suppliers in the U.S. reported attempts to control their control systems.

U.S. think tank RAND stated that Chinese and Russian hackers were able to infiltrate the U.S. electrical grid as early as 2009. They have installed malware that can be used in future attacks on critical infrastructures.

As technology evolves, those threats continue to change as well. A major attack to the U.S. critical infrastructures could have devastating effects.

According to RAND, this infiltration by hackers is a threat to national security. In addition to the potential of attacks within the U.S., the U.S. military’s ability to deploy overseas is dependent on civilian infrastructures such as the “civilian maritime industry, airlines, ports, and railroads.”

How to Cope with Attacks to Critical Infrastructures

As civilians, there are limitations to what we can do if a major attack occurs to one of our critical infrastructures. As with all emergencies, the first step is to stay calm. Since one of the purposes of a critical infrastructure attack is to induce panic, stay calm to avoid letting the attackers win.

Some additional strategies to mitigate the impact of a critical infrastructure attack include:

  • Having cash easily available
  • Maintaining a hard copy of medical records and other important documents, such as wills
  • Keeping spare fuel handy
  • Having batteries on hand
  • Keeping medicines fully stocked

Attacks on critical infrastructures can cause outages and disruptions in supply chains, so it is vital to consider the services and supplies that you use the most. Stocking up on non-perishable supplies may be helpful if an attack occurs; it offers service providers more time to get critical infrastructures back online.

U.S. critical infrastructures are constantly vulnerable to threats from various groups. But staying vigilant and prepared can provide us with more peace of mind.

Jarrod Sadulski

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor in the School of Security and Global Studies and has over two decades in the field of criminal justice. His expertise includes training on countering human trafficking, maritime security, effective stress management in policing and narcotics trafficking trends in Latin America. Jarrod frequently conducts in-country research and consultant work in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He also has a background in business development. For more information on Jarrod and links to his social media and website, check out

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