Critical Infrastructure - Criticality of Interdependency

Critical Infrastructures are dynamic, decentralized, pervasive, hyper-connected, inter-locked, and interdependent on other infrastructure for their function. These infrastructure are also subject to disturbances from natural, technological and malicious activities of varying intensities. A very small vulnerability in one asset of a network node can lead to disruption of other interdependent networks. Disaster in one infrastructure affects the function of other infrastructures and can lead to cascade of concurrent malfunction failures. As interconnectedness and interdependencies increase, the vulnerability of entire network also increases. A single point of failure can be a source of severe cascading failure. Buldyrev, et al., (2010) states that it is “fundamental that failure one network leads to failure of dependent nodes and other networks” (Buldyrev, et al., 2010). It is essential to see how these critical services are impacted, and is central to their long term viability and impacted by interdependency, to respond and restore the services efficiently from loss of such services (National Science Foundation, 2014). The National Science Foundation (2014) brings out that this “creates a complex set of interdependencies between infrastructure services that are challenging to conceptualize, model, understand, and design across multiple scales” (National Science Foundation, 2014).

The significance of protecting interdependent infrastructures is vital for sustaining societies, communities and the nation’s economy including need for re-building post disaster. The human, physical and cyberspace security can no longer be considered as separate environments any further due inter-dependencies. Security has to be addressed through integrated intelligence sharing and risk-based approach. This necessitates adopting frameworks for understanding the robustness of interacting networks subject to such cascading failures and building effective resilience. 

Authored by Kinshuk De

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