In this guest blog, Toomas Viira, author of Lessons Learned: Critical Information Infrastructure Protection – How to protect critical information infrastructure explores the potential impacts of failing to protect critical information infrastructure.
Imagine walking by a Christmas tree in the city centre in January, or going to a petrol station that clearly cannot provide any petrol.
The temperature in schools is falling rapidly because there is no heating, so the students are sent home. Canteens cannot prepare hot food; they can only serve dessert. Apartments and offices in buildings with central heating become cold.
Most of the shops in the city are closed, because card payments and security systems don’t work. Some small shops remain open. Locals who don’t have any cash but are well-known get their shopping done. Their unpaid purchases are written in a notebook. Many restaurants are closed. Only restaurants that use gas stoves remain open. People pay for food and drinks in cash.
You can see more people using their mobile phones than usual. The local airport is still working, because it’s powered by generators. The hospital remains operational, because its diesel engine continues to produce electricity. There is enough fuel in the generator to keep it going until evening.
An hour later you notice that mobile reception is becoming worse – phones display the message “mobile network not available”. Network availability seems even worse a couple of hours later. The use of data is limited to reduce the power consumption of the equipment in base stations and to ensure that their UPS systems last longer. The work of several production plants (meat and cheese) is affected, meaning they must throw away the products that are on their production line.
These were just some of the consequences of a power cut that took place on 9 January 2019 in the city of Kuressaare in Saaremaa, Estonia. The cause was an overhead transmission line malfunction that left about 13,000 people without power for nearly four hours. What would have happened if this had been a cyber attack and the outage had lasted much longer? Or if millions of people had been left without power?
These examples show the importance of protecting your CII (critical information infrastructure). In my book I explain the steps that you can take to quickly and effectively protect your CII and make sure that you are prepared for such scenarios.
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