The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets

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Full Title of Reference

The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets

Full Citation

Department of Homeland Security, The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (2003). Web

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Key Words

Civilian Participation, Computer Network Attack, Cyber Crime, Cyber Security as an Externality, Cyber Security as a Public Good, Cyber Terrorism, Department of Homeland Security, Interdependencies, National Security, Outreach and Collaboration


This document defines the road ahead for a core mission area identified in the President’s National Strategy for Homeland Security—reducing the Nation’s vulnerability to acts of terrorism by protecting our critical infrastructures and key assets from physical attack. This document, the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets, the Strategy, identifies a clear set of national goals and objectives and outlines the guiding principles that will underpin our efforts to secure the infrastructures and assets vital to our national security, governance, public health and safety, economy, and public confidence. This Strategy also provides a unifying organization and identifies specific initiatives to drive our near-term national protection priorities and inform the resource allocation process. Most importantly, it establishes a foundation for building and fostering the cooperative environment in which government, industry, and private citizens can carry out their respective protection responsibilities more effectively and efficiently.

Building upon past efforts, this document provides direction to the federal departments and agencies that have a role in critical infrastructure and asset protection. It also suggests steps that state and local governments, private sector entities, and concerned citizens across America can take to enhance our collective infrastructure and asset security. In this light, this Strategy belongs and applies to the Nation as a whole, not just to the federal government or its constituent departments and agencies.

Defining the End State: Strategic Objectives

The strategic objectives that underpin our national critical infrastructure and key asset protection effort include:

  • Identifying and assuring the protection of those infrastructures and assets that we deem most critical in terms of national-level public health and safety, governance, economic and national security, and public confidence consequences;
  • Providing timely warning and assuring the protection of those infrastructures and assets that face a specific, imminent threat; and
  • Assuring the protection of other infrastructures and assets that may become terrorist targets over time by pursuing specific initiatives and enabling a collaborative environment in which federal, state, and local governments and the private sector can better protect the infrastructure and assets they control

Homeland Security and Infrastructure Protection: A Shared Responsibility

Protecting America’s critical infrastructures and key assets calls for a transition to a new national cooperative paradigm. The basic tenets of homeland security are fundamentally different from the historically defined tenets of national security. Traditionally, national security has been recognized largely as the responsibility of the federal government. National security is underpinned by the collective efforts of the military, foreign policy establishment, and intelligence community in the defense of our airspace and national borders, as well as operations overseas to protect our national interests. Homeland security, particularly in the context of critical infrastructure and key asset protection, is a shared responsibility that cannot be accomplished by the federal government alone. It requires coordinated action on the part of federal, state, and local governments; the private sector; and concerned citizens across the country.

The Nature of Possible Attacks

Terrorists’ pursuit of their long-term strategic objectives includes attacks on critical infrastructures and key assets. Terrorists target critical infrastructures to achieve three general types of effects:

  • Direct infrastructure effects: Cascading disruption or arrest of the functions of critical infrastructures or key assets through direct attacks on a critical node, system, or function.
  • Indirect infrastructure effects: Cascading disruption and financial consequences for government, society, and economy through public- and private-sector reactions to an attack.
  • Exploitation of infrastructure: Exploitation of elements of a particular infrastructure to disrupt or destroy another target

Guiding Principles: Eight guiding principles underpin this Strategy

  • Assure public safety, public confidence, and services;
  • Establish responsibility and accountability;
  • Encourage and facilitate partnering among all levels of government and between government and industry;
  • Encourage market solutions wherever possible and compensate for market failure with focused government intervention;
  • Facilitate meaningful information sharing;
  • Foster international cooperation;
  • Develop technologies and expertise to combat terrorist threats; and
  • Safeguard privacy and constitutional freedoms.

Near-term Roadmap: Cross-Sector Security Priorities

The issues and security initiatives outlined in the Cross-Sector Security Priorities chapter of this document represent important, near-term national priorities. They are focused on impediments to physical protection that significantly impact multiple sectors of our government, society, and economy. Potential solutions to the problems identified—such as information sharing and threat indications and warning—are high- leverage areas that, when realized, will enhance the Nation’s collective ability to protect critical infrastructures and key assets across the board. Accordingly, DHS and designated federal lead departments and agencies will prepare detailed implementation plans to support the activities outlined in this chapter.

This Strategy identifies major cross-sector initiatives in five areas:

  • Planning and Resource Allocation;
  • Information Sharing and Indications and Warnings:
  • Personnel Surety, Building Human Capital, and Awareness:
  • Technology and Research & Development
  • Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis

In addition to the cross-sector themes addressed in this Strategy, the individual critical infrastructure sectors and key assets that have unique issues requiring action are examined.

Excerpts of the Executive Summary.

Additional Notes and Highlights

Expertise Required: None


 Executive Summary
 The Case for Action
 National Policy and Guiding Principles
 Organizing and Partnering for Critical Infrastructure and Key Asset Protection
 Cross-Sector Security Priorities
    Planning and Resource Allocation
    Information Sharing and Indications and Warnings
    Personnel Surety, Building Human Capital, and Awareness
    Technology and Research & Development
    Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis
 Securing Critical Infrastructures
    Agriculture and Food
    Public Health
    Emergency Services
    Defense Industrial Base
    Banking and Finance
    Chemical Industry and Hazardous Materials
    Postal and Shipping
 Protecting Key Assets
    National Monuments and Icons
    Nuclear Power Plants
    Government Facilities
    Commercial Key Assets