Int. J. Communications, Network and System Sciences, 2011, 4, 735-738
doi:10.4236/ijcns.2011.411090 Published Online November 2011 (http ://
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJCNS
Computer-Based Infrastructure Sector Interdependencies
and Security Implications
Aghware F i delis Obu k o hw o
Computer Science Department, College of E ducation, Agbor,
Delta State, Nigeria
Received August 17, 2011; revised September 21, 2011; accepted Septemb e r 30, 2011
Traditionally, the analysis of sector interdependencies has involved the characterization of all infrastruc-
ture-to-infrastructure interconnections and some of the main infrastructure integrals that, once lost or be
tampered with, will compromise the performance and security issues with the other interconnected infra-
structures. Therefore, the paper dwells much on the security implications which may be associated with these
infrastructure sector interdependencies. This paper also discusses some of the major risk considerations,
analytical approaches, researches and the necessary developments needed as well as the interdisciplinary
ranges through which the necessary skills are required in the construction of comprehensive sector interde-
Keywords: Infrastructure, Interdependencies, Sector, Security
1. Introduction
Interdependencies have always been done between con-
nections which may be physical or vir tual. In the field of
computer science and technology, there have been in-
creased interdependencies which integrate a number of
infrastructures from different industries, both private and
public in a way of increasing efficiency and improving
the way of doing things [1]. There has been pervasive
integration of computer resources and eventful automa-
tion of sector infrastructures, something that has been
done over the last two decades. With these kinds of sec-
tors, the infrastructure interdependencies are done
through the application of informational, electronic links.
This makes the output of one information infrastructure
the input for another infrastructure in the interconnect-
tions, and what is passed across the interconnections is
information which is the most valued commodity here.
With this increase and extensive dependency on the sec-
tor interdependencies in some nations through the use of
computer networks, most of the interdependencies have
been vulnerable to any possible terrorist attacks. The
problem here is due to the fact that the science applied in
infrastructure interdependencies has not been developed
as such and this is the reason why the systems are still
2. Literature Review
In 1990s, after successful recognition that computer re-
sources could be effectively used in increasing the rate
through which operations were done, it was necessary
that there would be the integration of infrastructure sec-
tor interdependencies in all secto rs [1]. Having don e that,
the issues of security became eminent and therefore the
entire system could be easily compromised if necessary
measure were not taken. This therefore calls for an
analysis of the interdependencies in order to address all
possible threats that would affect the systems. This
analysis was motivated by the understanding and recog-
nition that it would be possible to have a number of in-
cidental infrastructures that could easily interact and
therefore a single tamper with one point of the connec-
tions would bring the entire system to a halt. Again, any
possible access of the system would also degrade the
infrastructure sector interdependencies, therefore de-
grading the quality of service provided by the system.
Having realized that the integration of these computer
infrastructures was something delicate that could greatly
bring bigger threats and risks once compromised, it was
necessary to come up with ways and means through
which the integrity of the system could be maintained.
From the risk and threat point of view, any form of in-
ter-sector analyses should be done in a manner that in-
volves the characterization and identification of all the
possible range of harms and threats that may exist to
these infrastructure interdependencies [2]. Most of these
threats will be posed by natural incidents, accidental
occurrences, systems malfunctioning, or any form of
intentional tampering. Some other form of threats may be
from cyber or even physical damages. Some other mis-
fortunes that may fall upon the sector interdependencies
may be caused by what is known as loss consequences,
and these may include issues to do with safety and health,
economic issues, national insecurity, environmental in-
teractions, and sociopolitical factors. Once it has been
possible to understand the source and nature of the threat,
then it would be possible to come up with an information
foundation from which the system can be safeguarded
through the use of defensible, cost-friendly mechanisms
for protection. There will also be the incorporation of
reliable decision support systems which are specifically
for ensuring that there is security and sufficiency of the
infrastructure sector interdependencies [3]. Since in the
1990s, the issue of security and system privacy is some-
thing that has been highly discussed with the sector in-
terdependencies because there are very many possible
threats which can be posed to the system, and end up
bringing very many losses to the involved parties to that
particular interdependency. Over the years, computer and
software engineers have been coming together to give
more findings and latest developments through which the
issue of security can be addressed [4]. This has been
done by looking at the past occurrences of threats and
basing their research on that particular weakness point to
ensure that it is not compromised again. These develop-
ments have been presenting the necessary advancements
in the theory part, the system design, infrastructure im-
plementation, the analysis, systems verification, and the
evaluation for effective and secure infrastructure sector
interdependencies. As we continue to have more and
more smart computer devices each and every day, all the
technological developments in the field of information
and technology have undergone the change as well. On
the other side, these systems and devices also become
greatly compromised since there are more experts com-
ing up with ways through which they can bring to a halt
all the operations of the system [5]. Therefore, mor e and
more research is needed in the field of computer tech-
nology in order to address the security implications and
to increase our security technologies once some sectors
are to adopt these infrastructure sector interdependencies.
This will ensure that all th e operations run smoothly and
never will be compromised.
3. Infrastructure Sector Interdependence
Infrastructure maybe viewed as the fundamental building
structures required for organizing an enterprise. It could
also be seen as the technical frameworks, technologies
and physical networks needed for the functionality of
vital institutions in the society. Some basic examples
include transportation, energy supply, water management,
and communication.
3.1. Communication
In any nation, communications systems are the backbone
for much of the critical infrastructure. It provides infor
mation, such as d ata, v ideo, an d In ternet co nn ectiv ity, fo r
other sectors in the national infrastructure. It provides
information related to interdependent infrastructure from
various government information systems, as well as
information regarding the collaboration between govern-
ment and the private sector. Interdependence is parti-
cularly relevant to the public safety community. For
example, in the case of a power outage, public safety
workers could lose access to critical resources, such as
telephones and computers. Several recent large-scale
power outages, such as the 2003 Northeast Region Black-
out and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, have highlighted the
strong interdependencies between the power and com-
munications sectors. Such incidents emphasize the need
for locally and independently generated power, which
can provide electricity to public safety workers in times
of emergency.
As important as they are, these systems and networks
that make up these infrastructure are often taken for
granted, yet a disruption to ju st one of those systems can
have dire consequences across other sectors for instance,
a computer virus that disrupts the distribution of natural
gas across a region. This could lead to a consequential
reduction in electrical power generation, which in turn
leads to the forced shutdown of computerized controls
and communications. Road traffic, air traffic, and rail
transportation might then become affected. Emergency
services might also be hampered. An entire region can
become debilitated becau se some critical elements in the
infrastructure become disabled through natural disaster.
While potentially in contravention of the Geneva Con-
ventions, military forces have also recognized that it can
cripple an enemy’s ability to resist by attacking key
elements of its civilian and military infrastructure.
3.2. Cyber Interdependency
Cyber interdependencies are relatively new and a result
of the pervasive computerization and automation of in-
frastructures over the last decades. This interdependency
is the one where Cuba has developed in the last 10 years
the appropriate methods to cause damage to the United
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJCNS
Cyber interdepend encies connect infrastru ctures to one
another via electronic, informational links. The output of
the information infrastructure are inputs to the other in-
frastructure, and the “commodity” passed between the
infrastructures is information. Due to the extensive de-
pendency of the nation’s infrastructures in computer
networks, this interdependency is the most vulnerable to
terrorist attacks. The science of cyber infrastructure in-
terdependencies is still relative i mmature and vulnerable.
A deeper appreciation of its importance to national secu-
rity has developed only in the last 10 years. Infrastruc-
tures are connected at multiple points such that a bi-di-
rectional relationship exists between the states of any
given pair.
3.3. Security and Proprietary Data Issues
A highly detailed, comprehensive database of national
infrastructures would be a valuable target for hackers,
terrorists, and foreign intelligence services-particularly if
it were coupled to advanced modeling and simulation.
Some of the latest spies for Cuba had as a mission the
development of such datab ase. There is still the not com-
pletely solved case of the Moonlight Maze, an operation
traced back to Moscow, by private engineers, and possi-
ble, not yet proven, with the assistance of Cuban engi-
neers and computer scientists, in which unclassified
DOD technology-related computer systems were com-
promised and sensitive data co pied. This is the danger of
creating of collecting data into one unclassified compre-
hensive database.
4. Security Implications
There can never be a greater threat than the issue of in-
security in a given infrastructure interdependency that
had been initially adopted to improve efficiency and
performance. This can bring about material losses, in-
formation loss, access of information by the wrong users,
and so on. Different nations have adopted these interde-
pendencies and the infrastructures are as well intercom-
nected in way that makes them mutually dependent on
each other in very many complexities. This kind of in-
terconnection and interdependency is achieved through
the use of information and communication technological
advancements, also known as cyber-oriented computer
systems [6]. Therefore, we will agree that any form of
threat posed to the whole, or an integral part of the con-
nection, will bring about the greatest worry. This means
that whatever will happen at one end of a given infra-
structure will directly impact the interdependent infra-
structures in the entire system. This may as well affect
very large geographical areas, and eventually halting the
economic operations. At times, when there is an inter-
connection among a number of nations, the exact thing
will also tend to happen. For instance, in the mid 1992,
there was a failure with one of the telecommunications
satellites in the United States, and this led to very huge
inconveniencies as all pagers in the country malfunc-
tioned. From the interdependency point of view, this
brought a halt to a number of financial and banking op-
erations in the country, affecting communication in hos-
pitals and so one. As an example, any other form of in-
terference in the system will therefore bring similar im-
plications which may be harmful to any economy [6].
Having seen greater advancements in the global tech-
nology, it is true that any form of interruption and secu-
rity threat posed on any infrastructure sector interde-
pendencies will automatically give adverse effects on the
running of the operations. Since more and more people
continue to use the Internet, it becomes one of major
points of interference through which an entire intercom-
nection can be compromised. This will therefore bring
greater losses to all the sectors linked to the interconnect-
tion. This will as well bring loss of vital information that
may end up being used for social engineering and other
cyber crime.
As it has happened over the years, a number of bank-
ing and financial institutions have been reported of hav-
ing lost a lot of funds thro ugh cyber crime, and therefore
gives us a hint on how this security implication can be
something vital whenever thinking of infrastructure in-
terdependencies. Therefore, any form of idea aimed at
the identification, understanding, the analysis and moni-
toring of these interdependencies is something that
should be done competently although this can be some-
thing quite challenging. This becomes the only sure way
of safeguarding the existing interdependencies, and es-
pecially now that there have been increasing terrorism
threats in different parts of the world [7]. It is very clear
that all forms of computer based infrastructure sector
interdependencies work through the support of a highly
detailed, extensive and comprehensive data-source. This
ensures that all information and decision support opera-
tions occur simultaneously in ensuring a smooth flow in
the entire infrastructure connections [8]. The database
holding these national infrastructures can thus become a
very effective target for threats posed by terrorists, hack-
ers, and some foreign intelligence operations, and espe-
cially when the data-base is coupled to a number of ad-
vanced simulations. Therefore, it would be necessary that
all these issues are critically addressed whenever adopt-
ing a given infrastructure interdependency. There should
also be means of ensuring that they are secure databases
which hold different data so that the entire information
and data is not located at only one access point.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJCNS
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. IJCNS
5. Summary and Conclusions
Therefore, it will be the duty of the federal government
to set up guidelines through which it can be easy to pro-
tect all critical sector infrastructure interdependencies.
Since majority of these interdependencies are owned by
the private sector, it would be necessary that there should
be a guiding outline through which sector-based interde-
pendencies will be adopted. It would also be necessary
that all organizational interdependencies should be guided
by appropriate modeling through which any loophole
within the infrastructure can be tampered with, thus
causing security issues. Also, it can be possible for all
sectors in a given infrastructure interdependency to pro-
vide room for private-public sector interconnections so
that they can jointly br ing a co op erative environ ment in a
way to protect all critical infrastructures. The sharing of
these infrastructures will also ensure there is rapid eco-
nomic growth since it would be easy to share information
thus being able to solve any problem realized in the sys-
tem immediately. Therefore, since security issues poses
the greatest threat to any form of infrastructure sector
interdependency, it would be necessary that everyone
plays the role in ensuring that the entire system is safe-
guarded from any unauthorized access. There should also
be the use of proper devices which may not be easily
tempered for an effective operation of the entire infra-
6. Recommendations
In an attempt to alleviate the menace on critical in-
frastructure sector interdepende ncies, the following steps
need to be adopted:
Sectors have to assess their vulnerabilities to both
physical or cyber attacks;
Plan to eliminate significant vuln erabilities;
Develop systems to identify and prevent attempted
A need to establish a center of excellence to support
communities in conducting vulnerability and risk as-
Application of information assurance techniques to
computerized systems used by sectors such as water
utilities, gas, and electric sectors, for operational data
and control operations.
Alert, contain and rebuff attacks and then, with the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to
rebuild essential capabilities in the aftermath.
7. References
[1] J. Sullivant, “Strategies for Protecting National Critical
Assets,” Wiley, New York, 2007.
[2] J. Bullock and D. Haddow, “Introduction to Homeland
Security,” New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River,
[3] M. Amin “Toward Self-Healing Infrastructure Systems,”
IEEE Computer Application Power, Vol. 33, No. 8, 2000,
pp. 45-53.
[4] Y. Haimes, “Risk Modeling, Assessment, and Manage-
ment,” John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1998.
[5] Y. Haimes and P. Jiang, “Leontief-Based Model of Risk
in Complex Interconnected Infrastructures,” Journal of
Infrastructure Systems, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2001, pp. 23-27.
[6] S. Rosenbush, “Satellites’s Death Puts Millions out of
Touch,” USA Today, May 1998. ww w . i e e e r g
[7] D. Verton, “Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyberter-
rorism,” McGraw Hill, Upper Saddle River, 2003.
[8] J. Willenssen, “Critical Infrastructure Protection Signify-
cant Challenges in Safeguarding Interdependences,” Ox-
ford University Press, Oxford, 2007.