[AfrICANN-discuss] Protecting Critical Information Infrastructures: Something for RECs to think about?

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Mon Mar 30 17:52:20 SAST 2009

*Protecting Critical Information Infrastructures: Frequently Asked Questions

*What are Critical Information Infrastructures?*

*There is no globally shared definition of Critical Information
Infrastructures (CII).* In its Green Paper on a European Programme for
Critical Infrastructure
* *European Commission captured the concept of CII as being all* **"ICT
systems that are critical infrastructures for themselves or that are
essential for the operation of critical infrastructures (telecommunications,
computers/software, Internet, satellites, etc.)".* In 2008, the OECD defined
CII as *"those interconnected information systems and networks, the
disruption or destruction of which would have a serious impact on the
health, safety, security, or economic well-being of citizens, or on the
effective functioning of government or the economy".*

Despite the existing differences in national and international policy
contexts, what is important is that the notion of CII is conducive to a
holistic policy perspective on the secure and continuous functioning of ICT
systems, services, networks and infrastructures (ICT infrastructures) of
which the Internet is a very important component, due to its widespread
diffusion and the process of technological convergence.

*Why is action at EU level to protect these infrastructures urgently needed?

Cyber attacks have risen to an unprecedented level of sophistication. What
used to be simple experiments are now turning into sophisticated activities
performed for profit or political reasons. The recent large scale
cyber-attacks on Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia are the most widely covered
examples of a general trend. The huge number of viruses, worms and other
forms of malware, the expansion of
* and the continuous rise of spam confirms that this is a severe problem.

The high dependence on CII, their cross-border interconnectedness and
interdependencies with other infrastructures (e.g. energy infrastructures),
as well as the vulnerabilities and threats they face raise the need to
address their security and resilience in a systemic perspective as the
frontline of defence against failures and attacks.

Because of the transnational dimension of this issue, a more integrated and
coordinated approach throughout the European Union will usefully complement
and add value to the programmes which are already in place within Member
States. This will also reinforce the wealth creation capabilities of the
Single Market.

It is clear that no single "silver bullet" solution will be able to provide
all the answers, but simply leaving the situation as is will not lead to
satisfactory results. It is necessary to establish the right policy
framework – in particular for economic and societal drivers and incentives –
on the basis of a shared responsibility and cooperation amongst all the
involved stakeholders. It is vital to promote operational/ tactical
cooperation in the short and medium term (until 2010-2011) as well as
strategic policy discussion for long-term scenarios (2012 and beyond). The
work must start now in order to prepare Europe against large-scale cyber
attacks and disruptions.

*How does this initiative relate to the debate around European efforts
towards an increased and modernised network and information security policy?

The Commission's initiative on Critical Information Infrastructure
Protection focuses on prevention, preparedness and awareness and defines a
plan of immediate actions running until 2011 to strengthen the security and
resilience of CII. The focus and timeframe are consistent with the debate
launched at the request of the Council and the European Parliament to
address the challenges and priorities for network and information security
policy and the most appropriate instruments needed at EU level to tackle
them beyond 2012. The work conducted and the lessons learned under the
Commission's proposed action plan will be an important contribution to the
more general debate on an increased and modernised European policy in this

*Why is the Commission proposing voluntary rather than binding measures?*

Ensuring the security and resilience of CII requires cooperation between
public and private actors, which is largely based on trust. A non-binding
approach will be more effective in steering a dialogue through which
interested parties can work out the best way to cooperate and share best
practices. During the consultation process prior to the launch of this
initiative, Member States' and private sector representatives strongly
supported the proposed initiative and confirmed the need and willingness to
cooperate at EU level, as long as this remained voluntary.

This does not mean that a binding approach can not be used to enhance the
level of security and resilience of CII. Proposals by the European
Commission to reform the Electronic Communication regulatory package –
including provisions to strengthen operators’ obligations to ensure that
appropriate security measures are taken, and those on mandatory security
breach notification – show that binding measures are considered when it is
feasible and useful.

Moreover, there is not yet sufficient data on security incidents and their
impact across the different sectors to define and frame additional
regulatory measures in a consistent economic and public policy perspective.

*What are the specific objectives of the Critical Information Infrastructure
Protection initiative? *

The Commission's proposal covers the following objectives:

   - Foster cooperation, exchange of information and transfer of good policy
   practices between Member States via a newly-established *European Forum*.
   - Develop a *public-private partnership* at the European level on
   security and resilience of CII to support sharing of information and
   dissemination of good practices between public and private stakeholders.
   - Enhance *incident response capability* in the EU by increasing national
   capacities, possibly built on National or Governmental Computer Emergency
   Response Teams/Computer Security Incidents Response Teams (CERTs/CSIRTs) as
   well as by encouraging and supporting the European cooperation between these
   entities with a view to facilitate the exchange of information, technical
   measures and good practices.
   - Promote the organisation of *national and European exercises for
   contingency planning and disaster recovery* on simulated large-scale
   network security incidents.
   - Reinforce *international cooperation* on global issues, in particular
   on resilience and stability of Internet.

*What is the purpose and value of a European Forum for Member States? *

Although there are commonalities among the challenges and the issues faced,
measures and regimes to ensure the security and resilience of CII, as well
as the level of expertise and preparedness, differ across Member States.

Purely national approaches run the risk of producing fragmentation and
inefficiency across Europe. Differences in national approaches and the lack
of systematic cross-border co-operation substantially reduce the
effectiveness of domestic countermeasures, *inter alia* because, due to the
interconnectedness of CII, a low level of security and resilience of CII in
a country has the potential to increase vulnerabilities and risks in other

To overcome this situation a European effort is needed to bring added value
to national policies and programmes by fostering the development of
awareness and common understanding of the challenges; stimulating the
adoption of shared policy objectives and priorities; reinforcing cooperation
between Member States and integrating national policies in a more European
and global dimension.

These are the reasons why the Commission has proposed to establish a *European
Forum* for Member States to share information and good policy practices on
security and resilience of CII.

*Why a Public-Private Partnership for Resilience (EP3R)? *

Enhancing the security and the resilience of CII poses peculiar governance
challenges. While Member States remain ultimately responsible for defining
CII-related policies, their implementation depends on the involvement of the
private sector, which owns or controls a large number of CII. On the other
hand, markets do not always provide sufficient incentives for the private
sector to invest in the protection of CII at the level that public
authorities would normally demand.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have emerged at the national level as the
reference model to address this governance challenge. However, despite the
consensus that this approach would also be desirable on the EU level,
European PPPs have not materialised so far.

PPP at the EU level could play an important role to complement the work
carried out by Member States at national level – in particular, in areas
like the exchange/promotion of good policy practices and measures, the
implementation of cross-border security and resilience measures for CII, the
adoption of preventive measures and response strategies, etc.

A Europe-wide multi-stakeholder governance framework, which may include an
enhanced role of ENISA, could foster the involvement of the private sector
in the definition of strategic European public policy objectives as well as
operational priorities and measures. The focus would be on enhancing the
security and resilience of CII and the coordination of preventive and
response activities.

This framework would bridge the gap between national and EU policy-making
and operational reality on the ground.

*What will be the remit and the form of the proposed Public-Private
Partnership? *

The concrete remit of this PPP might initially consist of:

   - Knowledge sharing to deepen the understanding and mastering of European
   challenges for the security and resilience of CII;
   - Identification and dissemination of good baseline practices and
   commonly agreed guidelines and standards for the security and resilience of

The work of this PPP should be focused on specific issues and be
action-oriented. The topics discussed should have a cross-border or global

In terms of form, it is proposed that the setting-up of the *European Public
Private Partnership for Resilience (EP3R)* CII would follow a step-by-step
approach so that, on the one hand, stakeholders would discuss and design the
necessary building blocks that would best match their requirements and, on
the other hand, the work on the key challenges that require this kind of
approach could immediately start. The first step of this process is
the *workshop
on the EU policy dimension of vulnerability management and disclosure
process* of 31 March 2009.

*What is the role of the European Network and Information Security Agency in
this initiative?*

The Commission has called on the European Network and Information Security
Agency (ENISA) to play a key role in supporting this initiative by
encouraging dialogue and cooperation between Member States, the private
sector and other relevant players across Europe, building on the findings
and results it has already contributed in this area.

*How does this initiative relate to the European Programme on Critical
Infrastructure Protection and other EU activities in the area of justice and
home affairs? *

The activities planned in today's Communication are conducted under and in
parallel to the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection
A key element of EPCIP is the Directive on the identification and
designation of European Critical
which identifies the ICT sector as a future priority sector. One element of
the CIIP action plan is to further develop the criteria for identifying
European Critical Infrastructures for the ICT sector which will help
implement the above mentioned Directive.

The proposed actions are also complementary to existing *third pillar
– e.g. fight against cyber-crime – as envisaged by the Council Framework
Decision on Attacks Against Information Systems adopted in 2005
As the CIIP initiative focuses on prevention, preparedness and awareness to
enhance the intrinsic security and resilience of CII, it does not conflict
with or duplicate the efforts carried out under the third pillar, i.e. by
police and judicial cooperation addressing measures to prevent, fight and
prosecute criminal and terrorist activities targeting CII.

*How does the Commission's action plan relate to international efforts in
this area? *

This initiatives takes stock and builds upon recognised international
principles such as the G8 principles on
the UN General Assembly Resolution 58/199 'Creation of a global culture of
cybersecurity and the protection of critical information
the recent OECD
Recommendation on the Protection of Critical Information

The initiative complements work conducted by NATO on cyber-security –
specifically the common policy on cyber defence and the activities of the
Cyber Defence Management Authority (CDMA), announced by NATO on April 2008,
as well as the outputs of the NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of
Excellence <http://transnet.act.nato.int/WISE/TNCC/CentresofE/CCD>(CCD-COE).
NATO initiatives are mostly focused on military defence whereas
the Commission's proposal works to facilitate the coordination and
cooperation of public and private resources and capabilities across Member

*Does the action plan include regulatory measures for the Internet?*

The action plan does not propose any measure aimed at regulating the
Internet. It proposes three complementary activities to enhance the
resilience and stability of the Internet.

   - The Commission will launch a Europe-wide debate to define EU priorities
   for the long-term resiliency and stability of the Internet.
   - The Commission will work with Member States to define appropriate
   principles and guidelines for Internet resilience and stability.
   - The Commission, together with Member States, will develop a roadmap to
   promote these principles and guidelines at the global level, building upon
   strategic cooperation with third countries.

*What is the timing envisaged by the action plan? *

The different actions have different targets and timelines, running from
2009 until the end of 2011. However continuous European efforts will still
be needed beyond 2011. A stock-taking exercise will already be conducted at
the end of 2010 and lessons learned will be used as an input into the debate
on the future of Network and Information Security beyond 2012.

*How will the Commission monitor the implementation of the action plan?*

The Commission identified in the impact assessment of the
number of indicators for achieving the objectives of the action plan.
These include, the number of meetings and conferences organised at EU level
with relevance to security and resilience of CII; the agreements on common
terminology and procedures for the collection and dissemination of
information on economic impacts of security incidents; the number of
National/Governmental CERTs participating in the European Governmental CERTs
Group; the number of international agreements on mutual assistance,
recovery, and remedial strategies for the resilience and stability of the



* A group of computers, often very large, that malicious hackers have
brought under their control. While most owners are oblivious to the
infection, the networks of tens of thousands of computers are used to launch
spam e-mail campaigns, denial-of-service attacks or online fraud schemes.
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