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Shields Ready: Strengthening U.S. Critical Infrastructure 

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Cybersecurity is becoming a paramount issue in protecting critical infrastructure in the United States. Recent cyberattacks have underscored the vulnerability of vital systems, prompting an urgent need for enhanced security measures.

In light of this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has introduced the “Shields Ready” campaign. This initiative aims to fortify the resilience of critical infrastructure against evolving threats and potential disruptions.

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The Shields Ready campaign is a strategic complement to CISA’s existing “Shields Up” programme. While Shields Up concentrates on immediate actions in response to specific threat intelligence during crises, Shields Ready takes a broader, emphasising pre-crisis preparedness and resilience building.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas emphasised the necessity for readiness in facing the ever-evolving threat landscape. “Shields Ready ensures our critical infrastructure is better equipped against all threats, from cyberattacks to natural disasters,” stated Mayorkas. This initiative aligns with DHS’s mission to bolster safety and security, meeting the challenges of the current era.

“In today’s evolving world, the fusion of digital interconnectivity with critical infrastructure necessitates reimagining security protocols. The Shields Ready campaign emerges as a beacon of proactive resilience, emphasising the imperative for a strategic, multi-layered approach to fortify our nation’s vital systems,” he asserted.

CISA Director Jen Easterly highlighted the campaign’s launch during Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month. “By preparing for incidents today, we aim to better equip critical infrastructure and communities for recovery in the face of future threats,” Easterly expressed, emphasising the long-term impact of preparedness on resilience.

FEMA Administrator Criswell articulated a sentiment echoing the significance of preparedness as a linchpin for swift recovery in facing adversities. “The preparedness of our infrastructure partners significantly contributes to communities’ ability to respond effectively and recover expeditiously following disasters,” Criswell underlined. Her emphasis on readiness serves as a linchpin for recovery and a proactive stance against potential disruptions, aligning with FEMA’s overarching Ready initiative.

In partnership with FEMA’s initiative, the Shields Ready campaign underscores a collective push toward prioritising preparedness as a fundamental element in fortifying the nation’s resilience. By advocating for a proactive stance, the joint initiative underlined the necessity of a comprehensive and strategic approach, aiming to respond effectively to potential threats and fortify critical systems and communities against a myriad of hazards.

The “Resolve to be Resilient” campaign urges organisations to adopt specific practices to enhance security and resilience. Some key directives include:

  1. Know the Infrastructure and Dependencies: Identify critical systems and their dependencies to ensure operational continuity.
  2. Assess the Risks: Evaluate potential threats and vulnerabilities to understand possible disruptions.
  3. Make Actionable Plans: Develop strategic risk management plans and incident response strategies to minimise downtime.
  4. Measure Progress for Continuous Improvement: Regularly assess and update plans based on real-world incidents and exercises to foster a culture of adaptability.

The Shields Ready campaign empowers organisations to prepare for, adapt to, and swiftly recover from disruptions. By promoting resilience and proactive planning, the initiative aligns with the evolving landscape of threats, fostering a more robust and responsive critical infrastructure network.

The collaboration between DHS, CISA, and FEMA underlines a concerted effort to fortify the nation’s ability to respond and recover effectively from diverse threats, safeguarding critical infrastructure and communities against potential hazards.


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