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Homeland Security Components

Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources

Protecting and ensuring the continuity of the critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) of the United States are essential to the nation's security, public health and safety, economic vitality, and way of life.

  • Critical Infrastructure are the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, public health or safety, or any combination thereof.
  • Key Resources are publicly or privately controlled resources essential to the minimal operations of the economy and government.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 (HSPD-7)  established U.S. policy for enhancing CIKR protection by establishing a framework for NIPP partners to identify, prioritize, and protect the nation's CIKR from terrorist attacks. The directive identified 17 CIKR sectors and designated a federal Sector-Specific Agency (SSA) to lead CIKR protection efforts in each. The directive allows for the Department of Homeland Security to identify gaps in existing CIKR sectors and establish new sectors to fill these gaps. Under this authority, the Department established the Critical Manufacturing Sector in March 2008.

Each of the Sector-Specific Agencies developed a Sector-Specific Plan that details the application of the NIPP framework to the unique characteristics of their sector. The Critical Manufacturing Sector-Specific plan is under development.

Why is CIKR Protection Important?

  • Attacks on CIKR could significantly disrupt the functioning of government and business alike and produce cascading effects far beyond the targeted sector and physical location of the incident.
  • Direct terrorist attacks and natural, manmade, or technological hazards could produce catastrophic losses in terms of human casualties, property destruction, and economic effects, as well as profound damage to public morale and confidence.
  • Attacks using components of the nation's CIKR as weapons of mass destruction could have even more devastating physical and psychological consequences.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 provides the primary authority for the overall homeland security mission. This act charged the Department of Homeland Security with primary responsibility for developing a comprehensive national plan to secure CIKR and recommend “the measures necessary to protect the key resources and critical infrastructure of the United States.” This comprehensive plan is the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), published by the Department in June 2006. The NIPP provides the unifying structure for integrating a wide range of efforts for the protection of CIKR into a single national program.

This page was last reviewed/modified on December 29, 2008.