DHS Communications Sector Critical Infrastructure 2008 Report

2008 Sector CIKR Protection Annual Report for the Communications Sector

  • 56 pages
  • For Official Use Only
  • July 1, 2008


Executive Summary

Over the past year, the Communications Sector has made significant progress in assessing risk to its critical infrastructure/key resources (CIKR). The Communications Sector, a partnership between the Communications Government Coordinating Council (CGCC) and the Communications Sector Coordinating Council (CSCC), continued with the implementation of the Communications Sector-Specific Plan (CSSP), which provides a comprehensive riskmanagement framework that defines critical infrastructure protection roles and responsibilities for all levels of Government and private industry.

During this reporting period, the Communications Sector heavily focused on the completion of
the Communications National Sector Risk Assessment (NSRA) to meet the goals of the National
Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) and the CSSP. The NSRA identifies national level
communications architecture elements that are at elevated risk and serves as a baseline to
prioritize the communications infrastructure. In May 2008, the CSSP Implementation Working
Group (hereafter referred to as the Working Group), which consists of Federal government
representatives from the CGCC, industry representatives from the CSCC and liaison
representatives of the Information Technology Sector Coordinating Council successfully
completed the NSRA.

The NSRA provides a high level, qualitative assessment by analyzing all segments of the Sector
including broadcast, cable, satellite, wireless and wireline. The NSRA includes two overarching
assessments, one on physical threats and a second on cyber threats to the communications
infrastructure. Each assessment reflects the results of qualitative risk analyses that consider
threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences as defined in the CSSP. The NSRA concludes that
single event threats pose no substantial risk to national communications but single incidents
could affect a local or regional geographic area, which may have an impact on the national level.
The Working Group recommended continued discussion in identifying a path forward on the
following issues:

• Assessing risks associated with global communications infrastructure;
• Assessing coordinated multiple attacks;
• Assessing risks from communications dependencies;
• Assessing risks to other Critical Infrastructure Sectors, based on dependency upon
• Identifying communications architecture elements at elevated risk; and
• Obtaining additional cyber security funding.

In addition to the NSRA, industry partners continue to self-assess risk to their infrastructures and
Communications Sector security partners have already began scoping the need for additional
detailed risk assessments based on the results of the NSRA, protective programs and R&D

The National Communications System (NCS), as the Communications Sector-Specific Agency
(SSA), manages numerous protective programs that industry developed and operates to further
help reduce risk to the Communications Sector by ensuring the security of the communications
infrastructure and delivery of National Security and Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP)
communications services, with a strong focus on response and recovery. These programs
include the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), Wireless Priority
Service (WPS), and the Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) Program. The NCS has also
begun to work with industry to develop a Next Generation Priority Service (NGPS). The
overarching goal of the above programs is to improve access and expedite restoration or
provisioning for national security and emergency preparedness users should there be congestion
in the network.

In the Communications Sector, partnerships are the foundation for all protective programs. The
NCS manages various communications partnerships that aim to improve situational awareness
and the exchange of information such as the National Coordinating Center (NCC) and the
Network Security Information Exchanges, participates in the Cross-Sector Cyber Security
Working Group and closely collaborates with the National Security Telecommunications
Advisory Committee (NSTAC) and the Committee of Principals. Furthermore, the
Communications Sector industry and Government partners have an excellent and longstanding
partnership responsible for the effective implementation of the CSSP, the timely completion of
the NSRA, and the overall improvement of the Communications Sector’s defense posture.
In addition to utilizing the above protective programs, the Communications Sector continues to
perform security-related research and development (R&D), which are vital to both the protection
and the advancement of NS/EP communications as the Communications Sector continues its
transition into next generation networks. The NCS, in collaboration with industry completed a
study on the impact of pandemic influenza on communications networks and continued to
enhance its Internet data and next-generation networks (NGN) modeling and analysis
capabilities. Due to funding constraints, however, the NCS has been unable to effectively
continue the migration of its GETS services to an IP platform, which significantly jeopardizes
NS/EP communications during times of severe network congestion and/or disruption.
Furthermore, Communications Sector Government programs need additional funding to perform
detailed risk assessments and cross-dependency analyses and carry out work related to its
Modeling Simulation &Analysis (MS&A) and R&D objectives. The NCS’ budget has been
severely cut, which will impede its efforts to maintain existing and implement new programs
necessary for the execution the CSSP and the improvement of the overall security of the
Communications Sector.

The Communications Sector’s security practices focus on built-in resiliency, response, and
recovery. To ensure the security of the Communications Sector, owner/operators regularly
perform risk assessments on their facilities; maintain a suite of physical, cyber, and human
security measures; and collaborate with other companies and trade associations on best practices.
The Communications Sector continues to address issues related to threat information sharing and
the improvement of access to disaster areas for restoration crews.

Internet data modeling and analysis

The Nation is becoming ever more dependent on the Internet and data networks, which represents one of the biggest areas of growth and concern in
the Communications Sector. In response, the NCS continues to examine how Federal agencies
and departments rely on data networks, how they connect to the Internet, the vulnerabilities that
exist in Federal data network connectivity, and the consequence of disruptions in service, such as
congestion or loss, that arise due to NS/EP incidents.

In an effort to facilitate DHS support of the Federal government cyber security needs, the NCS
continues to develop NDAC capabilities for conducting network analysis. The NCS’s primary
area of focus in the past year has been the development of analytical tools and methods that
baseline the logical and physical infrastructure assets of the cyber networks. This information,
when used in concert with other critical Sector data, provides the NCS the means to assess crosssector
dependencies on the Internet. The NCS has developed a suite of tools and capabilities to
analyze this information, including the Internet Analysis Tool (IAT) and its collected datasets.
Over the past year, the IAT has been leveraged to conduct network topology assessments and
holistic analyses of federal networks and their connectivity to the Internet. Moving forward, the
NCS seeks to refine the above capability in order to better support the Trusted Internet
Connection (TIC) initiative and assist government in moving towards its cyber security goals.

Next-generation networks (NGN) modeling and analysis -The industry offers priority service
restoration to Federal departments and agencies through the GETS, WPS, and TSP programs.

NGPS is being developed by the NCS and its industry partners. However, as technological
advancements are made, the complexity of communications infrastructure and networks
increases. Complex networks involving a multitude of new and existing technologies and
protocols are referred to as NGN. As communications and IT architectures converge, priority
mechanisms that have been implemented on the PSTN, such as GETS, will be provided by IP
networks through a next generation NS/EP priority service. It is vital to the role of the NCS as
the SSA for the Communications Sector to be able to sustain NS/EP communications during
times of severe network congestion and/or disruption. Unfortunately, the NCS has been facing
severe funding constraints and therefore, its effort to continue to work with industry on the
migration of GETS services to an IP platform has been significantly hampered. It is critical that
the NCS continues with its pursuit of upgrading the GETS capability within the next couple of
years in order to maintain the GETS service.

Development of priority services is being supported by an iterative and exploratory process that
includes four main areas: architecture development, modeling and analysis, prototyping, and
industry requirements. The NCS applies modeling and analysis as an ongoing process to support
NS/EP strategic and tactical needs, such as severe congestion and infrastructure damage. The
modeling and analysis group within the NCS utilizes output from the architecture development
and industry requirement groups to help determine whether a solution satisfies a particular cost
metric or quality of service threshold. The results of these simulations can be verified through
prototyping and used by standards bodies to either modify or create new standards.
This effort’s overall objectives center around the following requirements:

  • Provide timely quantitative analyses of, and recommendations on, specific NGN GETS industry requirements issues that can be addressed by modeling.
  • Provide quantitative analyses of, and recommendations on, industry developments and corresponding NS/EP implications by developing and exercising models that track longer term industry capabilities.
  • Test the effectiveness (performance, security, availability) of candidate NS/EP protocol and technology enhancements through prototype developments and experiments.
  • Integrate prototyping capability and modeling team activities to support GETS program requirements.

This past year’s primary NCS contributions to the priority services program included continued
development of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) access model,
establishment of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core model, and the design of appropriate
call flows to accurately model the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) in a proxy server and IMS
architecture environment. The creation of a tailored user interface, the Timing Information
System (TIS), allowed for enhanced understanding of model results. Various scenarios and case
studies were demonstrated across the models including: NGN call establishment delay, call setup
performance, mobile access congestion identification, and network throttling considerations.
Many of the studies performed were in response to ad hoc questions that arose during the continued development of the NGN GETS service. Ongoing studies also include call admission
control comparisons, policy control attribute establishment, additional wireless access modeling,
wireless survivability determinations, and application server architecture demonstrations.
The benefits of the NGN event simulation models were immediately recognized through
feedback to NCS and industry partners. The accurate demonstration of NS/EP call flow
messaging, precise timing information and high fidelity environment of the models allowed
expression of complex interactions to aid decisions for the development of the NGN GETS
priority service.

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