Vital Infrastructure, Technology, and Logistics (VITAL)

Protecting Our Critical Infrastructures

US critical infrastructures encompass highly visible sectors like transportation, water, and agriculture as well as less conspicuous sectors like energy, finance, and information technology (IT). If any of these infrastructures were attacked, whether by hostile nation-states or by non-state actors, it would have major negative impacts on our national security and the economic well-being of our country. Even less nefarious disruptions to the supply chain, caused by inclement weather for example, are increasingly worrisome as the global economy becomes more intertwined and interdependent.

Due to the number, scale, and complexity of these sectors, no one entity can tackle the issue of critical infrastructure vulnerability alone. Both government and industry have a shared interest in the continued stability of domestic infrastructures and their global supply chains and are thus natural allies in the efforts to secure these systems. Through improved communication and strategic planning, industry and government entities can combine and coordinate efforts in comprehensively securing critical infrastructures.

The DCIP defines the following 16 sectors as critical based on their influence on the nation’s economic health and security: chemicals, commercial facilities, communications, manufacturing, dams, defense, emergency services, energy, finance, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare, information technology (IT), nuclear facilities, transportation, and water. The number of sectors considered vital to the US is simply too great to be managed by one office of the federal government, or even by the federal government alone. Taken together, the 16 critical sectors identified by the DoD account for thousands of companies, millions of jobs, and billions of dollars of revenue changing hands across the country. The only effective way to provide comprehensive critical infrastructure protection is through a coordinated effort, both among government agencies and between government and industry. The VITAL Center aims to bridge the gap between government and industry security efforts by connecting diverse stakeholders from both worlds, creating a community of interest to create more comprehensive mechanisms of action for critical infrastructure protection.

Workshops

 

 Hardware Security Symposium

 

Employing X-Ray Tomography for Security: A Hardware Security Symposium with Michael Sutherland

On Thursday October 18th, 2018, the Potomac Institute's VITAL Center hosted Mr. Mike Sutherland of Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA), who discussed the current state of X-Ray tomography, and its current use cases for imaging the internal structure of integrated circuits in 3 dimensions using a transmission X-Ray microscope. Mr. Sutherland presented data from both lab and synchrotron-based system approaches to demonstrate many of the benefits and limitations of using X-Ray tomography. Mr. Sutherland also discussed the emerging research and development efforts in the field.

Mr. Mike Sutherland has worked as a computer scientist at DMEA since 2014. He is currently the lead researcher there working on X-Ray microscope hardware and software to image the internal nature of integrated circuits. In addition to his work on X-Ray tomography, Mr. Sutherland also works on image analysis and machine learning efforts to analyze integrated circuits for reverse engineering purposes

About the Hardware Security Symposium Speaker Series

Microelectronics are key components in our defense systems, and assuring that they are both readily available and secure is critical for US national security. Hardware-based threats can have serious impacts on military or critical infrastructure, and hardware vulnerabilities include malicious insertions, Trojan horses, counterfeit parts, and rapid obsolescence. While the USG has made large investments in software-focused cybersecurity, hardware-based approaches have not received as much attention. The Hardware Security Symposium Speaker Series brings together leading experts in Trusted microelectronics from academia, government, and Industry, to discuss hardware security threats, and ways to mitigate them.