Wrap-up: 2024 CIRI Annual Meeting

6/3/2024 12:58:37 PM Cassandra Smith

Keynote speaker Eric Goldstein (executive assistant director for cybersecurity, CISA) speaks at the 2024 CIRI Annual Meeting
Keynote speaker Eric Goldstein (executive assistant director for cybersecurity, CISA) speaks at the 2024 CIRI Annual Meeting

Since 2015, the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been addressing the vital mission of enhancing the security and resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure. This mission has become increasingly urgent over the past nine years as threats and attacks on that infrastructure - from sophisticated criminal organizations and hostile nation-states - have become more frequent and more complex. CIRI and its many partners from academia, the private sector, and government gathered in the Washington DC area to hear the current and evolving needs of the customer community; to reflect and report on current CIRI resilience projects and initiatives; and to frame and outline future research priorities to address the ever-evolving threat landscape.

“For almost a decade, CIRI has partnered with our sponsors at the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to achieve our mission-objectives executing impactful resilience research; developing and sustainably delivering advanced solutions to the field; and by educating and developing a resilience-focused workforce for the nation. Never has this mission been more urgent than now. As we look to the future we will not only continue to focus on this mission here at home, but we will be collaborating with our friends and allies around the world to assist them in enhancing the security and resilience of their critical infrastructure,” said CIRI director Dr. David Nicol.

This two-day event featured distinguished keynote speakers including Rear Admiral John Vann, Commander, United States Coast Guard Cyber Command who discussed pressing cyber security challenges in the Maritime Transportation System – an infrastructure that is vital to national security and our nation’s economy. Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director for cybersecurity, CISA, discussed the many initiatives underway at CISA to address our nation’s current and evolving cybersecurity challenges And Billy Bob Brown, Jr., executive assistant for emergency communications, CISA, spoke about the criticality of the emergency communications infrastructure; the urgent challenge of keeping this life-line infrastructure always available; and acknowledged the work that CIRI has been doing to accomplish that goal.

CIRI research partners from around the country presented updates on a diverse portfolio of projects and initiatives currently underway at CIRI. This portfolio included research projects that are: evaluating the potential impacts of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events on 5G telecommunications; evaluating the need for and potential alternatives for delivering timing signal resilience for 5G telecommunications and Land Mobile Radio infrastructures; modeling maritime port operations to assess the operational and financial impacts of disruption scenarios; modeling characteristics of wildfires to predict potential impacts of future wildfires on critical infrastructure and to provide real-time analysis of a wildfire to inform firefighting and containment efforts; developing technology and techniques for virtualizing operational technology (OT) and industrial controls systems (ICS) testbeds to significantly improve access to such testbeds for use in education, training, and research; researching the landscape of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices to develop education/training curricula for law enforcement officers on the impact, practicalities, and use of IoT device data when conducting law enforcement operations and investigations; and researching to identify and develop a framework to help maritime system planners to optimize the type, placement, deployment and maintenance of aids to navigation to enhance the safety and resilience of the maritime transportation system.

Several products developed at CIRI that are transitioning to commercialization and/or field deployment were also highlighted at the meeting. These products/technologies included: the Port Disruptions Tool for assessing the operational and financial impact of potential disruptions to maritime port operations; the Probabilistic Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure System Modeling (PRIISM) Framework for identifying and assessing cross-sector risks stemming from critical infrastructure interdependencies; the Cyber Secure Dashboard which operationalizes organizational cyber risk management processes to conform to national cybersecurity standards and best practices; and the Cyber Talent Bridge which allows organizations to manage their cybersecurity workforce in accordance with the NIST NICE Framework.

The meeting also included a discussion of a new CIRI initiative developed in response to the Biden Administration’s National Cyber Strategy whereby CIRI will be engaging with NATO and European Union partners in government, the private sector, and academia to collaborate on critical infrastructure security and resilience projects.

“The annual meeting was a great opportunity for CIRI and its many partners to review the vital work we have been doing to address our urgent mission objective: to sustainably enhance the security and resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure. That mission is ongoing and critical to our nation and to our friends and allies around the world. As we face increasing and diverse threats to that infrastructure, we remain committed to continuing our important work on into the future.” said Nicol.