In accordance with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7
(HSPD-7) – Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and Protection, the National
Communications System (NCS) serves as the Sector Specific Agency (SSA) for the Communications Sector.
SSAs are Federal departments and agencies identified under HSPD-7 as responsible for the protection activities in specified Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) sectors. The SSAs implement the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) framework and guidance as tailored to the specific characteristics and risk landscapes of each of the CIKR sectors. The NCS is responsible for coordinating all communications sector activities and is accountable to the Federal Government’s executive and legislative branches to demonstrate progress in the sector's CIKR protective posture.
The communications infrastructure is a complex system of systems that incorporates multiple technologies and services with diverse ownership. The infrastructure includes wireline, wireless, satellite, cable, and broadcasting, and provides the transport networks that support the Internet and other key information systems. With a strong well-refined focus on risk management, long-established processes and procedures for network security and rapid response and recovery under all hazards assure the continued operation of vital communications services.
The Communications Sector is an integral component of the U.S. economy, as it underlies the operations of all businesses, public safety organizations, and government. Over the last 25 years, the communications sector has evolved from a predominantly voice-centric monolithic service into a diverse, competitive, and interconnected industry using terrestrial, satellite, and wireless transmission systems.
These services are very interconnected; satellite, wireless, and wireline providers who depend on each other to carry and terminate their traffic, routinely share facilities and technology to ensure interoperability. Long established processes and procedures for network security and rapid response and recovery under all hazards ensure the continued operation of vital communications services. Focused risk management and infrastructure protection are integral to the sector’s business continuity planning and network design processes.
The private sector owns the vast majority of the communications critical infrastructure in the United States. This requires the NCS to work closely with the private sector and its industry associations to identify critical infrastructure, assess and prioritize risks, develop protective programs, and measure program effectiveness. The private sector and government have two councils that support the communications sector - the Communications Sector Coordinating Council (CSCC) and the Communications Government Coordinating Council (CGCC). .
Communications Sector Coordinating Council
The CSCC consists of 45 private sector organizations representing cable, commercial and public broadcasters; information service providers; satellite communications providers; utility telecommunications providers, service integrators, equipment vendors, and the wireless and wireline owners and operators, as well as their respective trade associations. The CSCC assists the CGCC by coordinating initiatives to improve the physical and cyber security of sector assets; to ease the flow of information within the sector, across sectors and with designated Federal agencies; and to address issues related to response and recovery under all hazards to assure the continued operation of vital communications services. A full list of CSCC members is available at http://www.commscc.org.
Communications Government Coordinating Council
The Communications Government Coordinating Council provides coordination of CIKR strategies and activities, policy, and communication across government and between the government and the communications sector to support the Nation’s homeland security mission. In addition, the CGCC coordinates with and supports the efforts of the CSCC to plan, implement, and execute sufficient and necessary sector-wide security to support CIKR. The CGCC serves to leverage complementary resources within government, as well as between government and industry.
Currently, the CGCC consists of members from the Federal Communications Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce, Department of Interior, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Defense.
Sector Specific Plans
The NCS is responsible for the Communications Sector Specific Plan (SSP), which details the application of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) risk management framework to the unique characteristics and risk landscape of the communications sector and provide the means by which the NIPP is implemented across all CIKR sectors. The NCS developed an SSP through a coordinated effort involving their public and private sector CIKR partners. The Communications SSP was last published in June 2010.
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