Point of Failure (POF)

Point of Failure (POF)

Point of failure refers to critical component or part of a system that if it fails to operate, the whole system stops or malfunctions. This presents a weakness to a system that aim to achieve high availability and reliability. Where a point of failure exists and fails in areas such as data center and information technology, there is a possibility of compromising of the available workloads. The magnitude of the failure depends with the location and interdependencies of the components of the system.

The dependency of a multiple systems to a single component without alternative presents conditions for a point of failure. One such situation is presented by the America’s Global Positioning System. The GPS systems are highly precise and free for use for everyone. Various systems such as cellphone networks, first-responder systems, computer and financial networks, and electrical grid rely on the GPS system. The risk in this is presented by the fact that the GPS signals are weak and can be easily disrupted (Goward, 2017). The Department of Homeland Security has already pointed out this as single point of failure for the critical infrastructure. From this, it is evident that a point of failure is created by conditions such as, reliance by critical infrastructure and systems, lack of alternative and ease of access by un-authorized people.

The Department of Homeland Security needs to develop, manage and operate capabilities that offers backup positioning, navigation and timing systems that can offer support to critical infrastructure in the event that there is a disruption in the Global Positioning System. The DHS should also profile people with access to sensitive and classified information and keep a tab on them as they also make up a point of failure in terms of intelligence. The DHS should learn how to ensure that no single personnel has access to huge chunk of information thereby avoiding the “Snowden scenario” of leaking classified information. The DHS agencies should learn ways of establishing cooperation and interactions amongst themselves (Perrow, 2006).


Goward, D. (2017). US DOT- “GPS Single Point of Failure for Transportation’. Retrieved from https://rntfnd.org/2017/01/11/us-dot-gps-single-point-of-failure-for-transportation/

Perrow, Charles.  (2006). “The Disaster after 9/11: The Department of Homeland Security and the Intelligence Reorganization.” Homeland Security Affairs 2, Article 3 (https://www.hsaj.org/articles/174

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