Security Technology Executive

SEP-OCT 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 59

24 SECURIT Y TECHNOLOGY E XECUTIVE • September/October 2018 • www. SECURING THE GRID Vulnerability by Concentration One of America's more worrying critical infrastructure issues has to do with the fact that major portions of several critical sectors are concentrated in close geo- graphic proximity; for example: • Energy — 43 percent of America's oil refineries are located along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. • Chemical Industry and Hazardous Materials (chlorine) — Over 38 percent of America's chlo- rine production is located in coastal Louisiana. • Transportation — Over 33 percent of America's maritime container shipments pass through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. • Transportation — Over 37 percent of America's freight railcars pass through Illinois, and over 27 percent of America's freight railcars pass through Missouri. • Pharmaceuticals — 25 percent of America's pharmaceuticals are manufactured in the San Juan Metropolitan Area, Puerto Rico. Critical Infrastructure Protection - Market Size According to the recent "Global Critical Infrastruc- ture Protection Market 2018-2028", authored by, the North American criti- cal infrastructure Protection (CIP) market is currently (2018) worth about $30 bil- lion, and will be worth about $39 billion in 2028. Physi- cal security, according to the report, is expected to account for the highest proportion of CIP spending , followed by network security. The largest segment in physical security expenditure will be the deployment of security- related personnel. Vulnerable Critical Infrastructure Sectors The following list explores some of the vulnerabilities identified in America's critical infrastructure: Communications The communications sector is huge and diverse, cov- ering from traditional voice services, through all Inter- net-related services, to accessing all control devices in every other sector. Without properly functioning communications, it is difficult to imagine the smooth operation of business, public safety, transportation or government, to name but a few. Yet, the sector is vulnerable to extreme weather impact, as well as to the dangers of aging and terrorist attacks. In July of 2001, for example, a freight train caught fire inside a Baltimore tunnel. The fire resulted in damage to several telecommunications and Internet backbone lines. This, in turn, led to several days of total or partial loss of communications and Internet service between Washington, D.C. and New England. The 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Center tow- ers resulted in flooding of one of the largest telecom- munications nodes in the world. Millions of voice and data lines were disconnected, leaving thousands of businesses (including the New York Stock Exchange) and residential customers without service for days. With communications, an essential, integral part of every aspect of the U.S. economy, public safety and government, the economic and national security ramifications of a physical or cyber attack on even an isolated network are almost incalculable. These events come in conjunction with the increased vul- nerability of this very same infrastructure due to inter-connectivity and growing complexity. With every signal light in every junction, every air-traffic control element interlinked though complex telecom- munications networks, even an incidental interrup- tion can easily mushroom into a colossal disruption of life and commerce. Of course, network designers and security experts are aware of these vulnerabili- ties and have developed mechanisms and proce- dures to contain and abate cyber and physical inter- ferences with smooth operations, but the situation is far from secure. America's cellular telephony network is one of the most vulnerable elements of the communications infrastructure. Cellular networks tend to collapse exactly when they're needed most – in the aftermath of a disaster. Energ y The huge electricity blackout of 2003 in the North- east demonstrated the fragility of America's aging and computer-dependent power grid. The aforemen- tioned Northeast blackout cost around $5 billion in lost productivity and left nearly 50 million people in the dark. Indeed, disruption to the nation's energy supply (electricity and fuel) can mean an economic and security disaster of unimaginable scale. The interdependence of America's power grid and the geographic concentration of America's refiner- ies creates a vulnerability that certainly attracts the attention of terrorists; indeed, many experts think that energy systems are an attractive target to cyber-criminals/terrorists. But even the impact of an "innocent" natural disaster, such as a hurricane, » The 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Center towers resulted in flooding of one of the largest telecommunications nodes in the world. «

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Security Technology Executive - SEP-OCT 2018