Homeland security department tackles plant and cyber security

Vulnerability assessment tool for control systems, Cyber Storm and Green Scorpion tests.

Along with its work on Cyber Security (critical information infrastructure), the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is addressing the safety of process control systems and facilities. The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team’s (US-CERT) ‘Einstein’ program provides an early warning system of internet hacking and other ‘malicious activity.’ A ‘Trusted Internet Connections Initiative’ is to offer enhanced security for federal ‘.gov’ domains. DHS has also created a Control Systems Vulnerability Assessment Tool to help reduce vulnerabilities. Last month the nation’s largest cyber security exercise, Cyber Storm II, brought together public and private sector partners to test response to a simulated attack on critical sectors of the economy.

ESS Expo

At the 2008 ESS Expo tradeshow in Phoenix this month, the DHS was again in action with the ‘Green Scorpion’ exercise. Here terrorists gain access to a large chemical processing facility and are countered by emergency teams that implement ‘response strategies’ to stop the terrorists, free hostages, and prevent or mitigate damage to the facility and surrounding area. To spice things up, the exercise investigated how the incident might be complicated by the ‘simultaneous outbreak of a pandemic.’ Such exercises are now mandatory under the DHS Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorist Standards rule.

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