How much is U.S. critical infrastructure worth to you?

April 17, 2007
If you’ve ever wondered just how secure your plant might be or if you’ve implemented the right level of security measures, then the Web-based infrastructure protection training program offered at no cost by the federal government is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered just how secure your plant might be or if you’ve implemented the right level of security measures, then the Web-based infrastructure protection training program offered at no cost by the federal government is for you. Plants like yours are key players in an industry whose facilities and systems are potentially at risk in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Making your plant more secure could also save you some money.

The course, “Introduction to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP),” takes from 90 minutes to two hours to complete and was jointly developed by the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute (EMI). Businesses can measure the savings in many ways over time, but the key savings are in reducing risk and preventing loss and interruption of essential business in the face of terrorist threats, attacks or natural disasters, says Bob Stephan, DHS’ assistant secretary for infrastructure protection.

The training includes interviews and observations from various public and private-sector security partners regarding the value of implementing the NIPP. Completing this course and participating in the implementation of NIPP adds value by enhancing a company’s ability to assess its own risk and refine its business continuity and security plans while at the same time contributing to the security and economic vitality of the nation.

“It would be a success if the NIPP became part of the background; became part of the fabric of the way companies think about their investments in human capital and their investments in cyber intellectual capital; in data processing and in their physical plant,” says Alfred Berkeley, chairman and CEO of Pipeline Financial Services LLC. “I think that just small changes on the part of thousands of businesses can lead to a huge benefit in our resiliency and our ability to protect our infrastructure from harm.”

The course can help plant managers by providing them with more context for information sharing as well as additional resources for information — particularly the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) -- and a better understanding of the National Asset Data Base and the types of information their plants might be asked to provide as part of a data call, explains Stephan. It’s designed to teach participants the benefits of participating in the NIPP.

Some examples of the opportunities for improving security at manufacturing facilities include greater focus on buffer zone protection, insider threats and cyber vulnerabilities, explains Stephan. Buffer Zone Protection Plans help manufacturing plants fend off evil from outside the fence line. Insider threat issues include fostering a culture involving the whole work force in a security challenge program aimed at making sure that individuals with access are credentialed and wearing the proper badge. It also includes workforce surety to ensure that contract employees are fully screened. Assessing cyber vulnerabilities and taking mitigating actions also can be effective ways to improve security.

The course explains how important it is to protect and ensure continuity of critical infrastructure and key resources (CI/KR) of the United States; describes how the NIPP provides the unifying structure for integrating CI/KR protection efforts into a single national program; defines CI/KR and protection in the context of the NIPP; identifies the relevant authorities and roles of NIPP security partners; describes how using the risk management framework ensures a steady state of protection within and across the CI/KR sectors; identifies the risk management activities implemented by NIPP security partners; and explains how the NIPP fosters information sharing, provides guidance on the content of the CI/KR protection-related aspects of homeland security plans and helps to ensure an effective, efficient CI/KR protection program over the long term.

Participants have the option of completing the final examination and receiving a Certificate of Completion from the DHS Emergency Management Institute (EMI). Participants also may simply review the course material without taking the exam. The course [redundant] may be accessed through the EMI Independent Study Web site at (select course number IS-860).

The DHS Office of Infrastructure Security also has approximately 80 Protection Security Advisors (PSA) stationed throughout the country to work with manufacturing plants. PSA conduct site assistance visits, identify opportunities to implement and improve security measures and coordinate with local and state officials.

E-mail Managing Editor Ken Schnepf at [email protected].

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