Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently said that cyberterrorism is now our biggest security challenge. Here’s a video of the news program Energy Now (uploaded August 16, 2011) with James Woosley, former head of the CIA under the Clinton Administration.
On Thursday, Twitter was attacked for a second time in recent months by a group calling themselves the Iranian Cyber Army. The strike re-directed traffic to an anti-American message. Click here to read about the attack in an article from the Christian Science Monitor. Note the following quote by James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert, as well as the additional text at the end of the article:
“Cyberattacks are a big deal and people tend to underestimate that,” he says. Indeed, cyberwar is a growing concern for the US and is a top national security priority for the Obama administration. But, as Lewis points out, real cyber warfare would involve attacks on financial institutions, electrical grids, transportation and computer networks – which would be viewed as an act of real war.
Every morning, I spend about 20 minutes looking over my RSS news feeds, all related to emergency preparedness. Currently, most of the news is about the just-ended hurricane season, however, I’ve noticed a trend toward a greater concern about the threat of bioterrorism. The two events that seem to have prompted this concern are the release of the progress report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism coupled with the amount of time it has taken to distribute the H1N1 vaccine. The Commission’s report warns that “The biological threat is greater than the nuclear; the acquisition of deadly pathogens, and their weaponization and dissemination in aerosol form, would entail fewer technical hurdles than the theft or production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and its assembly into an improvised nuclear device.” This warning along with the potential of an accidental incident dealing with harzardous materials should prompt us all to be looking at our shelter-in-place procedures.
Cyber terrorism is also getting a lot of attention, thanks in part by last month’s 60 Minutes report. A potential target, experts warn, is the power grid, so you may want to keep your print core textbooks accessible and up-to-date.
Statistically, December is the month with the fewest tornadoes, so this is a good time to be looking over your tornado response procedures. We’re also seeing a downward trend of H1N1 activity. Hopefully, you all have a solid pandemic plan in place in the event that the virus spikes again in the winter or spring. (If not, check out our Pandemic Planning Resources page.) And if you have a pandemic plan, you are therefore ready for a severe winter storm, as many of the steps you would take in a pandemic (e.g. reduced staffing, work from home) you could also take with a severe winter storm.
At the NN/LM Greater Midwest Region (GMR) resource library directors’ meeting this past week, there was a discussion about the power grid for the United States. Consensus was that when looking for a backup library, you may want to consider finding a library outside your power grid. Here is a map from the Department of Energy detailing the location of the three major power grids. For further information on blackouts see How Blackouts Work from the website Howstuffworks.com.
In the October 30th issue of The Christian Science Monitor, staff writer Mark Clayton reported on the increasing attacks on the US infrastructure. The article will give you a good understanding of the vulnerability of our infrastructure and the need for us to plan for possible long-term power outages.
The Power Systems Engineering Research Center maintains a web page titled “Resources for Understanding Electric Power Reliability.” It’s a great site for obtaining extensive information on blackouts and other studies. Below is a map of the power grid in the United States. To its right is a satellite image of the blackout that occurred in the Northeast on August 14, 2003.