In the byzantine Department of Homeland Security’s organization chart, issues like cyber attacks on the power grid fit under critical infrastructure protection. It’s mostly about the department’s humdrum work of encouraging private industry to protect itself. It’s a job the government never thought of before 9/11, but it’s obviously important given that most of what makes life tolerable, or could make life miserable, is privately owned.
A detailed software questionnaire and matrix that I watched being used for a security review at one New York financial exchange ran the gamut of issues. Had the employees been trained in active-shooter exercises? What was the durability rating of the barriers blocking potential truck bombs? Are employee background checks updated frequently enough? Are working relationships and liaisons in place with New York City’s anti-terror unit and the Joint Terrorism Task Force?
In an office in downtown Washington, I met a half dozen other members of Durkovich’s infrastructure protection staff. None had ever talked to a reporter. None do the kind of work that makes news. They are the unsung army of the September 12 era.
One had just come from a meeting of security directors of the nation’s dams; another talked excitedly of helping the Army, in the wake of the lone-wolf terrorist shootout at a Chattanooga recruiting center, to use analytics to identify the 350 out of 10,000 centers most in need of stepped-up protection. All had been energized by the rounds of conference calls they convened the night and morning after the Paris attacks with their liaisons in various industry sectors, particularly those in the sector that covers concert halls, malls, and sports arenas, to suggest stepped-up security measures.