Security Network looks at critical infrastructure protection

Thursday, May 4, 2006

SAN DIEGO, Calif.--The Security Network, a 501c3 non-profit organization looking to foster collaboration throughout the United States security marketplace and introduce San Diego as a national security testing ground, hosted its first Critical Infrastructure Seminar here, April 28, at the Spectrum Center at National University. Attracting roughly 125 attendees, the half-day gathering featured speakers representing a wide swath of the security industry, from military members to Sheriff's department officers, security directors to systems integrators.
Michael Jones, chairman of the Security Network, along with being chairman of the Securing New Ground conference and founder of ProFinance Associates, led off the day by noting, "85 percent of all critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector." The purpose of the gathering, he said, was to emphasize the many stakeholders involved in critical infrastructure security and to, at the conclusion of the event, kick-off a Critical Infrastructure Security Working Group, as part of the Security Network, which would work toward establishing best practices to be tested in the San Diego area.
One of the Security Network's main tenets is, despite its national outlook, a belief that San Diego is a natural security testing ground due to being one of the very few cities with an airport, shipping port, military base, nuclear reactor and international border, all of which present different security challenges, along with the standard educational, commercial and industrial security challenges that all cities face.
Following Jones was an impressive array of speakers, including FBI officer Kiffa Shirley, introducing InfraGard, a public-private organization established by the FBI to help create a national cyber and physical security information clearinghouse. Next was Amy Waters, national roadways vector specialist for the DHS Science and Technology Counter Measures Test Beds Program; as a representative of DHS, she took a bit of heat for a recent visit by Secretary Michael Chertoff, whereby he indicated that San Diego didn't constitute a high-risk city and therefore deserved to lose nearly $14 million in anti-terrorism funding.
Erroll Southers, deputy director of the California Office of Homeland Security, gave a disturbing picture of California's many near-misses with terrorists before giving way to a panel discussion featuring four individuals charged directly with protecting critical infrastructure in the San Diego area: Mark Denari, aviation security and public safety director for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority; Gary Eaton, director of operations and maintenance for the San Diego County Water Authority; Bret Lane, vice president of environmental, safety and facilities and chief environmental officer for San Diego Gas & Electric; and Steve Gautereaux, vice president of network management for Cox Communications, the cable and telecom provider for much of San Diego. Each gave a brief presentation before convening a panel discussion that fielded questions from attendees.
At the event's end, Security Network president Lou Kelly (see the March issue of Security Systems News for an interview with Kelly regarding the Security Network) announced the formation of the Critical Infrastructure Working Group, to be headed by co-chairs Kim Sparo, program manager, energy group, at General Atomics, and San Diego County Water Authority's Eaton. Their "top priority," he said, "is prevention of damage caused by terrorist attacks and natural disasters," with a "focus on improved communications and coordination."
"We need," said Kelly, "to stop what is going to happen before it happens."