The protection of critical national infrastructure (CNI) is a complex issue and security services are tasked with defending a multitude of targets. Terrorist groups continue to not only threaten civilians, but also communications networks, the emergency services, energy plants, financial institutions, governments, health services, transport links and natural resources.
One example of this is the confirmed threats to global transportation, which show no sign of abating. The most recent instance being the downing of a Russian charter plane flying from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg, which killed all 224 passengers on board. ISIL claimed responsibility and vowed to continue in the same vein.
However, the threat posed to CNI is not exclusive to physical threats and action. The issue is multifaceted, and public and private entities are increasingly at risk of cyber-attacks. NSA Director, Admiral Michael Rogers, recently revealed that several foreign governments had hacked into US energy, water and fuel distribution systems, potentially damaging essential services. He noted that the attacks on US infrastructure networks were costing hundreds of billions of dollars and would have truly significant, almost catastrophic, failures if action was not taken.
A 2015 report into the destruction of the majority BP-owned Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Turkey recently declared it a targeted cyber-attack. At the time, it was thought to be one of the most secure pipelines in the world. Yet, attackers were able to beat the security systems through a wireless network, allowing them to tamper with the systems and cause severe physical damage while remaining out of sight and anonymous.
Terrorism is not just about violent attacks on people and property. Disrupted communications systems, damaged assets and tarnished reputations can cause immediate and long-term harm to a business. This makes these courses of action equally attractive from the terrorist’s point of view.
CNI will always be a prime target for terrorists and protecting it is becoming an immense and complex task. From 19-20 April, the free-to-attend Critical National Infrastructure & Business Reliance conference will take place at Security & Counter Terror Expo 2016, allowing security professionals to address the issues facing nations and businesses.
Focusing on the four key areas outlined in UK government’s CONTEST strategy, the conference will aim to aid public and private entities to identify, assess, prioritise, and protect critical infrastructure and key resources so that they can detect, prevent, deter, devalue, and mitigate deliberate efforts to destroy, incapacitate or exploit a nation’s CNI.
The Critical National Infrastructure & Business Reliance conference will feature a series of presentations examining the policy and strategy responses to today’s terror threat. Attendees will hear from the likes of Thomas Wuchte, Head on Anti-Terrorism Issues, Action Against Terrorism Unit, OSCE, who is set to discuss the latest initiatives of the regional organization in the protection of critical national infrastructure in Europe in his keynote presentation.
“We rely on a sophisticated electric energy infrastructure to bring us water, light, heat, and the power to run the many tools and devices we use almost every minute of our waking lives. If it were to stop functioning, so would life as we know it” said Wuchte. “The lesson we need to learn is that it is crucial to be aware of the vulnerability of the infrastructure we rely on. We need to invest thought, time and money into its protection. The key to ensuring that a disaster will never happen is minimizing the possibility that it could.”
A total of 20 high ranking officials and academics will lead the conference, providing invaluable insight and information. Among those confirmed to speak are Inspector Chris Boyle, Strategic Partnerships – Prevent, National Counter Terrorism Policing HQ; Detective Chief Inspector Colin Smith, CT Police Adviser, Home Office Science – Centre for Applied Science & Technology (CAST), Home Office; Dvir Rubinshtein, Manager, Aviation Security Operation Centre (ASOC), Israeli Ministry of Transport; Andrew McClumpha, Director, McClumpha Associates Ltd; and Dan Byles, Chairman, Smarter UK.
David Thompson, Event Manager of Security & Counter Terror Expo, added: “The protection of CNI has never been more important. Today, an attack can happen at any time and at practically any location. The Critical National Infrastructure & Business Resilience session will offer delegates a fantastic platform to discuss best practice and identify the latest techniques that can be introduced to minimise the risks to communications networks, the emergency services, financial institutions and many more key national infrastructures.”
In addition to the Critical National Infrastructure & Business Reliance, there will be a series of specialist free-to-attend conferences at Security & Counter Terror Expo focussing on the Cyber Threat Intelligence – presented by techUK, Transport Security Live and Advanced Technologies Live.
Security & Counter Terror Expo 2016 is co-located with Ambition – the EPRR Expo – and Forensics Europe Expo.
To register to attend Security & Counter Terror Expo or for further information, please visit www.counterterrorexpo.com