Effects of a Cyber Attack on our Nations Infrastructure and Economy Kelly O’Connor HSM 305 Professor, Makuch May 5, 2010 The damaging effects on infrastructure through cyber terrorism have a critical effect on a Nation that can collapse an economy and destroy a nation’s safety. A very important infrastructure, that after 9/11 has changed dramatically, is mass transit or trains systems. The Transportation Security Agency modified their effort so step up and protect US commuters and infrastructure however rail has been neglected and under funded.

An important question is what precautions have been made in order to secure this infrastructure from a cyber attack? What determines the infrastructure to be considered critical? Why would transportation (rail to be exact) be a critical infrastructure and what effects would a cyber attack have on this system? In the United States our main government bodies that address the systems and security of the transportation infrastructure are the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the DHS Transportation Security Agency.

Bullock, Coppola, Haddow, and Yeletaysi (2009) Explain “TSA provides security to the nations transportation systems with primary focus on aviation security” (p233). This text also includes there are 9 billion passenger trips per year on the nation’s mass transit systems. Even with the disastrous bombing of the London Subways system in July of 2005, rail transportation still has not seen the attention or the proper funding from TSA so ensure more security measures. Makuch (2010) also explained “Charted with protecting all the nation’s transportation systems, TSA is faced with an enormous challenge.

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Unfortunately, they are unable to meet all the demands and have focused 84% of their efforts on aviation security and left the other means of transport dramatically under funded. Ports, busses, trains, and trucking do not appear to pose as great a threat as aviation, given the reactionary mentality of the US government following 9/11. I fear it will take a significant attack via train or truck to warrant additional funding for these other modes of transport. ”(para6) This was instructor guidance given in a synapse overview of weekly readings.

Copeland, Fischer, and Moteff (2003) “The Bush Administration’s proposal for establishing a Department of Homeland Security includes a function whose responsibilities include the coordination of policies and actions to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure. However, the proposal did not specify criteria for how to determine criticality or which infrastructures should be considered critical. ” (Para1) Rail Transportation faces more imparities when pertaining to the importance whether it be labeling it as a critical infrastructure or the importance it has within transportation and security.

Wagner (2005) states “Mass transit is a critical infrastructure of urban environments worldwide. The public uses it extensively, with roughly 9 billion mass transit trips occurring annually in the United States alone, according to the U. S. Department of Transportation data. Its benefits per traveler include lower emissions of air pollutants and energy usage and high speeds and safety records relative to many other common modes of transportation that contribute to human health and safety. However, mass transit is vulnerable to intrusions that compromise its use and the realization of the important benefits it brings. (Para 1) Is the rail system worth the commute considering the vulnerability it has for a catastrophic terrorist attack? As critical as the situation is, there are plans to improve on the impending threats. FRA plans to initiate research regarding the application of security technologies to railroads. Portable bomb/explosive detection and trace technology will be explored for potential use to detect such hazards on the Nation’s railroads, particularly passenger trains. Advanced railroad yard trespasser detection technology will also be researched.

FRA plans to assess the potential consequences of a cyber attack on the railroad system of the U. S. in concert with the national effort to increase the security of critical infrastructures. These efforts will be coordinated with other modes in USDOT to ensure the railroad industry takes advantage of promising technologies. Some in-house efforts on railroad security were started during FY 2000 and this work is expected to continue for 5 to 10 years. References Bullock, J. A. , Haddow, G. D. , Coppola, D. P. & Yeletaysi, S. (2009). Introduction to homeland security: Principles of all-hazards response (3rd ed. . Oxford, UK: Butterworth-heinemann. Kamien, D. (2006). The McGraw-Hill homeland security: The defensive guide for law enforcement, EMT, and all other security professionals. New York: McGraw-Hill. Moteff, J ; Copeland, C ; Fischer, John Critical Infrastructures: What Makes an Infrastructure Critical? Retrieved on May 2, 2010 from http://oai. dtic. mil/oai/oai? verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA467306 Wagner, R. F, (2005) Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, 295 Lafayette Street, 10012 New York, NY


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