Texas Regional Councils' Assessment of Security Vulnerabilities in Local Infrastructures
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Since September 11, 2001 terrorism was the chief concern among US citizens. Government officials were concerned on how to protect their communities from terrorism and immediately created and implemented various strategies and policies. Security experts and government officials felt that a cohesive partnership between businesses, government officials, scholars, universities, and private citizens would foster lines of communication in combating terrorism. With the creation of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, various publications outlined strategies to protect critical infrastructures and key assets. These strategies foster the partnership between government officials, businesses, and private entities and provided ideas for proactive measures in securing critical infrastructures. These strategies provided an avenue for this study.
The purpose of this study is threefold: (1) Identify and describe the potential cyber vulnerabilities and physical threats of water and energy infrastructures that are specified within documents outlined by the Department of Homeland Security (2) Identify and describe proactive measures in disaster recovery and information sharing that are specified within the literature review and documents outlined by the Department of Homeland Security and (3) Assess the Texas water and energy infrastructure vulnerability from the point of view of Texas Regional Council leaders.
This research assessed the Texas water & energy infrastructures vulnerability from the point of view of Texas Regional Council leaders. The key areas of concern are physical security threats and vulnerabilities to computer systems. In addition, opinions regarding disaster recovery and information sharing were reviewed. A survey instrument collected data and information from twenty – four Texas Regional Council leaders. Simple statistical methods were used to interpret the results.
The findings in the research demonstrated a high level of concern regarding vulnerabilities to cyber threats on both water and electricity infrastructures. In addition, respondents expressed a high level of concern with physical threats in both water and electricity infrastructures. The one caveat was the fire damage with relation to water systems. This particular threat was moderately received.
The majority of the respondents were moderately satisfied with the various disaster recovery planning methods in Texas local governments. Respondents expressed a moderate satisfaction with disaster recovery methods in both water and energy infrastructures in Texas local governments. Respondents were equally neutral and dissatisfied with the disaster recovery planning within Texas local governments. In addition, respondents expressed dissatisfaction with information sharing among government officials (local, state and federal) in both water and electricity infrastructures. They also expressed dissatisfaction with the information sharing regarding security measures and disaster recovery planning between local governments and private entities.
This study illustrates the concerns of these respondents who represent part of the Texas Homeland Security initiatives. These concerns echo the anxiety that most feel around the country. Security means safety. Citizens want accountability and would like to feel safe from terrorist acts. At this time, most terrorists are developing ways to exploit information and plan out innovative and disastrous attacks. Americans want to feel safe in their communities. They look upon their government officials to provide this security for them.