[ISN] Ridge: Plant, Port Security Lacking

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Feb 27 2003 - 22:53:39 PST

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    Ike Seamans
    NBC 6 News Team
    February 26, 2003
    MIAMI -- Just two weeks ago, Florida homeland security officials tried 
    to assure the public that the state's power plants, water facilities 
    and other infrastructure are safe. 
    Now the federal homeland security chief says Florida's plans might not 
    be good enough. 
    Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge addressed the nation's utilities 
    commissioners on Wednesday, telling them that security is not yet good 
    enough at many critical facilities like power plants. 
    Ridge said that effective immediately, his department would put an 
    increased emphasis on protecting the nation's infrastructure -- 
    especially telecommunications and utilities -- both of which could be 
    prime terrorist targets according to the federal government. 
    "You do damage potentially to the grid, and you have affected how a 
    community can operate." Ridge warned. "What you do with systems that 
    are interdependent (will) have far-reaching consequences on a 
    community or a region." 
    Ridge said the Homeland Security Department has two new units 
    dedicated to improving the detection and prevention of terrorist 
    Without increased security, experts fear that terrorists could gain 
    access to critical infrastructure. And it isn't just terrorists who 
    could find it easy to gain access. Recently, a small Massachusetts 
    airport closed temporarily when hackers shut off its electricity after 
    tapping into the local power company's electrical grid. 
    And in Arizona recently, a 12-year-old boy broke into the computer 
    that runs one of that state's dams, and operated the floodgates. 
    According to federal statistics, 70 percent of the nation's power 
    plants, including nuclear plants, reported being hacked in the past 
    "Any 13-year-old with an Internet connection and a little spare time 
    can be a hacker," cyberterrorism expert. Paul Henry said. "Why 
    wouldn't an al-Qaida operative take that same opportunity?" 
    Ridge said the target opportunities for terrorists are endless. 
    "We have nearly 3,000 power plants (in the United States), over 3000 
    water reservoirs, 2 million miles of oil and gas lines, 800,000 miles 
    of sewer lines goes on and on," Ridge said, calling the potential 
    targets "critical infrastructure." 
    With the United States on high alert for potential terrorist attacks, 
    the nation's seaports have stepped up security, particularly since 
    some experts say the ports are more vulnerable than airports. 
    At some ports, including the Port of Miami, X-ray scanners are now 
    being used to search cargo trucks. 
    The Homeland Security Department is also looking at new technologies, 
    including neutron beam scanners that experts say can spot dangerous 
    material such as explosives in ship containers. 
    On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security will absorb 175,000 
    new employees from 28 federal agencies including customs, immigration, 
    border patrol and the Coast Guard. 
    Security experts hope the new agency can close some of the gaps in 
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