“Don’t run with scissors.” We’ve all heard this as kids, and cautioned it as adults. When hearing these words, the “offending” child stops running, responsibly points the blades of the scissors downwards and continues forward at a slow, cautious pace. Safety and security has been restored!
If only these three simple steps could be applied to ensuring the security of our nation’s critical infrastructure. It’s something I’ve been thinking about as November is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (CISR) Month, which, among other functions, serves to heighten awareness of the high level of complexity involved in protecting the country’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors.
The reality is that new threats and potential sources of threats to infrastructure continue to emerge. That’s why some of the most important parts of what we do to improve security in the water and wastewater sector are focused on partnerships, preparedness and practicing. We partner with environmental organizations, public service commissions, the DHS, FBI and more to share information and promote security best practices. Together with other utilities and the EPA, we collaborate to plan and implement programs aimed at achieving common goals for security and resilience. And we’ve developed security awareness training for physical and cybersecurity risks, incident response and emergency preparedness.
It’s this training that reinforces the shared responsibility for security and supports a safe and secure work environment. Although we work hard to prevent incidents from happening, we must also prepare for them. Of course, strong safety performance is simply “how we work” every day at every level, and one of the ways we keep life flowing for employees, contractors, and the public.
The protection of facilities and technology systems, as well as customer and employee information is, and will remain, a top priority. Nobody at American Water would ever think of running with scissors, but we are definitely moving forward with CISRs, for the security and resiliency of the systems critical to the safety, prosperity and wellbeing of the nation.