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Infrastructure Security in America

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Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:11 am

I have been gone from the forum for quite some time now.  When things here in the good ole USA started taking a turn for the worst, I switched from looking at radiation issues and aircraft accidents over to security of infrastructure.  Some of these items I will be presenting will be:  Transportation of seagoing containers for cargo, security officers, security officer training, railway cargo, railroads, airports (internal and external), water facilities and electrical grid...(EMP).  We are vulnerable in so many areas I think the security of these facilities need to be beefed up in some way.  This in no way will be comprehensive but sort of a cursory glance.

I have a military background with the US Army, US Air force, 20 years in corrections and law enforcement and currently armed security for a railroad.  The presentations will not be exhaustive but merely simple and straight forward based on my experience.  I certainly will accept any input if the input expands on my knowledge and experience so others may be enlightened.


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Security of shipping containers and Ports

Post by spacemaverick on Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:09 am

Physical Security - Incoming Shipping containers

Shipping containers come in from overseas by cargo ship. The ships enter Ports along our coast line. They are downloaded into holding yards for inspection and pickup by trucking firms. These trucking firms will either move them to their destination or to rail yards. If they are moving to rail yards then they will be moved by truck to the rail yard. The container may placed on a train for movement to another rail yard for truck pick up or container may leave the first rail yard to a customer. This shows you how many places this container encounters during it's travels.

The government has claimed they can only check 4% of these containers. So, do we really know what is in these containers? There might be anything that could harm people in these containers. Rather than go into a long explanation, let me provide links to the information from the government agencies:

http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/ship-cargo-containers-%E2%80%93-finding-out-what%E2%80%99s-them-there%E2%80%99s-trouble

http://www.dhs.gov/cargo-screening

http://www.dhs.gov/secure-freight-initiative

http://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/cargo-security/csi/csi-brief

The information comes from Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection.

Physical security for Ports
I addressed the issue of shipping containers coming into ports in the last section. Now to look into some of the actual physical security of the ports themselves. A large portion of physical security in some places are handled by private contractors or commercial contract companies. (I work for a company of this type). The larger companies will perform or have performed by medical personnel, drug tests. They do perform national agency checks to see if you have a record. Workers also have to obtain a TWIC card...better know as a Transportation Workers Identification Card.

In Florida we have security licenses for armed and unarmed officers. In most cases to obtain these licenses you are only required to obtain one week of training and that's it. You also go through a background check with Florida's Department of Agriculture (licensing authority) for a background check. If you are wanting to be an armed security officer then you have to be trained by a licensed school that will teach you the laws regarding firearms, how to properly handle the firearm and when you can and cannot utilize that firearm against a person. It is a lot of responsibility that comes with that firearm. You don't have to have any experience using firearms in order to receive that armed license. You just have to pass the test given by the school. (The school has to have a license with licensed instructors). For that armed license you must have a doctor sign that medical form to obtain the license. People are the largest and most important part of physical security.

You can attempt to use only technology but technology can be defeated, break down, shut down due to lack of power etc... There are smaller companies that obtain contracts from larger corporations but do not perform very good background checks if any at all and some of these have other issues as well. So unless the company or corporation hiring these companies checks the contracting company for proper licensing then you have another weak link in the system.


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Security Schools and Security Officers

Post by spacemaverick on Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:54 am

Security Schools

The security schools have to be inspected to make sure that they are actually training people and not just signing off on paperwork with no training. This done by Department of Agriculture in Florida by utilizing inspectors. There are lots of schools and sites that require inspection but it boils down to needing more inspectors and that requires more money by the state. Some have been caught just signing off on paperwork and not teaching anything. This is a weak link in the security network as well as security officers monitoring ports that do not have little if any experience. Not enough inspectors to inspect everything is another issue.

Security Officers
I live near a port and can listen to some of the radio chatter between security officers and their communications control. I was listening one night and this officer came upon a vehicle with no one in it and the hood was cold. It had been sitting in this spot for awhile. The officer reported it (they had just changed shifts). The officer was asked if they had received pass on information about the vehicle. The answer was no. What if that car had contained an explosive or some other weapon of mass destruction? Physical security is only as good as the people performing it. As a supervisor at a previous job I always said trust but verify. Check on your people and guide them in the correct way to efficiently perform their tasks. Security is only as good as it's weakest link. Our port also uses security officers as screeners for people boarding cruise ships and various other duties within the port.

The port also has law enforcement from the county handling law enforcement function within the port. Of course the law enforcement officers have much more training than do security officers but the security officer is still the first responder on scene of an incident and not law enforcement. Of course you have Customs and Department of Homeland Security along with Coast Guard at the ports. and this would include divers that can check the bottoms of ships and boats entering and exiting the ports.

In my humble opinion there should be a closer inspection of the contract companies and their personnel to make sure that they are in compliance with all laws and regulations and the security coordinator (if there is one) should be closely observing what is transpiring within his or her realm of responsibility.

Lack of extended training

In the course for armed security officers you are given just the basics. There is no advanced training unless you obtain it yourself. You are shown and must learn when you can use force according to statute but there are no courses in teaching you the mechanics of any type of force. In fact most companies will not even allow you to have less than lethal options because of liability. There are some companies that provide regular training beyond what is required but they are few.

Lack of annual training

The only annual training required by Florida is annual firearms qualification and that is it. It is the licensee holder that must keep up on any changes in the law. Most companies do not provide training unless you are very large company with the funds to provide such training. Begs the question...if I have to use force and I wasn’t trained, can the company be held liable for lack of training? You are not taught any type of Close Quarter Combat skills. In some cases where you are placed on a post may be a very dangerous area. Well, all I can say is if this happens...be vigilant and hope for the best. Or you can pay for the training for yourself so you can survive.


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Railroad, rail and shipping container security

Post by spacemaverick on Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:01 am

Railroad security in the USA

There is currently 140,000 rail miles of track in the USA. There are several large and small rail yards all along these routes in every state in the union. Each railroad has their own police department and most of the time security contractors perform the observation of those rail yards under the supervision of the rail police also known as Asset Protection. The police officers are experienced and have attended police academies. On the other hand, the security officers may have had a 40 hour course if they are armed. Many times that is all the training they have received. There are retired corrections and law enforcement officers that may have crossed over into the security field after retirement.

Often, these security officers perform double duty performing clerical duties for the railroad to which they are contracted. In this case there duties are not 100% security but a mix of admin. and security. Some rail yards have video cameras mounted to maintain surveillance and some do not. For the most part a lot of track cannot be monitored by police or contractors because of the many miles of tracks involved.

Railroads are part of Federal Infrastructure and as such (at least here in Florida) since most yards are equipped with switching circuits to receive cargo onto the yards...Florida statute allows security officers to detain trespassers to find out there intentions. The security people then have to call law enforcement and can only detain until law enforcement arrives on scene. One catch however, If the contract company for security tells you you cannot detain then you must follow their direction. If it is an armed post (for life protection only...you cannot defend property only people) some companies may tell you that you cannot use less than lethal or any type of force except in defense of your life.

Shipping Containers

Remember those shipping containers I was talking about earlier in the article? Some of those may come to a rail yard via truck and placed on the yard to await shipment by rail. Homeland Security had indicated that only 4% of those containers are really checked. So how do we know what is in these containers. Yes, they do have paperwork but each container is not checked physically. Some ports have X-ray scanners and some do not. So this is a possible weak spot.

Railroad tracks

When there is 140,000 rail miles of track to inspect, this is performed by maintenance people for whatever company owns those tracks. They have to be inspected on a regular basis so this is kind of patrol. The maintenance people have radios in those vehicles and can contact dispatch to notify any local police department if they have anything suspicious happening with in their area. This would be an immediate response if needed and the rail police would also be notified to respond to an incident. Rail police are not that plentiful in number so of course it would take longer for their response. The tracks could be vulnerable only if the person inspecting the tracks misses something. Once again, security is only as good as it's weakest link.


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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:36 pm

I am currently working on the next part of this series which will be dealing with airport security.


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Airport Security (Part 1)

Post by spacemaverick on Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:23 pm

Airport Security Overview


Once again I don't know everything about airport security and different airports will have different levels of security.  The airports will certainly not divulge their security secrets as this would not be a prudent move.

We do have a known however regarding the TSA (Transportation Security Administration.  Anyone traveling around the USA has already encountered the security for people boarding aircraft or accessing the areas where people are boarding aircraft.  The TSA success rate of finding devices through testing by their own security teams have found that they do not catch as many fake devices as they should.  From what I understand they actually have teams that try to sneak fake devices through security to test their ability to find them.

What I will be dealing with is 3 subjects where I see problems and those are; Access points from inside the terminals to the outside (used by airport personnel  and ground crews), contractors who provide services on the tarmac (background checks) and perimeter security.

In 2015, TSA used its own security personnel to test its airport checkpoints, where passengers attempted to smuggle prohibited weapons and explosives through security. Of the 70 tests, TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) failed to detect the weapons and explosives 67 times, a 95.7 percent failure rate.Mar 14, 2016

https://travelersunited.org/commentary/do-tsas-impressive-2015-statistics-indicate-success-or-failure/


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Airport Security (Part 2)

Post by spacemaverick on Fri Aug 05, 2016 5:34 pm

Airport Contract Companies

Various tasks regarding aircraft operations are handled by companies contracted by the airports and/or airlines. These companies go through a clearing procedure for the company as a whole.

The main problem is with the employees they may hire. What type of background checks are performed for on these prospective employees. Having been a member of a law enforcement agency the background checks were pretty extensive to include psychological, fingerprint check, NCIC check nationally, local warrants check, state check for criminal history and also a visit by a deputy to friends and neighbors.

I have worked for security companies that have used various methods and of course these methods are not all the same. One company did not run a background check at all. One company used a commercial entity to do their checking on background. Another company was debating what method to use and another one just checked the local Clerk of Court website and no national check. No consistency across the board on checking backgrounds. Some of these jobs I was on dealt with infrastructure and some did not.

Consistency regarding how background checks are performed is the key. Supposedly if you are dealing with the government in some way, they will require a much higher standard of background check. Judging from the ability of refugees to enter this country based on a system to check them out is much less than expected, I have my doubts about the system itself. The guy that shot up the Pulse Nightclub is another example. He worked for a company called G4S which is also a government contractor. Now you see why I do not have confidence in the system.

You can have all the nice electronic means to monitor any part of the infrastructure but a much better course is to have a human being conducting checks in conjunction with technology.

Airport Perimeters

Most larger airports have electronic sensors on their fence lines and patrols in place for large airports. Some of the smaller ones with major airlines do not have the sensors. They usually have a road around the airport on which a patrol may drive around on the road and check the perimeter.

I have seen construction taking place on a few near the fence and yet no one watching the area. Very seldom have I seen any patrol at all. We have security on the inside of airports but at the contract level on the tarmac near the aircraft and the perimeters, they are lacking. My opinion is that it boils down to everyone watching the bottom line like corporations do until something happens. In other words, “crisis management.”


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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Tue Aug 16, 2016 3:30 pm

There is one major issue that can come from the sun itself or from an attack from nation states using a nuclear weapon. The other threats mentioned above are singular in nature unless coordinated by an enemy and can be dealt with and not affect the USA as a whole in a physical way. I am talking about EMP or electromagnetic pulse. This will be my next subject.


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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:33 pm

Well, I am realizing there is much information on Electro Magnetic Pulse and surprisingly enough there is much known about it even by our government. Since I am not a scientist I will have to rely on information from which I hope are experts in the field. I will be putting the EMP threat into another blog by itself. I am fashioning an outline to present this in a logical sequence hopefully. By presenting this information I hope to understand the problem better and bring about information that will help others.


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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Fri Sep 23, 2016 5:14 pm

A classic example of a sensitive infrastructure.  Recently Puerto Rico had a fire at one plant and over 1 million people were without power.  That's one fire only and crippled businesses.  Here is the link as reported by one of our local news stations.

Nearly half of Puerto Rico's population is in the dark after a substation fire apparently led to a collapse of the electric system.

An estimated 1.5 million customers are without power; the entire population of Puerto Rico is 3.5 million people.

http://www.wesh.com/news/fire-prompts-massive-power-outage-in-puerto-rico/41772802?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=FBPAGE&utm_campaign=WESH%202%20News%20-%20wesh2news&Content%20Type=Story




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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Fri Sep 23, 2016 5:19 pm

Here is a new wrinkle regarding designation of critical infrastructure and this is dealing with the United States election system. President Obama is considering this a high priority.

http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-cybersecurity/2016/08/the-meaning-of-deeming-elections-critical-infrastructure-215708

The meaning of deeming elections ‘critical infrastructure’
By TIM STARKS 08/04/16 10:12 AM EDT
With help from Eric Geller and Martin Matishak
PONDERING A NEW DESIGNATION — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that the department was looking at designating elections as critical infrastructure, on par with the electricity grid or banking system. It’s a subject the Obama administration, as a whole, is exploring. “I know this is an idea that other members of the president’s national security team have also discussed,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest added Wednesday.

more at the link.....


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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:09 am

Well, Hurricane Matthew is on it's way to hit my county directly. We shall now find out how fragile our electrical grid really is and how much it can take. I live in Melbourne Florida and the winds are suppose to be up to 140 mph.


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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by Cyrellys on Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:13 am

spacemaverick wrote:Well, Hurricane Matthew is on it's way to hit my county directly.  We shall now find out how fragile our electrical grid really is and how much it can take.  I live in Melbourne Florida and the winds are suppose to be up to 140 mph.


How was the verdict Mav?


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FEMA Orders 200,000 Death Certificates–What For?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfrNGx_nEwA&feature=player_embedded

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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by spacemaverick on Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:38 pm

Cyrellys wrote:
spacemaverick wrote:Well, Hurricane Matthew is on it's way to hit my county directly.  We shall now find out how fragile our electrical grid really is and how much it can take.  I live in Melbourne Florida and the winds are suppose to be up to 140 mph.


How was the verdict Mav?  

Well, we got hit pretty bad but was saved the worst when the eye jogged East 20 miles. The eyewall of the hurricane had winds 145 to 150. We only got hit with 115 to 120. Over 75% of Brevard County was without power. In about 7 days all power was restored to most of businesses and residences. Our county was the bullseye.

Our evacuations of coastal barrier areas had to be evacuated due to storm surge. The storm surge came at high tide which was not good because we had water over the road A1A along the coast. As a precaution, my town shut off water to the coastal barrier area so if any lines broke we would still have water on the mainland. The Coastal evacuation was mandatory. Once the winds on the bridges to barrier areas attained 50 mph, the bridges were shut down.

Our county has a policy that if you do not evacuate during a mandatory evacuation they will not respond to rescue you. They will not put the first responders in jeporady for a rescue when you were told to leave.

Storm debris they said would probably take to the end of the year to clean up. Trees and tree limbs had to first be trimmed back before power workers worked on the lines. Electrical had to be shut down on grids so that workers could repair damage. All in all they did a good job.

At least we faired better than others because our county government had their stuff together. We've had plenty experience at this...lol. All I lost was power for 3 days and a privacy fence.

Some stores shelves suddenly became bare just before storm hit. Some larger stores lost frozen foods because of no large generators to power their stores. Took a couple of days for them to get back up to speed. A certain percentage of gas stations by law must have generators to pump gas available with authorities having th ability to be first in line. Our standard procedure for government (police, fire etc..) usualyy top off before this happens to include their service stations at government centers.

Florida pretty much had it together.

I personally


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Re: Infrastructure Security in America

Post by Cyrellys on Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:16 pm

Excellent. Nice to see a community pulling together. Now we face a bigger challenge pulling together in case of implosion at or after the election...be warned...the calm before the storm. Don't stand down yet.


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FEMA Orders 200,000 Death Certificates–What For?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfrNGx_nEwA&feature=player_embedded

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I am quite aware

Post by spacemaverick on Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:31 am

Cyrellys wrote:Excellent.  Nice to see a community pulling together.  Now we face a bigger challenge pulling together in case of implosion at or after the election...be warned...the calm before the storm.  Don't stand down yet.

I am very aware and not as ready as I would like but ready more than most.


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