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FBI Director sets out critical infrastructure challenges

In a speech at the WMD Directorate/Interpol International Law Enforcement Critical Infrastructure Symposium, FBI Director James B. Comey has given his views on the critical infrastructure challenges facing the US.

Key points from the speech include:

- “Critical infrastructure is all encompassing. It is everything to our country and our world—our dams, our bridges, our highways, our networks. These are the things that keep our water flowing, keep our houses lit, keep our cars fueled, our goods manufactured, and connect us all over the world. The threats we face and that we’re here to discuss to those interconnected systems—bioterrorism, agroterrorism, and sabotage, are as diverse as the infrastructure itself.”

- “We know those threats are real. We know that what they’re aimed at is vital to our existence. So we must together figure out ways to protect our infrastructure. We must work together to strengthen our response to a terrorist attack, a tragic accident, or a natural disaster.”

- “There is no room for failure. Many of the challenges we face are extremely remote possibilities. But if they came to bear, they have consequences that are very, very difficult to get your head around.”

- “Let me start by talking about terrorism...just as core al Qaeda has diminished, we have seen the flourishing of what I call the progeny of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Nusra Front in Syria, ISIL in Iraq and Syria now. The progeny of al Qaeda have found the space and time to flourish throughout the Gulf and throughout North Africa. I wake up every morning worrying about the progeny of al Qaeda flourishing in the ungoverned or lightly governed spaces in that area. And I’m especially concerned about Syria. Syria serves as a breeding ground, a training ground, and a networking ground for thousands of jihadis all over the world. They have gone there in huge numbers to join the fight with groups like al Nusra or ISIL. The going is very worrisome. It is the coming out that worries me even more.

- “We [also] face homegrown violent extremists, homegrown terrorists. Some people call them lone wolves, a term that I don’t like, because it conveys a sense of dignity that these people don’t deserve. These homegrown violent extremists are people who are not directed by al Qaeda, but are inspired and trained through the poisonous information available on the Internet. They are al Qaeda-sponsored, sponsored by ISIL, sponsored by AQAP, and in their basements convince themselves they need to engage in violent acts in pursuance of some jihad of their own and emerge from their basements to kill innocent civilians here in the United States. This is a tremendous challenge for all of us in this business because the time between emerging from the basement and a violent act can be very, very short.

- “Let me say a word about cyber — a threat that everyone in this room knows. It touches all the responsibilities of what we worry about … The so-called Internet of Things is just another leap toward connecting all of our lives to the Internet. And because that’s where our national lives are, our infrastructure is, and our personal lives are, those who would do us harm across those dimensions, that’s where they come. I have tried to explain to people that this is a magnitude greater vector change than we’ve ever seen before, a magnitude greater vector change than the vector change of the 20th century that actually gave birth to the modern FBI.

- “We face a lot of threats. One I have not mentioned yet is the threat of a nuclear or radiological incident, which is the proverbial, narrow, deep, deep hole almost without a bottom. We are training with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on how best to prepare in the case of a nuclear or radiological incident at one of our nuclear power facilities. We are working with the US Department of Agriculture on training law enforcement on how to respond to potential attacks on our food supply. We are working with the Food and Drug Administration, USDA, and food companies to assess vulnerabilities in our supply chain and how we might counter potential sabotage. We are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if we can’t get better at joint training with local law enforcement and public health agencies to respond to possible bioterrorism and to recognize the early signs of radiation or chemical sabotage. And we’re training with our great partners at DHS, the US Coast Guard, and the Department of Defense to test law enforcement response and communication in the event of an attack on our maritime or transportation infrastructure.”

Read the full speech.

•Date: 15th July 2014 • US •Type: Article • Topic: Critical infrastructure protection

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