Summary: In a 50-page policy paper by the Brookings Institute and authored by Commander Joseph Kramek of the U.S.Coast Guard and a Federal Executive Fellow at the institute, the current state of affairs related to vulnerabilities at our national seaports is discussed and options to shore up cyber security are presented. In the executive summary, Commander Kramek writes that today’s U.S. port facilities rely as much upon networked computer and control systems as they do upon stevedores to ensure the flow of maritime commerce that the economy, homeland, and national security depend upon. Yet, unlike other sectors of critical infrastructure, little attention has been paid to the networked systems that undergird port operations. Report is available at: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2013/07/02%20cyber%20port%20security%20kramek/03%20cyber%20port%20security%20kramek.pdf
Full review: No cybersecurity standards have been promulgated for U.S. ports, nor has the U.S. Coast Guard, the lead federal agency for maritime security, been granted cybersecurity authorities to regulate ports or other areas of maritime critical infrastructure. In the midst of this lacuna of authority is a sobering fact: according to the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) the next terrorist attack on U.S. Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) is just as likely to be a cyber attack as a kinetic attack.
The potential consequences of even a minimal disruption of the flow of goods in U.S. ports would be high. The zero-inventory, just-in-time delivery system that sustains the flow of U.S. commerce would grind to a halt in a matter of days; shelves at grocery stores and gas tanks at service stations would run empty. In certain ports, a cyber disruption affecting energy supplies would likely send not just a ripple but a shockwave through the U.S. and even global economy.
Given the absence of standards and authorities, this paper explores the current state of cybersecurity awareness and culture in selected U.S. port facilities. The use of the post-9/11 Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is also examined to see whether these monies are being used to fund cybersecurity projects.
Full citation: The Critical Infrastructure Gap: U.S. Port Facilities and Cyber Vulnerabilities, Policy Paper, July 2013, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence.
Keywords: Maritime Security, Cyber-security, Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), Port facility, Coast Guard, Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA).