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Making security a priority

By Chemical Engineering |

It seems that more and more, security concerns — both physical and cyber — have become part of our daily lives both off and on the job. The all-too-frequent news stories on the topic as well as repetitive prompts, such as the “if you see something, say something” slogan, remind us to keep up our vigilance. This past year, security has been the subject of more than one Executive order that has resulted in stepped-up activity across numerous U.S. Government agencies.
In February, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, Md., www.nist.gov) unveiled its Cybersecurity Framework, which was developed in response to Executive Order 13636, titled “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” that was signed by President Obama one year earlier. The Framework was developed through a collaborative effort between industry and the government, and it gives guidance to owners and operators of critical infrastructure — of which the chemical process industries (CPI) are part — on how to manage cybersecurity-related risks. A description of the Framework and other cybersecurity-related resources relevant to the CPI can be found in our June issue (ICS Security: The Owner-Operator’s Challenge, Chem. Eng., pp. 30–35).

Executive Order 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” was signed by the President in August 2013. The response to this order was the subject of much discussion at the recent Chemical Sector Security Summit (July 22–24, Baltimore, Md.; www.dhs.gov/2014-chemical-security-summit), now in its eighth year. An interagency working group released a report to the President titled “Actions to Improve Chemical Safety and Security — A Shared Commitment,” in June. This report outlines action plans in response to the Executive order in five areas: Strengthening community planning and preparedness; enhancing Federal operational coordination; improving data management; modernizing policies and regulations; and incorporating stakeholder feedback and developing best practices. Presenters at the Security Summit commented that one of the more important outcomes of the Executive order is that a number of government agencies are now cooperating and communicating much more effectively about security in the CPI.

And it seems that CFATS (Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards) may finally have the strong support in Congress that could lead to longterm authorization, instead of the annual process that the program has undergone for the past seven years since its inception. In his presentation at the Security Summit, David Wulf, director of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD), Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) called 2014 a transformative year for CFATS as he outlined the progress made in the program, including the approval of nearly 1,000 site security plans (for background, see CFATS and Chemical Plant Security, Chem. Eng., Sept. 2009, pp. 21–23).

Worldwide interest in CPI security is also growing. It was suggested during international sessions at the Security Summit that U.S. approaches to security, such as (1) the combination of safety and security, and (2) public and private partnerships, could offer guidance to a broader international community.

Much groundwork has been laid and the key now is to make it a priority to incorporate security into our routine endeavors.

Dorothy Lozowski, Editor in Chief

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