In the byzantine Department of Homeland Security’s organization chart, issues like cyber attacks on the power grid fit under critical infrastructure protection. It’s mostly about the department’s humdrum work of encouraging private industry to protect itself. It’s a job the government never thought of before 9/11, but it’s obviously important given that most of what makes life tolerable, or could make life miserable, is privately owned.
In a world in which corporate quarterly-earnings statements are not helped by investments in “what-if” security (and in which insurance covers the more foreseeable losses), the work involves persuasion more than anything else. The person at DHS in charge of this mass jaw-boning effort is Caitlin Durkovich, a former Washington consultant, who says she has “the greatest job in the world, because I work with every sector of the economy on something that’s really important.” Durkovich runs a group of 600 federal employees and 400 contractors, most of whom provide security surveys and advice to proprietors of everything from major-league ballparks (only one team has not engaged in developing a plan, she told me) to water plants to banks.
A detailed software questionnaire and matrix that I watched being used for a security review at one New York financial exchange ran the gamut of issues. Had the employees been trained in active-shooter exercises? What was the durability rating of the barriers blocking potential truck bombs? Are employee background checks updated frequently enough? Are working relationships and liaisons in place with New York City’s anti-terror unit and the Joint Terrorism Task Force?