Opinion: Protecting key critical infrastructures

Opinion: Protecting key critical infrastructures

Opinion: Protecting key critical infrastructures

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By Kelly Onaghise

Security is a global issue, so its importance cannot be over emphasised. No wonder the book of life stated that except the Lord watch over city, the watchman but in vain Ps. 127 vs 1. So it is not coincidental when God who is our chief security officer also take delight in our security arrangement to be put in place and order.

The recent attack that took place at French office of satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo; the recent breach by Omar Gonzalez, 42, who scaled a fence where he ran across the lawn and entered an unlocked door and was tackled inside the White House; recent attack on a shopping mall at Abuja and recent stowaway incidents at Benin and Lagos airports, just to mention but a few. They tell it all about security lapses which underscored the risks associated with physical security breaches and the potentially disastrous consequences in critical infrastructures such hotels, banks, shopping malls, airports, seaports, refinery and petrochemical factories courthouses, stadium, schools, prisons, embassies, conference centres, factories etc.
While the threat of terrorist or insurgence activity to disrupt critical infrastructure remains ever-present, other hazards such as theft and vandalism are more common and represent an additional challenge.

Accurate detection and timely information about the unfolding event suggests implementing a “systems approach” comprising six specific concepts, which are summarised as Detect, Deter, Delay, Assess, Communicate, and Respond, also suggests a “Defense in Depth” approach that attempts to “prevent the advance of an attacker” using zones of protection over a larger area, which creates an opportunity to respond to an event over time, rather than setting up a “single, strong defensive line.

This message is intended for critical infrastructure owners and security professionals who manage and implement security solutions; addresses these difficulties and offers commonsense advice to protect their infrastructures effectively and affordably while meeting several key requirements of the acceptable standard.

So the need for reliable intrusion detection systems to protect these assets has never been higher. So these critical infrastructure will need to perform a security analysis to evaluate potential threats and vulnerabilities of physical attacks on these targets, verify this risk assessment with an unaffiliated third party, and then deploy and implement physical security plans to cover these assets.

These requirements from the risk assessment can be implemented in phases, giving clients time to prepare for and implement physical security upgrades while the team does not prescribe specific solutions that the infrastructure should deploy. Instead, it provides suggested guidance and practices that can help mitigate risks. The concepts as outlined in their recommendation should represent a sound and effective security practice that suits all facilities tasked with protecting key critical assets.

Technology Times photo file shows attendees at a telecoms event in Lagos. Author opines that security lapses often underscored risks associated with physical security breaches and the potentially disastrous consequences in critical infrastructures such hotels, banks, conference centres, among others.
Technology Times photo file shows attendees at a telecoms event in Lagos. Author opines that security lapses often underscored risks associated with physical security breaches and the potentially disastrous consequences in critical infrastructures such hotels, banks, conference centres, among others.

While different infrastructure require different approach, for example safeguarding any outdoor assets, whether airport perimeters, oil refineries, chemical plants or electrical generating station, e.t.c. often comes down to the same thing. Accurate detection and timely information about the unfolding event suggests implementing a “systems approach” comprising six specific concepts, which are summarised as Detect, Deter, Delay, Assess, Communicate, and Respond, also suggests a “Defense in Depth” approach that attempts to “prevent the advance of an attacker” using zones of protection over a larger area, which creates an opportunity to respond to an event over time, rather than setting up a “single, strong defensive line.

These layers of protection can start with the perimeter fence, surveillance cameras with infrared ray illuminator for night capabilities, effective Under Vehicle Scanning System integretable with Road Blocker or Bollard System at each entrance and exit route with tire killers, Luggage and Body scanners at each entrance of the building.

But in our country today, you may see conventional and HD cameras in some key assets which is not the best recommended systems for these infrastructure has prompted me to look into brief details about camera surveillance system for securing our critical assets. While video surveillance cameras based on visible light have long been established as an effective forensic tool for analyzing what happened after an event, there are limitations to what video surveillance can do.

Historically, it has only provided passive recording of events for future use. Critical asset protection demands that intruders are detected as soon as they enter a secured area. Such real-time awareness is critical to ensuring a timely response and preventing an incident from escalating.

As a result, thermal technology has become a top choice for detecting intrusions outdoors. These systems, which combine thermal sensors with video analytics, are known as smart thermal cameras because they never tire, can cover large areas, and see what the human eye would miss and also create buffer zones, when provided with accurate alerts that thermal cameras generate that can make appropriate response decisions accordingly.

Using smart thermal cameras for perimeter security applications was once seen as a more costly solution better suited for government or military applications. Recent developments in thermal camera technology provide a new level of detection accuracy while making them available at commercial prices.

Smart thermal cameras have benefited from the same processing advancements that make all modern computing devices so powerful, and use this processing to amplify small differences between the temperature of a person and the background, accurately detecting intruders even in less than ideal conditions.

They ignore headlights, reflections off water, or other lighting issues that cause false detections with conventional and HD cameras. The combination of higher performance and lower costs is rapidly expanding the use of thermal cameras for 24/7 security applications. Even there are new trends of TVI, CVI, AHD cameras also have their advantages and disadvantages in surveillance technology.

In conclusion the goal for protecting critical substation assets is to employ technology that can provide situational awareness of activity about potential threat so that the facilities can initiate an appropriate and timely response to prevent wanton destruction of lives and properties while we look into other systems next time.

*Kelly Onaghise, Security Systems & ELV Specialist, writes from Megatronix Technology Ltd, and can be reached via email: info@megatronixtech.com and Twitter: @megatronix_tech

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