Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Major Security Breach

If the security gods were ‘shuddering in dismay’ Saturday they are absolutely outraged today. Nancy Bartels in her blog at ControlGlobal.com points us at a story out of Great Britain where an eco-terrorist climbed over the security perimeter at a major British power plant, walked through an unlocked door, shut down a 500 MW power generation turbine, and then walked out of the plant. Oh, yes, he also left a hand made banner that read “No New Coal”. When did this happen? According to the Guardian Newspaper article it happened on November 28th. Police are still investigating, but they have no clue who the individual was. Inadequate Security Security must have been poor, right? Well, the Guardian describes this as the “most heavily guarded power station in Britain”. And rightfully so, it has been the target of a number of ecological protests (see: Evolving Eco-Terrorist Groups) centered on the facility’s massive use of coal. The British have spent £12M on security. The perimeter consists of two 10 foot electrified fences topped with razor wire. The area is covered by video cameras that caught the whole incident on tape. Sounds like impressive security, what went wrong? Well, there were some serious gaps in the security plan. Let’s work backwards from the point where he shut down the turbine:
He was able to physically access a computer control system in the facility; a computer that was apparently neither password-protected nor physically secured. He gained access to the operations floor of the facility through an unlocked door. He walked across the open ground around the facility even though he was captured on the video system (both coming and going) without catching the attention of security. He scaled two electrified security fences without setting off an alarm. He was able to reconnoiter the site without detection.
It sounds like the facility felt secure behind its high-tech fences. It also appears to be a very expensive lack of security. Nancy Bartels has some extremely interesting question in her blog:
“Who was watching those screens? If the answer is "nobody," then why bother to install them in the first place? If the answer is "somebody," shouldn't he or she have done something besides just watch?”
And, of course, she ends her blog with the best question of all, “As for all you folks in charge of your process operation's security, how well are you sleeping tonight?”

1 comment:

ThomKay said...

You again misuse "eco-terrorist." Please refer to it when it is deserved, and not when someone walks through an unlocked door, shuts down a plant, and walks away without using violence. Activists are not terrorists. Loosely using this term is unfair to non-violent activists who participate in civil disobedience in order to effect change.
This was an amazing action against the use of coal, and further demonstrates that guards, gates, and gadgets do not result in enough security to prevent real terrorists from releasing chemicals into communities.

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