Date Added: Dec 2009
In the aftermath of 9/11and other international terrorist attacks on critical buildings, the focus has been shifted on the security of utility infrastructure. At the U.S. federal level, protection of critical infrastructures by conducting vulnerability assessments is the main goal of the departments like National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Energy. At the industry level, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) works closely with FERC and government entities in Canada to ensure the reliability of the bulk power grid in North America. As a part of the efforts related to cyber security and critical infrastructure protection organizations like NERC make use of techniques like monitoring and enforcing mandatory standards compliance among utility operators, streamlining the standards setting and review processes, long-term reliability assessments, and technical initiatives focused on improving system protection relay systems to slow or limit the spread of power outages. This paper discusses how these methods help in the offering better infrastructure protection and focuses on ways to strengthen security and reliability. Although the scope of these initiatives is far beyond telecom-related issues, they serve as a reminder of the intense scrutiny being applied to any area of utility operations, including telecom, which may harbor a weak link between the two in terms of reliability and security. Reliability and security are not identical concepts, of course, but they are related: steps are often taken to improve one or the other.