The U.S. infrastructure is comprised of critical services people rely on including roads, sewage, power distribution and communication systems. It is a complex system that may be overlooked and taken for granted. However, imagining life without proper maintenance and protection of these services is nearly unfathomable. In fact, if any of these were to falter, the nation would suffer at the private, local, and state levels. To combat threats, security and emergency management professionals from numerous fields continually work to update and enhance infrastructure protection and emergency preparedness.
Threats to the infrastructure can be natural, man-made or accidental. Each type of threat offers a unique set of challenges that must be accounted for to maintain infrastructure resilience.
As the name implies, natural threats are dangers posed by the environment. These commonly include events like hurricanes, earthquakes and other extreme weather conditions. Accidental threats are comprised of issues that arise without intent like transportation or hazardous material accidents. The last type, man-made threats, are also known as terrorism. These are threats organized by people and include atrocities like bombings, riots or cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks can be especially dangerous to the nation’s infrastructure due to its virtual vulnerabilities.
Much of the nation’s infrastructure is now linked via cyberspace, improving its general utilization. Although the interconnectivity has been mostly positive, it also makes the infrastructure more vulnerable to breach or compromise. A healthy infrastructure is vital to a citizen’s safety and comfort, so protecting it virtually has become an added defensive measure.
Limited access to utility and government buildings, antivirus software and emergency preparedness plans are a few of the many security measures used to protect the infrastructure. However, they must be adapted as threats continuously change to have the upper hand.
To accomplish this never-ending task, professionals attend annual conferences to learn, connect and improve infrastructure protection. Below are a few examples of infrastructure security conferences being held in 2017 and what infrastructure aspects they cover.
The ACM workshop is a conference focused on the intricacies of cybersecurity. The critical infrastructure network is complex and can be challenging to understand. Unfortunately, there are not enough professionals or educated officials to protect and maintain its security and stability over a prolonged period of time.
The goal of this conference is to bring those responsible and knowledgeable about the together to educate and network with others. Professionals interested in sharing and learning about infrastructure network security would benefit from the ACM workshop. Through collaboration and information dissemination, vulnerabilities and threats can be minimized. The ACM International Workshop has also asked for paper submissions related to network security from engineers, economists and IT professionals. This allows great information to be shared by those who are unable to attend.
Geared toward a wide range health care, emergency services, education, business and government experts, this conference focuses on emergency preparedness. Part of protecting the infrastructure is being prepared for sudden unpreventable threats. In its 13th year, this conference has become known for providing networking and educational opportunities to attendants.
The conference goals for 2017 include helping these professionals learn new practices, analyze previous threats and responses and create stronger, helpful relationships. Activities and participation involve sharing practices, tools, and resource utilization strategies. All in all, its purpose is to bring emergency management professionals together to improve all aspects of the nation’s emergency preparedness.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) holds its conference to address the nation’s water infrastructure. The sewage and water treatment process is complex and difficult to change, so the AWWA utilizes the conference to conduct workshops, tours and to create learning experiences that can help professionals find the best solutions.
Water challenges discussed at the conference include planning, reinvestment and protection. For further learning opportunities, the conference offersr pre-conference workshops at an additional price. Workshops like “Hands-on Development of Asset Management Plans” or “Steel Water Storage Tank Workshop” help specialists develop more in-depth knowledge that may help solve pressing problems.
As the threat of cyberattacks on the nation’s infrastructure become more prominent due to its modern interconnectivity, conferences such as this one focus on increasing cybersecurity. This conference is attended by energy professionals, government officials and prominent cybersecurity leaders keen on learning and developing better network protection with one another.
This cybersecurity conference is centered on the correlation between the physical operation and IT aspects of infrastructure. Gas, water and electric are being linked virtually, resulting in more potential breach points that can be accessed remotely. Presentations and key speakers provide new input, research and strategies that can ensure stability and protection.
Preparing for emergencies and disasters has surpassed the tangible aspects of life. Along with evacuation plans, responsibility designation and emergency communication platforms, emergency management professionals must prepare for cyberattacks. The nation’s infrastructure is comprised of components required for a safe and productive lifestyle and its recent interconnectivity creates new vulnerabilities that may be exploited. Emergency management professionals can take advantage of new job opportunities in infrastructure cybersecurity.
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