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Critical Infrastructure News

In the last few years, drones have flown over, and in some cases landed within, restricted areas across our country—with notable incidents in our nation’s capital. In 2015, a quadcopter crashed on the grounds of the White House. Later that same year, a drone crash-landed on the White House Ellipse, near the South Lawn. Though benign hobbyists often use them, these small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) can be exploited for any number of illegal activities, thereby posing a significant threat to facilities related to critical infrastructure and national security. This is why Counter-UAS (C-UAS) technology is so important.

The popularity of sUAS, or drones, has grown as the cost has become more affordable. Their nefarious capabilities continue to increase, as well. They can attain high speeds and move in three dimensions with the potential to carry dangerous payloads, smuggle contraband, and conduct illicit surveillance. The applications are endless, which creates a formidable challenge for our national security agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

Adaptation is key to ensuring resilience. S&T is supporting C-UAS research, testing, training and evaluation across multiple DHS missions and components. A number of tests have been executed over the last year and more are planned in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Federal Protective Services (FPS), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Read more: Department of Homeland Security

In response to the ongoing cybersecurity threat to pipeline systems, DHS’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced the issuance of a second Security Directive that requires owners and operators of TSA-designated critical pipelines that transport hazardous liquids and natural gas to implement a number of urgently needed protections against cyber intrusions. 

“The lives and livelihoods of the American people depend on our collective ability to protect our Nation’s critical infrastructure from evolving threats,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.  “Through this Security Directive, DHS can better ensure the pipeline sector takes the steps necessary to safeguard their operations from rising cyber threats, and better protect our national and economic security. Public-private partnerships are critical to the security of every community across our country and DHS will continue working closely with our private sector partners to support their operations and increase their cybersecurity resilience.”

Read more: HS Today