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Startup Promises Critical-Site Analysis

New consulting firm will help 'national security-critical' sites evaluate physical and logical security

If any of the sites in your enterprise might look like good targets for terrorists or potential U.S. enemies, this one's for you.

A startup company called Infrastruct Security received $4 million in Series A funding last month to offer assessments of sites that are considered to be part of the nation's "critical infrastructure" in the event of a war or terrorist attack. A few industries have already begun mandating such assessments, and others are planning to follow suit.

In a nutshell, Infrastruct Security will conduct Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVAs), which follow a systematic methodology for identifying threats and vulnerabilities at a particular location. SVAs, which are recommended by the Department of Homeland Security, evaluate a site's ability to withstand physical attacks by outsiders, and suggest countermeasures to help mitigate them.

According to the federal government, "critical infrastructure sites" include banking sites, oil/gas facilities, medical buildings, power utilities, water utilities, and municipal services such as fire and police departments. New government regulations also include sites that might be involved in making weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and nuclear materials.

"More than 90 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is run by private companies, not government," says Weiss.

If your business involves any of these activities or locations, you may soon be required to perform an SVA of the sites involved, notes Daniel Weiss, founder, CEO, and president of Infrastruct Security. "The Coast Guard already requires it for locations that involve water transportation, and there are initiatives that may require it in the chemical and petroleum industries in the near future."

In an SVA, a security expert surveys the site for vulnerabilities and physical security systems, such as alarm systems, fire systems, and video surveillance at critical sites such as data centers, transaction processing facilities, or hazardous materials storage areas. The experts check everything from the height of the fences to the computer systems used to monitor them, Weiss says. An SVA can cost as much as $50,000 per site, and that doesn't count the cost of fixing the vulnerabilities it exposes.

Infrastruct Security will also monitor sites to ensure that they don't introduce new vulnerabilities, Weiss says.

There are only a few companies around the country with SVA-rated experts on staff, and most of them operate as independent consultants or contractors, says Rick Fisher, chief security officer at Infrastruct Security. "We're definitely not the only ones doing this, but we might be the first to really build our business around it."

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

  • Infrastruct Security Inc.

    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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