BOX 3.4
Examples of Technical Physical Security Skills and Practices Being Developed and Implemented by Electric Power Industry Security Personnel

•   Protecting system technical operations

•   Gaining familiarity with the latest risk and vulnerability analysis systems

•   Ensuring the physical security of equipment and systems

•   Providing perimeter protection including fences, lights, gates and access controls, entrance and equipments locks, protection force fencing, electronic security systems, video surveillance systems, and building alarm systems

•   Physically protecting telecommunications systems

•   Streamlining security command-and-control systems

•   Working with the National Incident Management System

•   Conducting contingency planning

•   Accessing intelligence sources and sharing local information

•   Forming liaisons with local law enforcement organizations

•   Initiating tactical planning of response operations

•   Planning for exercise/implementation of defensive operations during heightened alert periods


•   While the electric power transmission and distribution systems are resilient and are designed for rapid restoration after failure caused by natural and accidental events, they are vulnerable to intelligent multi-site attacks by knowledgeable attackers intent on causing maximum physical damage to key components on a wide geographical scale. A few natural events, such as large hurricanes and ice storms, pose similar challenges, although in those cases some of the system components, such as high-voltage transformers (that are most difficult to replace or restore), are less likely to be damaged.

•  Electric power transmission and distribution systems are vulnerable to attack generally with little risk to the attacker. As most systems are currently configured and operated, attackers can conduct their operations without detection. Because the transmission and distribution systems are by their nature inherently distributed, it is very difficult to completely protect all key components, or to harden them against possible attack.

•  However, there are steps that could be taken to reduce the vulnerability of critical components. These include:

  —A variety of design and engineering steps to harden substation sites and make key components less vulnerable to physical attack. These include further hardening of control facilities; selective use of walls and roofs at substations (especially in built-up areas and at high-consequence facilities in remote areas); and hardened enclosures for key transformers.

  —Improved integrated electronic surveillance that uses sensor and monitoring equipment, along with information-processing equipment, to allow rapid identification of and response to multi-site attacks.

  —System tools that can identify and localize physical and control system problems and potential incidents. These are further discussed in Chapter 6.

  —Greater use of robust self-supporting towers for both transmission lines and communication systems. This includes more frequent use of dead-end towers in transmission lines that use guide towers, as well as integrated communication and power towers and self-supporting microwave towers.

•  Substations are the most critical choke points, followed by control centers. For these facilities there is a need to develop specific physical security equipment such as cameras, sensors, intrusion devices, access controls, improved lighting and perimeter security fencing, buffer zone security, and surveillance of approaches, as well as a greater human presence and upgrades in protection force training and response, all of which would be used to decrease vulnerability.

•  Improved personnel-related security measures are needed, including better screening of employees, better access control, more realistic simulations and security training, programs to reduce the threat to key workers from biological and other attacks with weapons of mass destruction, and upgraded capability to deal with the insider threats. Details on these and other personnel issues are provided in Chapter 5.


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 2006. “The Jericho Option: Al-Qa’ida and Attacks on Critical Infrastructure.” UCRL-SR-224072, June.

Scheuer, Michael. 2004. Imperial Hubris. London: Brassey’s.

U.S. Department of State. 2006. “Country Reports on Terrorism 2005.” Washington, April.

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