With the two domestic terror attacks on substations in Washington state and North Carolina in December still fresh in the public’s mind, it is more important than ever to ensure that the American electrical grid is safe from other bad actors. There is a myriad of threats that substations face, especially following these attacks. When electrical substations are inoperable, life is put on pause for thousands of Americans, and some lives are even put at risk. Understanding how best to protect these substations is crucial to ensuring their continual operation. Here are 5 tips to protect your substation.
Protect the Perimeter
The perimeter of any property is the first line of defense to focus on when securing an area. In blocking access to the property, the risks of bad actors infiltrating the area diminish. Security fences and gates can ensure that only those who have been granted access to the site can enter. While both of the substations in North Carolina and Washington had fences surrounding the complexes, damaged areas granted the perpetrators access to the site.
It is crucial to maintain fences and access gates to mitigate any risk of bad actors. Making sure that there are no gaps or holes in the fencing is a good way to prevent any attacks from happening. It is also crucial to ensure that access gates are locked whenever the site is vacant. Only those with explicitly granted access should be in the facilities, so gates must be working and locking properly. Adding anti-climb measures is also a good way to make sure that no one enters the site that is not meant to be there. If a bad actor is dedicated enough to the crime, they may climb the fences around an area. Implementing anti-climb measures, such as barbed wire along the tops of the fence, makes it certain that no one can access the substation without proper clearance.
Artificial intelligence has come a long way since its inception. While it is by no means perfect, AI technology paired with a human component is a strong security measure. With AI constantly checking the area, there are “eyes” on the property 24/7. However, because AI is not perfect, a human component is necessary to validate any risks detected. While AI technology can detect motion on the site, it is not sustainable for an alert to go off every time there is motion. Should it be an animal on the site, or a tarp flapping in the wind, the AI will detect that motion but should not mark that as a potential security threat. With a human aspect behind the AI, risks can be validated and the proper authorities can be contacted should there be a true security threat.
Appropriate Signage and Lighting
While protecting the physical site and its security is important, ensuring the protection of the workers at the site is just as important. Having appropriate signs warning individuals of the high voltage danger at the site is necessary, not just for the workers but for those who pass by the site. Signs indicating the area is under 24-hour surveillance are also helpful in mitigating any risks from bad actors. Appropriate signage is a good way to ensure that people see the potential danger and the potential that they are being recorded. Lighting is also crucial. The brighter a site is, the more visible anyone on that site is going to be. The more visible a bad actor is, the less likely that they will continue their bad acting.
Use remote surveillance technologies
Using remote surveillance technology is a good way to ensure that bad actors stay away from your critical infrastructure. With overt camera systems in place, bad actors will see that their actions are being recorded and this may deter them from acting further. These can also replace the need for constant security monitoring since cameras, especially remote cameras, can operate 24/7.
Ensure that all communication systems are up-to-date
In 2013, attackers in California disabled the communication lines in the substation simply by cutting a cable. Ensuring that all cables are secured and connected is crucial to ensure there is no downtime in the substation. Making sure that all communications are up-to-date and connected can prevent any potential disruptions.
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Brent CanfieldCEO and Creator of SentryPODS
Brent Canfield, CEO, and founder of Smart Digital and SentryPODS, founded Smart Digital in 2007 after completing a nine-year active-duty career with the United States Marine Corps. During the 2016 election cycle, he provided executive protection for Dr. Ben Carson. He has also authored articles for Security Info Watch.