Morning Security Brief: Terrorism and Human Behavior, Infrastructure Protection, and DHS Woes

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

►What is the human response to the overhanging threat of terrorism? According to a new report by a Michigan State University professor, the human response is to head to retail venues and shop. Forbes Magazine explains that, "more specifically, those materialistic individuals who place a high value on consumption, when faced with terrorism, are more likely to cope by compulsively purchasing goods." Professor Ayalla Ruvio, the report's author, studied the behavior of people living in the Israeli town of Sderot, which has come under attack by Palestinian rockets for some years. These people not only suffered from post-traumatic stress, but also went on shopping sprees as a way to cope with continuing mortal danger. Ruvio told Forbes that he expects this same behavior to occur in other situations where the threats include natural disasters, job lay-offs, and other ongoing stressful situations.

►Federal News Radio reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon release an updated version of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). According to the station's Web site, this "comes on the heels of the National Institute of Standards and Technology release of the draft cybersecurity framework for critical infrastructure providers. The national plan, which would update a 2009 version, hopes to create an integrated approach to protecting water, electrical, telecommunications, financial, and other critical infrastructure systems. President Barack Obama called for DHS to lead the NIPP update effort in his February 2013 Presidential Policy Directive-21, which coincided with the release of his executive order calling for NIST to head the effort to develop a cyber framework." However, there is some bad feeling between DHS and infrastructure providers, who say that their input is lacking. Despite holding up to 30 meetings with private sector representatives, sources relate, almost none of their suggestions have been incorporated into the document.

►DHS has "lingering technical, funding, and staffing woes, according to the agency's inspector general," writes PoliticoPro of a report released this week. "As hackers increasingly take aim at U.S. banks and other top targets, DHS still lacks some tools to track the attacks, desperately needs additional analysts to interpret and share its information in real time and lags in its efforts to train its existing cybersecurity work force," Politico summarizes. The audit for the report was undertaken during the first five months of this year, a time when the department has lacked leadership because President Obama's nominee is not yet confirmed.


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