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Securing Utility and Energy Infrastructures

* ****Securing Utility and Energy Infrastructures. By Larry Ness; published by Wiley Interscience, (Web); 340 pages; $79.95.

In today’s world, what security and business professional wouldn’t want to know about securing infrastructures? There is a vast audience for good information on this topic, but regrettably this book provides precious little of that information.

It may be that the author knows his field well and is an effective consultant in securing infrastructures but went to press too quickly with this work. Like a school project done the night before it’s due, the book appears to be hastily written, and a lot of the discussion is superficial. Some of the material seems to convey misunderstandings.

The statement that “terrorists could shoot…the dirty bomb high in the earth’s atmosphere” to cause an electromagnetic pulse event is clearly in error. A dirty bomb (radioactive material wrapped around a chemical explosive) just does not work that way.

Other material isn’t original work. Almost half the pages are lifted from government publications that are available on the Web.

Threats are mentioned without useful response information. For example, no response guidelines are presented in the crisis management section. Readers could reasonably expect details on advance preparation, such as assembling a multifaceted response team and putting together “jump bags” filled with critical tools like laptops, credit cards, and off-site facility agreements. No such luck.

Photos and illustrations don’t add much either. One illustration depicts a “wooden pole with transformers,” but the pole pictured happens to lack transformers. A photo of a substation doesn’t add anything to the text.

Security professionals have heard again and again about the vulnerability to attacks by and against technology. Yet the author devotes only a few pages to computer networks. In all, security practitioners have better resources elsewhere.

Reviewer: Gordon Mitchell is a member of the Puget Sound chapter of ASIS International. He runs Future Focus, a company that provides computer forensic services.