We can’t predict the future, but we know there will always be natural, manmade, mechanical and cyber events. Therefore, preparedness to act is not an option should a disaster occur. The National Preparedness Goal (NPG) is short, sweet and to the point:
“A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”
The NPG is a blueprint on how the nation effectively responds to disaster at any given moment. If we take preemptive measures and appropriately approach to tragedies as a community, we minimize the consequences and damage stemming from any type of disaster. This might include health pandemics, natural disasters, physical and cyber terrorist attacks, and human-induced hazards. However, in disasters is this approach effective?
Risk is defined as vulnerability and threat and consequences multiplied equals the risk. Risk should be identified and managed in a coordinated and comprehensive way across the critical infrastructure community to enable the effective allocation of security and resilience resources. If we approach this any other way, we will go broke. Identifying risk can be done through practicing pre-incident activities which include, but are not limited to information sharing, emergency planning and training, and threat and hazard information.
The NPG is supports risk management and assists to minimize the consequences should a disaster befall us. It is clear that communications, partnership and coordination will support a united approach to disaster management. Understanding what is coming, our weak points and the potential consequences allows the opportunity to meet the NPG.
Information sharing among intel agencies, first responders, and the community is extremely important because preparedness is a shared responsibility. No amount of technology will be able to prevent certain attacks or disasters, but a pair of eyes can identify risk and pass along the information to law enforcement. A piece of information may be nothing until combined with other key details provided by community members.
The community is a combined force made up of the media, citizens, faith-based groups, schools, and businesses. Information sharing among this group of people can save a kitten stuck in a tree or prevent a mass shooting. No details are considered unimportant. And if you see something, say something; a big mouth saves lives.
Prevention starts with prep work. The NPG highlights prevention as the first step in mitigating any threats, small or large, because it equates to the foundation of a sound and sturdy planning structure. In cybersecurity, there are best practices that create the same kind of foundations. For example, we use two-factor authentication to keep digital assets and systems safe. Two-factor authentication creates a higher level of protection and makes simple attacks less likely to succeed. In addition, frequently changing passwords and practicing overall good cyber hygiene assures you have awareness of the vulnerability in the cyber environment. This would be comparable to having two locks on the door or two different types of access controls for the perimeter.
Though we may be prepared, it is not always possible to prevent certain disasters from occurring as we have practiced, like a natural disaster. In the last few months, California faced deadly wild fires that displaced many individuals and burned down hundreds of homes. Firefighters were not quite trained for this specific incident however they had strategies in place for evacuation and fire management. This allowed local teams to manage accordingly and integrate arriving fire forces into the fight accordingly.
Value of Shared Goals
Shared goals allow us to work together in creating a safer and more resilient future. The NPG reminds us that national security is not a one-man job, rather it is a collective responsibility that falls on us all. There is no short end of the stick regarding a community approach, it is a win-win for all. Your neighbor’s preparedness may be the greatest asset in your community.