What do we do?
This working group focuses very specifically on identifying threats to the U.S. food and water systems and developing detection and mitigation strategies that can be used by corporations, commodities, and utilities. Once threats are identified and mitigation strategies are developed, the working group will disseminate that information to corporations, commodities, utilities, and the general public.
“Threats are not static. They evolve, so the solutions of today might not be appropriate tomorrow,” says Bob Norton, the working group’s chair. “We have to constantly examine the nature of threats, and develop robust and adaptable strategies that can be used to counter the threats we identify.”
SEEKING INPUT. The AUFSI Food and Water Defense Working Group is different from similar organizations because we are more intelligence-oriented. We will be gathering threat data and working closely with the relevant law enforcement and government agencies as well as the Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) that are intended to provide a central resource for gathering information on cyber threats to critical infrastructure. The 18 ISACs are supposed to provide “two-way” sharing of information between the public and private sector, and the working group intends to be an advocate for corporations in the food and agriculture sectors to assure their voices are heard.
“We will be seeking a lot of input from industry,” Norton says. “What do they need and want?”
Auburn University has a great deal of experience working with the U.S. Department of Defense, and working group members combine a broad range of experience. One of the working group’s activities will be to create custom threat assessments for companies and utilities in the sector. Information that is not suitable for public distribution will be available only via a “members only” section, and private messaging will be implemented.
‘WICKED’ PROBLEMS. The Food and Water Defense Working Group also will provide advice about “harmonizing” all the food and water defense requirements and regulations coming down from various agencies, as well as advocating with governmental agencies for industries in these sectors. Corporations need an organization that will problem solve and help them navigate, through one-on-one consulting if necessary.
Dealing with the complexity of different federal regulations is a good example of a “wicked” problem, Norton says. “Wicked” problems are different from difficult ones because clear. Solutions might not be apparent, with so many interwoven factors that one solution never really fits or is transitory because the problem has evolved.