People are the critical infrastructure

May 11, 2007

Sometimes we get caught up in technology-centric security.

We talk about high-tech systems that integrate access and video, and which allow for integrated alarm event management. We talk megapixels and gigahertz and VPNs and thumbdrives and PKIs and DVRs. We talk about critical infrastructure and think about powerplants and major utilities systems, ports and the things that make our world move. But I'll posit that your people are the critical infrastructure. I was reminded of that core notion when talking with a friend of mine who is in Kandahar. Now Kandahar, Afghanistan, isn't the friendliest place in the world. In fact, most would probably place it in the top 10 of most unfriendly places to be. It's the kind of place where attackers directly target aid workers and journalists in addition to soliders and local government officials. It's where just one day ago a vehicle driver for the U.N.'s refugee agency was killed on his way to work by men on a motorbike.

When we occassionaly catch up over messaging or email, we sometimes talk security, though we often try to move the subject to something that doesn't weigh so heavily – like former adventures in the Appalachian Mountains or surfing the Atlantic breaks. He is not a twitchy type of person, not the kind of person who is continually nervous about security. Having been in that part of the world for about three years, it's a part of life. Bulletproof glass and automatic weapons mix with the fact that life must go on, that his wife is expecting and that family and friends are halfway around the planet.

I'm not sure there's a point to saying all of this, other than when you get caught up in thinking about how to budget for another surveillance camera or a new card access project, sometimes it's good to step back and think that, somewhere around the world, a heavily armored, South African-made Nyala anti-mine vehicle and a gun slung on the shoulder is what security means when protecting your people, your critical infrastructure.

Nyala armored transport vehicle, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
The "sports car" of secured travel in Afghanistan: A South African-made Nyala armored patrol vehicle in the Kandahar province

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