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1. Transportation Security
2. Bridge and Tunnel Vulnerability Assessments

3. Highway Vulnerability Assessment

Introduction

Surface and sea modes of transportation present a degree of vulnerability to terrorist attacks and could also have an impact on the global networks and economies to which they are connected. Given the potential economic and social losses from terrorist attacks on surface transportation, the following is an insight about the threats to surface transportation.

The majority of international terrorist attacks involve at least one of the many different modes of transportation. of these, surface transportation has especially been targeted because of the high psychological , social and/or economic impact an attack might generate. The characteristics usually ascribed to surface transportation systems illustrates their relative vulnerability to being targeted or used by terrorists:

  • they are open and accessible to ensure that large volumes of goods and people are moved efficiently, conveniently and expediently
  • There are extensive and ubiquitous, with large physical infrastructures, assets and fixed facilities, such as terminals and maintenance bays, many of them unguarded and unattended
  • they emphasize efficiency and compositeness, often to the detriment of costly security measures
  • they are owned, operated, used and overseen by various public and private bodies, making the coordination of security measures and emergency responses difficult, when more than one body is involved, and
  • they are intertwined with society and the global economy by virtue of their local, national and international delivery and carrying functions

Statistics compiled by the San Jose-based Minetta Transportation Institute indicate that between 1920 and 2000, 66 percent of the attacks against surface transportation globally where intended to kill and 37 percent actually caused fatalities, which is double the rate for terrorist attacks, in general. While relatively sparse between 1920 and 1975, attacks against surface transportation significantly increased over the next 25 years.

The methods used to reach these targets during the same period varied widely, but remained concentrated on bombings and arson (used 63 percent of time), which wave proven to be the most lethal forms of attack.

Twenty-seven percent of the 900 attacks compiled by the Minetta Transportation Institute between 1920 and 2000 occurred in Western Europe, North America and Japan. Only nine percent of these incidents, however involved fatalities, suggesting that attacks against advanced democracies during that period where primarily aimed at disrupting surface transportation systems and alarming the public at large, rather than causing multiple casualties. Countries which have suffered most fatalities as a result of attacks on surface transportation are India, Pakistan, Algeria, Cambodia and Sir Lanka (all over 180), while Israel has suffered the most attacks on surface transportation systems during that period. Of all the attacks on surface transportation, with fatalities (37 percent of all attacks), 23 percent of them caused ten fatalities or more.

Major terrorist attacks against surface transportation might have inspired disturbed individuals to carry out copycat attacks elsewhere. A post 9-11 example of this is the attack against a Greyhound buss in the United States, which resulted in six deaths. Surface transportation is also facing difficult problems of criminal nature, including "cargo theft, violations of export controls, narcotics and migrant smuggling" and more common problems such as the fraudulent use of commercial drivers' licenses and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) endorsements. Buses and large trucks are attractive to terrorists for reasons similar as those favored by criminals (their cargo capacity and the ease with which they can be acquired), as well as their easy access to population centers and critical infrastructure sites.

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