Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today (Nov. 17) hosted the first in a series of roundtable meetings with private sector leaders to discuss critical infrastructure security and unveiled a new Web site designed to inform the public about the Department’s critical infrastructure protection, readiness and resiliency efforts—part of her increased effort to heighten awareness about the importance of protecting America’s vital assets, systems and networks over the coming weeks.

On the same day of the meetings, an official in the Cyber Division of the FBI told Congress that it is investigating people with suspected links to al Qaeda who have shown an interest in mounting an attack on computer systems that control critical U.S. infrastructure. While there is no evidence that terrorist groups have developed sophisticated cyber-attack capabilities, a lack of security protections in U.S. computer software increases the likelihood that terrorists could execute attacks in the future.

“Securing our nation’s critical infrastructure is vital to maintaining the safety of communities across the country,” said Secretary Napolitano. “DHS is committed to working with federal, state, local, territorial and tribal partners, the private sector and the public to protect against threats to these assets—from cyber networks to drinking water.”

During today’s meeting with leadership from the Sector Coordinating Councils of the Energy, Nuclear, Water and Chemical Sectors, Secretary Napolitano highlighted her commitment to ensuring a more ready and resilient national approach to critical infrastructure protection—promoting vigilance, preparedness and risk reduction.

This session was the first of three Secretary Napolitano expects to hold with sector leaders. Two additional sessions are scheduled in the next two weeks focusing on public health, transportation, government facilities, information technology, communications, postal and shipping, national monuments and icons, manufacturing, and agriculture and food, emergency services, and defense industrial base sectors, among others.

The new Web site — — is designed to provide stakeholders and the public with easily accessible information about their role in safeguarding critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR). The Web site features a link to the new CIKR Resource Center, which includes information about how to sign up for free Web-based seminars on the tools, trends, issues, and best practices for infrastructure protection and resilience; resources concerning potential vulnerabilities for chemical facilities; and details about the National Response Framework, which outlines guidance for all response partners to prepare for and provide a unified response to disasters and emergencies.

The Web site also provides information about DHS’ ongoing CIKR efforts—including the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), the U.S. Government’s unified approach, coordinated by DHS, to ensure protection and resiliency of CIKR through partnerships with thousands of public and private members.

CIKR include physical and digital assets, systems and networks that play significant roles in America’s safety, economy and public health. Their incapacitation or destruction could debilitate the overall stability of the United States and threaten national security.

CIKR is comprised of 18 unique sectors—the vast majority of which is owned and operated by the private sector—including key areas such as food and water, manufacturing, energy, communications and transportation systems, and emergency services. DHS engages with these private sector partners via Government and Sector Coordinating Councils, which bring together state, local, tribal and private sector partners to coordinate security efforts.