08 July 2010 15:56 [Source: ICIS news]
BALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS news)--US chemical producers and distributors must take steps to prevent diversion of chemical products that can be used to create weapons of mass destruction, a top federal enforcement official said on Thursday.
Larry Stanton, senior technical advisor to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on infrastructure security compliance, told industry executives that diversion of hazardous chemicals can pose a greater national security risk than outright theft because diversions can be subtle and undetected.
“We worry a bit more about diversion than theft,” ?xml:namespace>
He said diversion of weapons-capable chemicals differs from outright theft in that “the bad guys get what they shouldn’t have by means of deception”.
He said terrorists can easily rent a garage or some warehouse space, put up a sign, get a phone line activated and file a doing-business-as registration with local government to establish a bank account and obtain credit.
“Then they call your company and order $50,000 worth of hydrogen peroxide and have you deliver it to their phony company at the warehouse... they might even pay for it - and then they’re gone,” he said.
Terrorists also might use a tactic long familiar to criminal law enforcement agencies, known as creating a “breakout company”. In this, a terrorist group purchases an existing company and uses it to order materials it needs for an attack.
“This has been done many number of times to acquire narcotics-related chemicals,”
The breakout tactic is a risky procedure for terrorists because a corporate registration leaves a public trail,
He said that terrorists might also use the threat of force to co-opt a chemical company employee in order to obtain needed compounds, or pose on the telephone as the representative of a real chemicals-consuming company to order materials - known as a “false flag” approach - for delivery to a new address.
Chemicals manufacturers also have to guard against cyber attacks as a means of diversion, he said, warning that terrorists could hack into a company’s online ordering system to direct the delivery of substances to any destination they want.
To guard against product diversions,
Also critical in combating the diversion of dangerous chemicals are doing background checks on those with access to products and a company’s online systems, maintaining inventory controls and the physical security of inventory, protecting customer details, and training sales, credit and accounting personnel in security sensitivity.
“If an order seems too good to be true, it probably is,” he said, adding that a sales force must be alert for unusual patterns in ordering among a company’s customer base.
The security conference, which is cosponsored by the DHS and industry associations in the Chemical Sector Co-ordinating Council, concludes on Thursday.
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