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Security Risk Assessment Methodologies

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In the early 1970's, Sandia National Laboratories was tasked by the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop concepts, technologies, and solutions to address the concern of theft of nuclear materials in transit between DOE facilities. At the same time, the Air Force initiated a program at Sandia to conduct physical security Research and Development and implement security systems to protect critical assets around the world. In the mid-1970's the DOE designated Sandia as the Lead Laboratory for development of physical security technology and funded Sandia to develop a technical capability in security modeling and systems analysis, security equipment and components, and security systems engineering, integration and implementation.

For more than 30 years, Sandia has applied performance-based methods for designing and evaluating physical protection systems (PPS). This approach has been applied for many years to high-consequence government facilities, and in the last several years this approach has been modified, tested, and applied to various critical infrastructures, (e.g., federal dams, power utilities, water utilities, etc.). An overview is presented to describe the adaptation of this process to the requirements of several types of non-nuclear facilities and critical infrastructures.

While non-nuclear sites, facilities, and critical infrastructures may not require the highest levels of security used at nuclear weapons sites, the approach is the same. The foundation of a risk assessment methodology (RAM) is the evaluation and design of an integrated performance-based system. Each specific RAM is comprised of the following major steps:

  • Planning
  • Threat Assessment
  • Site Characterization
  • Consequence Assessment
  • System Effectiveness
  • Risk Analysis
  • Risk Management and Reduction




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