Sector Chief Highlight: Abrahem Helal
A word from your Commercial Facilities Deputy Sector Chief
How long have you worked in your sector? How did you become interested in your sector?
I first became involved and interested in the Commercial Facilities (CF) sector when I started my career with Gray Graphics Corporation in May 1997. Gray Graphics received a Department of Defense (DoD) Secret Level facility security clearance in 2010. As one of only a select group of providers cleared to pr
ocess and protect sensitive printed material for the US Government, Gray Graphics works with the US Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
Why is your sector considered critical infrastructure, and why is it so important to protect?
The CF sector is made up of an extremely diverse range of sites and assets where large numbers of people congregate daily to conduct business, purchase retail products, and enjoy recreational events and accommodations. Most facilities have open public access and house the business activities and commercial transactions that dominate the US economy. In general, CF are privately owned and operated with minimal oversight from federal, state, and regional government regulatory entities. Asset size can range from as small as a one-room museum to stadiums that can host events large and high profile enough to be designated as National Special Security Events (NSSEs) by DHS.
What are the biggest threats to your sector’s operations?
CF are not typically as heavily fortified as government assets and as such are typically more easily compromised. Foreign governments tend to target CF that process sensitive material, as they are often able to infiltrate information systems or place an “insider” to work within a company to gain access to protected information.
Has your sector been in the news recently? If so, for what?
In a 2015 CNN article by Welsey Bruer, Bruer states that “The FBI has seen a sharp rise in economic espionage cases aimed at US companies, with a vast majority of the perpetrators originating from China with ties to the nation’s government”. Examples of large corporations successfully targeted in the past such include DuPont, Lockheed Martin and Valspar, who have since worked with the FBI to further safeguard their intellectual property.
To highlight this growing threat to the US economy, the FBI has launched a nationwide campaign intended to warn industry leaders of the danger they face from foreign actors.
What are the biggest concerns of your sector right now (politically, socially, economically)?
Domestic and international terrorist threats. The Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 highlighted the danger posed by homegrown violent extremists (HVEs). The insider threat of a radicalized individual who works at a commercial facility and uses his/her inside knowledge to exploit vulnerabilities is also a growing concern.
Cyber threats. Adversaries have successfully executed point-of-sale attacks on large retailers and hotels to gain access to confidential data, which has cost companies and financial institutions hundreds of millions of dollars.
Use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The increased use of UAS, also called drones, and the absence of regulations is a growing threat for the CF Sector. These devices are of serious concern and can be used to cause damage to persons and property, as well as cause alarm at CF events or locations.
Growing size and frequency of mass protests. Social media is facilitating increasingly rapid, larger, and coordinated protest activities at CF. Protests can pose sanitation, public safety, economic, and other risks to CF occupants and guests.
What is one interesting/funny fact about your sector?
The CF sector is broad and encompasses:
49,000 entertainment & media establishments;
1,400 casinos and associated resorts;
53,000 hotel based properties;
570 amusement and theme parks;
125,000 public assembly establishments;
1 million office buildings;
5.6 million multi-family rental buildings;
48,000 self-storage facilities;
134 million attendees at annual sport league events.