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Protecting Our Nation’s Physical and Cyber Infrastructure Since 9/11

This is part of a series of blog posts exploring the progress we’ve made in implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations. Read previous posts.

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and reflect on that tragic day, it’s also important to take stock of how far we’ve come as a Nation when it comes to enhancing our safety and security. While threats certainly persist, we are also more prepared to confront those threats head on. We are more resilient than ever before.

There are also new challenges. Many of the cyber networks and much of the physical infrastructure we rely on every day are more closely linked and interdependent than ten years ago. A problem at a control system in one part of the country can affect a power plant in another part of the country, which can affect a business transaction taking place in an entirely different part of the country. These challenges require strong partnerships.

The National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) is responsible for protecting and enhancing the resiliency of the Nation’s infrastructure, which includes everything from power plants and electric grids, to chemical facilities, cyber networks and information systems, and the federal buildings where millions of Americans work and visit each day. NPPD works closely with the private sector and state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to minimize risks and maximize our ability to respond to the kinds of risks we face.

I want to recognize just a few of the many contributions NPPD has made to enhance the resiliency and security of our nation since 9/11.



  • Enhancing emergency communication infrastructure and improving interoperability between first responders across all levels of government.
  • Distributing threat warnings through the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a 24-hour watch and warning center that serves as the nation's principal hub for organizing cyber response efforts.
  • Analyzing and reducing cyber threats and vulnerabilities by working with companies to stop possible threats and share information.
  • Coordinating response to cyber incidents through the National Cyber Incident Response Plan, which lays out the roles of federal agencies, state and local governments, and hundreds of private.
  • Regulating security at high-risk chemical facilities to prevent theft and security breaches.
  • Protecting federal facilities and their occupants by promoting public vigilance and suspicious activity reporting activities.
  • Screening those coming into the country, through the collection of digital fingerprints and photographs from international travelers at U.S. visa-issuing posts and ports of entry, to help immigration officers determine whether a person is eligible to receive a visa or enter the United States.
  • Improving biometric information-sharing across the Department through a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) mobile biometrics collection system, which identifies undocumented migrants and matches them against known databases of past criminal and immigration violations as well as terrorist watchlists.

These efforts have played a critical role in providing a strong foundation to protect communities from terrorism and other threats while safeguarding the fundamental rights of all Americans.

On behalf of NPPD, we honor the lives lost on 9/11 and recognize the many men and women of DHS as well as our partners, law enforcement officers, and emergency management professionals who tirelessly work on the front lines everyday protecting America, at home and abroad.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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