The Heritage Foundation is holding an interesting series this week focusing on Homeland Security and bringing together a number of people who have served in the early years of the department to share enlightening dialogue on their insights and expertise.

One thing is for certain, it is hard to take credit for what hasn’t happened. In the years since September 11, 2001, twenty-four terror plots have been disrupted in the United States. This is top of mind given recent arrests in Denver and New York.   The thwarted plot looks a lot like a very well planned out attack on major transit that was well along in the planning and, perhaps, even close to the execution phase

Despite these recent developments, the American public suffers from complacency.  As the years pass it is very easy to get in the “it couldn’t happen to me mode.”  The American public should fight this urge – it is essential that we not become complacent.

We seem to be relatively good at learning from our past, but how are we at anticipating what will come next?  September 11th put the focus on airline security, knowing more about the people who are coming into our country, and getting various law enforcement and intelligence agencies talking and sharing information. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve made progress and we continue to debate the balance between privacy and security.

Further, Hurricane Katrina showed us that an investment in upgrading critical infrastructure would have been a great move a decade sooner. Instead we waited until an entire city was destroyed.  The positive take away was that we learned a huge lesson. As a result, we are much more focused on protecting critical infrastructure, fostering an ethic of preparedness and practicing for catastrophic events with federal state and local entities at the table.

What will be next? What should we be anticipating, and, are we managing risk appropriately? It is not just up to the government, what are you doing in your life?

October is Cyber Security Month. Cyber terrorism certainly has the potential to bring commerce to a grinding halt and wreak economic havoc. One influential leader from the last administration commented at the Heritage event this week that it will take a cyber 9/11 to get Congress and the executive branch focused on the capability and thought leadership that needs to be developed on the civilian side of the U.S. government.

What about you? Do you bank and pay taxes on your computer? Are you protected? Do you open every attachment that comes through your e-mail? You were planning to get a flu shot, what about computer viruses? Remember Y2K? Everyone thought the world might shut down. What if it happens now? Will you be ready? Have you even thought about it lately?