The security week that was: 1/02/09

A look back upon the top 10 trends and issues of 2008

The Top 10 Security Industry Issues and Trends of 2008

It’s that time when we look back over the previous year and think about what made news and what significantly affected our industry. From a general economic slowdown to a push for video surveillance standards, 2008 was both a glorious year and an economically difficult year. But through it all, the industry chugged on, rolling out new technologies, facing terrible incidents, and generally “doing business”. To sum it all up, I’d like to take this issue of The Security Week That Was and recap 10 of the biggest news events and trends that affected our industry in 2008. But before I do, I also suggest you check out our list of the biggest stories of 2008, garnered from the news headlines than rang out across the SIW homepage each day. While this recap boils it down to 10, our “top 40” gives you an even broader look at what made news in 2008.

10. Mumbai terror attacks: While I am somewhat loathe to mention this terrible series of attacks as a defining story for 2008, it was defining nonetheless. The attacks in Mumbai taught us about critical vulnerabilities to soft targets as much as 9/11 taught us. It taught us about military response to a diverse attack sequence and it taught us of new threat vectors. From challenges with securing one of the world’s busiest cities to collaboration among responders, there are lessons to be learned from Mumbai and many around the world are studying these terrorist attacks as a lesson for overall preparedness. Like 9/11 and similar events around the world from this past decade, the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 are a ghastly reminder of the importance of security and intelligence operations.

9. Pirates: While overall numbers of pirate attacks might not be up noticeably, the targets for pirate attacks, especially in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia, have become more high profile. The taking of a supertanker underscored this, and according to many this trend in piracy isn’t an easy problem to solve, even with multilateral forces patrolling the seas. Piracy became a global security problem for shipping companies and even cruiselines.

8. The election’s effect on DHS: With the election of Barack Obama to serve as president of the United States, it meant major shake-ups in the top of the U.S. government as the Republicans transitioned out and the Democrats readied to transition into power. Closely watched by the security industry was Obama’s pick for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. In Bush’s years, the DHS faced the 9/11 attacks and the Hurricane Katrina fiasco as well as the issue of border security. Now, with Janet Napolitano, the governor Arizona, picked to run the DHS, many expect to see new ideas on border security, and there are many who believe that Napolitano will be a champion of technology-based solutions for homeland security. Without a doubt, she will hold one of the toughest and most demanding positions of security leadership anywhere, and we wish her success in 2009 and the years ahead.

7. The rise of H.264: The compression method known as H.264 was the darling of consultants, product developers, and the security news media in 2008. It was heralded as the compression standard which would allow higher resolution video, or higher frame rates, to be transmitted across networks without creating as much of an impact on bandwidth (and without the lossy image “artifacts” of other compression protocols). Simultaneously, it was touted as the compression standard that wouldn’t eat up your digital storage solutions as quickly. But there was one caveat: It required more processing power than the formats of MJPEG or MPEG-4. Nonetheless, if Moore’s Law is real and processing power availability continues to increase, then H.264 will be the top choice for system specifiers and component manufactuers. In fact, many security component manufacturers have already rolled out H.264 compression into surveillance cameras, NVRs and video management platforms.

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