The security week that was: 10/17/08

A weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession

In the end, it seems unfortunate that national interest is given to what is really an unrealistic topic. If we’re going to debate airport security, let’s focus on real threats like insider operations. Let’s focus on new technology to speed up the traveler screening process. Let’s focus on challenging airport workers who don’t display ID credentials. Let’s make sure that background checks on workers are being done properly and often enough. Let’s figure out how to make sure the right people are flagged by secondary screening checks and by the Do-Not-Fly list. We can ban guns all we want from airports, but if we’re not going to put teeth to it, why bother?

GAO to labs: Secure the toxins
Report finds weak security at 2 of nation’s highest-level biosafety research labs

If there’s one place you want research to be safe, it’s when you’re dealing with deadly germs and toxins. While part of the security will come from safety measures like air locks, still another aspect is classic physical security. But according to a GAO report, some Biosafety Level 4 labs – the labs which deal with deadly germs and toxins – were not using adequate physical security. They cited a lack of video surveillance and some areas of entrance did not have proper access controls in place or were not staffed by security. The report found that some of the labs assessed, however, had very good security in place. The two bio labs that had weak security – reportedly the one at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio and one at Georgia State University in Atlanta – both responded that they would improve their security.

Recommended reading for security pros
Iran nationalism, Schneier’s newest book, Nilsson's book on IP video

Stephen Kinzer is author of All the Shah’s Men, the story of the 1953 CIA coup to overthrow Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh. While that book will set you back about $10-15, you don’t have to pay anything to read a fantastic historical summary of colonial and neo-colonial effects on Iran’s history by Kinzer which appears this month in the online version of Smithsonian Magazine. For a quick background education about anti-U.S. hostilities, this article, “Inside Iran’s Fury”, might just need to be required reading. It even ties in early U.S. military relations with Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

I would also suggest you check out Bruce Schneier’s newest book, Schneier on Security. He writes for Wired magazine, among others, and this book is largely a collection of his essays. If you’re looking for the kind of book that mixes philosophy with real-life security, or encryption with social engineering, this is it. I’ve been reading it in my spare time, and the small chapter essay format is great for stop-and-start reading when you’re pressed for time. The book comes out next week (Oct. 20 is the release date); you can pre-order from Amazon.

Fredrik Nilsson’s 440 page guide to intelligent network video presents some of the concepts you’ve seen in his columns which appear on and in Security Technology & Design, and there’s a lot more in the book. I just got my copy, so it’s too early for a personal review, but based on his credentials and work with IP video company Axis Communications, you can count on this book to showcase the current thinking and techniques used within IP video surveillance. I found the book available from Barnes & Noble online.

More news
Keynotes, stealing screener, electronic dog's nose

General Electric CSO Francis Taylor will keynote the ESX 2009 expo in Baltimore, Md. … A TSA screener from Newark was caught allegedly stealing electronics from passengers bags. … NIST has issued Special Publication 800-73-2; it provides specs for the HSDP-12 PIV card. … The IRS has self-identified security problems with its own computer systems which could weaken the security of taxpayer data. … SAIC landed an $18 million DARPA contract to develop a sensor that would be similar to the olfactory senses of a dog.