The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Dec. 16-22, 2006

I have a very good friend of mine who has been employed in recent years trying to help rebuild Afghanistan. He tries to create collaboration, improve education, and assist a war-torn country to move beyond that devastation and into the 21st century. I'd say he has a tough job, and he'd probably agree.

We spent some time going though a couple hundred of his best photos of Afghanistan. After enjoying the slide show, our talk turned to security, as four of us -- my friend, his brother (who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army), myself, and a former reporter who covered the middle East extensively -- burned the midnight oil to talk about the situation in Kabul.

My friend turned from time to time to discuss the security at the home where he and his wife live. We talked a bit about building hardening and how the house met UN/US residential security requirements. We also talked at length about the kind of window protection he has, which I found interesting because I interviewed Hinman Consulting Engineer's Hollice Stone as part of our podcast series for a segment about window films quite recently. I asked him whether his home had been attacked, and he told us, "Many times."

He told me about the "cartoon" riots in his streets (he's near the embassy) that were instigated by the cartoons depicting Mohammed in a Danish publication and how he had to direct his personal security detail on how to respond. He remarked how he studied how riots near the embassy affected his own home and how he spoken with the armed guards in his compound about how their security system needed to change based on how the rioters were presenting themselves when attacking the residential compound, where a number of Americans and other foreigners live.

He told of the rocks that regularly strike his windows when demonstrations and riots occur, and how the film does it job, bouncing the rocks away. But he also told me of the time a projectile, probably a big brick he later found lying in his courtyard, was able to crack the window despite the film. He says he has kept the spider-webbed glass in the window as a daily reminder to himself of the need to be vigilant. And that is the nature of residential security these days in Afghanistan.

In Other News
HSM sale inspires Brink's investors, Rail security plan unveiled, and more

Apparently the news last week of HSM's sale to Stanley Works got the investment community up in a rush. Before the dust could even settle on the Stanley-HSM acquisition, MMI Investments was calling for Brink's to look into a possible sale as well. Brink's seemed ambivalent about the whole thing, and the company spokesperson actually said the company itself was looking at acquisitions -- but where it would be the buyer, not the one sold.

The TSA came out with a plan for rail security that avoided the question of getting hazmat cars out of densely populated areas. Fortunately, the Transportation Department was wise enough to follow closely with their own plan -- which addressed that issue.

Synergx landed a NYC transit project. The integrator will be placing state-of-the-art camera systems in 32 stations. In another story of integration, electronics, cameras and biometrics supplier Oki landed a deal to supply high-tech iris recognition cameras to a Swiss bank for the company's new headquarters.

Finally to close, we republish the old SIW classic, "The Alarm Before Christmas":

Twas the Alarm Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a sensor was detecting anything, not even a mouse;

The PIRs were mounted in the corners with care,
In hopes they could catch a burglar who tried to come there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Knowing their CO monitors would keep the gas out of their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just programmed the keypad and settled down for a long winter's nap,

But in the midst of my slumber there arose such a clatter,
Decibels and strobes alerted me something was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
I disconnected the window positioner and threw up the sash.

My motion-activated floodlights shone on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Giving lustre of mid-day to the secured objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a getaway sleigh, and eight henchmen reindeer,

With a little old driver, dressed head-to-toe in black outfit,
I knew in a moment it must be the cat burglar St. Kit.

More rapid than infrared his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Smasher! now, Grabber! now, Pawned and Stolen!
On, Thiever! on Ransack! on, Snatcher and Hidden!

To the top of the porch! to the end of the hall!
Now grab away! Snatch away! Steal away all!"

As purse snatchers that before the town police fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, these henchmen mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top these brazen thieves flew,
With the getaway sleigh full of loot, and St. Kit too.

And then I heard them, sneaking around on my roof
The plotting and planning of each little hoof.

I was waiting for the monitoring station to call 'round,
But down the chimney St. Kit came with a bound.

He was dressed all in black spandex, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of stash bags he had flung on his back,
And he grinned as he thought about filling each sack.

His eyes -- how they slithered! his nimble legs so scary!
His hands snipped my phone cord, and he gave me a look with a tarry!

He was dark and mischievious, a right thorny old elf,
And I shuddered when I saw him, in spite of myself;

With a glint in his eye and a twist of his head,
He gave me to know I had everything to dread;

He spoke not a word, just went straight to his work,
And stole gifts and stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He kicked out the backdoor to the laundry, even stealing some clothes;

He sprang to the getaway sleigh, to the reindeer henchmen he gave whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

And I heard him exclaim, before he drove out of ear,
"Call your dealer for a better alarm system; I'll be back next year."

Happy Holidays to you and yours from the team (Geoff, Paul, Molly, Rob and Julie) and all of us with the Cygnus Security Group!