The security week that was: 08/15/08

Converged hacking: They want in

Everyone in the world of physical security may be tired of the word “convergence”, but apparently hackers aren’t even close to exhausting the possibilities of "converged hacking". According to an article reported from DefCon (a hacker show held in Vegas last week), one of the show's focuses was in taking advantage of physical access to facilities. It’s not hard to figure out why: If you are inside my network, you likely have less security to get through than if you are trying to hack in from outside my network. In sum: Give a hacker an actual local area network (LAN) connection, and the business of hacking suddenly gets much easier.

On that note, there was a session on picking locks (Gale Johnson, editor of our sister publication Locksmith Ledger magazine gave us a great response in my blog to what was really going on; he says "don't believe the hype"). There was also such physical-meets-network security discussion of how hackers could use microphones to identify keystrokes (as opposed to using a software-based keystroke logger to steal your passwords). Other tactics: Sending an iPhone-like device into a company mailroom so it can scan for open network points.

Not much is changing, I guess. Two years ago, we had a report from DefCon about how hackers weren’t trying to fake fingerprints to beat biometrics systems. Rather, they were just going after the back-end computer systems running the biometric readers and attacking those computers through standard Windows and Linux hacks.

Airport gun ban stays interesting Judge upholds Atlanta airport gun ban, but issue hits second amendment

In a recent column, I discussed the peculiar case of the challenge against a gun ban at the Atlanta Airport (yes, this is the same airport much of our industry will be flying to in about 4 weeks for the start of the 2008 ASIS International Seminars and Exhibits Expo). The case was brought about by a Georgia gun rights group. That group argued that the recent case which forced D.C. to drop its gun ban could also be applied to public facilities like airports. A federal judge has now ruled that the Atlanta Airport does have the right to keep guns out of its terminals. The issue was so politically heated that a Georgia legislator threatened to test the gun ban with a “high noon” style showdown at the airport; fortunately the legislator didn’t have as much of a spine as he originally believed, and he backed down from the gun ban showdown – likely avoiding arrest and imprisonment.

The issue is primarily one of security and a facility’s right to self-determination on issues of security, especially when and where guns can be carried. However, the TSA is getting involved and there is a push afoot to make all parts of airports gun free – and this could include vehicles on the roads that come through airports to drop passengers off or even the short and long-term parking. In this columnist’s opinion, such a move would seem to overstep the boundaries of the right to bear arms. Sure, keep guns out of the terminals and the central parts of our airport facilities, but don’t use that attitude to invade a private individual’s personal space like their vehicle simply because it's parked at a storage lot.

New dealer programs Envysion, plus AT&T/Xanboo

Security dealers and integrators looking for potential revenue programs should check out two announcements from this week. First, AT&T and Xanboo announced a program that links remote video access with alarm systems and even home automation. Then, just a few days later, Envysion announced a new RMR program for security dealers that involves adding remote access to video surveillance.

In other news Fire-Lite’s new VP, HP buys Colubris, teams with SafetyCare

HP is buying Colubris Networks, which gives it a stronger footprint for offering wireless networks. This is notable for our industry because HP has targeted some of its ProCurve division towards network-connected surveillance solutions, and because wireless is a fast-growing aspect of video surveillance infrastructure. … Honeywell Fire-Lite has named a new vice president: David Pakech. He brings experience from Westinghouse’s electrical division and Siemens’ Energy & Automation group. … and SafetyCare have established a partnership to offer a monitoring solution that is designed to help keep elderly family members able to live independently but still be in touch instantly if a health incident occurrs.

In the SIW forums Remote hosting of surveillance video: Is it worthwhile?

Forum members, including security systems integrators, end users and some vendors debate the value of off-site hosted video surveillance for small businesses. Among the issues raised were uptime, bandwidth and accessibility. If storing video surveillance off-site (i.e., not locally at a DVR or an NVR) is something you’re considering, join in this discussion. Membership in the SecurityInfoWatch Forums is free, but does require a quick registration.

Finally, we close with a look at our Most Read Stories of the Week: