The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Nov. 11-17, 2006

I've heard a general grumbling from many integrators and vendors over the years. Some of these people have thrown up their hands and asked: Except for the big government security projects likes TWIC, SBInet, Registered Traveler and HSPD-12, why aren't we seeing more DHS homeland security dollars being spent on security projects?

It's a legitimate complaint. Many of the dollars have been spent in the offices of police stations and fire departments -- which is positive, since these men and women will forever be the ones who respond when things go wrong. But the homeland security money spent with those departments, it has always been understood, would be used on things that expanded the department to new threat responses. Examples would be hazmat gear; bomb disposal equipment; police-purchased municipal video surveillance, etc.

Well, it seems that for one Maryland County, the new "security response" is to the threat of hardened arteries and overweight firefighters. The Capital, a newspaper in Annapolis, Md., was gushing this week about how proud the county was to have received almost $800,000 from the DHS to buy bays of workout equipment for firefighters and to hire a staff "kinesiologist". Now firefighters obviously have a need to stay in shape, but that's not a post-9/11 security challenge. It's our opinion that money earmarked for security funds should have some relevance to security. After all, the terrorists aren't going to come bearing McDonald's combo meals that we need to protect our arteries against.

PS3 Product Launch Creates Retail Security Challenges
Retail security professionals need plans in place to address highly popular product launches

Marketing departments and manufacturers have become very savvy when it comes to product launches. They've been able to create pent-up demand of the kind that will draw customers out to wait in line at stores in the middle of the night during the month of November (brrrr!). That ability to draw diehard customers creates unique challenges for a retailers' general level of security.

Early this morning, at a Wal-Mart store in Hartford, Conn., thieves attacked a line of customers waiting to buy the Sony Play Station 3 (PS3). The customers were outside the store around 3 a.m. when thieves reportedly held everyone up, demanding money. One person, who refused to give money (the game console costs $600), was shot. There were reports of trouble at similar lines outside other company's stores.

There are some lessons to be learned here.

1) Make sure the retail sales staff is in communication with store security and local police to provide protection when these types of product launches occur.
2) Consider moving lines inside stores if possible, where customers can be better protected.
3) Consider using a number system (either a lottery, or a consecutive number system) so that potential buyers can get a number and then can return at a specific hour for a chance at the first units of a new product. This allows the customers to disperse, either into you store (where they can spend other funds), or off your retail campus.

Banking Security: The Realities of Financial Protection
ADT conference covers it all, but KeyCorp embezzlement underscores changing threat vectors

Earlier this week, you could have found me with a number of bank security directors who were meeting as part of the 2006 ADT Financial and Banking Security Symposium. From the latest FBI statistics, to dealing with mantrap vestibules, converging banking IT security with physical security, as well as addressing phishing, ATM attacks and good ole fashioned bank robberies, the symposium covered it all. even partnered with ADT to launch a live webinar from the show itself (you can view the archived event for free). We posted an interview with attendee Gareth Webley (CSO, National City Bank), and an article with one speaker's tips on protecting ATMs.

We probably should have been speaking more about the situation at KeyCorp, where a bank employee allegedly embezzled $29 million in three years. It takes a lot of bank robberies to hit a cost of $29 million.

One of the interesting statistics that we heard at the symposium relates to this KeyCorp situation perfectly. Some 40 percent of tellers and basic-level bank employees are approached in their own banks' parking lots about becoming involved in a crime which would target the bank. A top bank security director (who asked to go unnamed) in the audience told me that many of those teller positions were paid so poorly that "it's a half step above being the fry cook at Burger King." "They might get offered $5,000 [to aid in the crime]," he added. "That's a lot of money for a 22-year-old kid who's struggling to pay rent."

In Other News
NJ alarm case, Live from Securing New Ground, Exploring home technologies, and more

The CSAA, the NBFAA and the NJBFAA have all bonded together to file a "friend of the court" briefing regarding the case in New Jersey which found an alarm company liable for the theft that happened at a customer's premises. The ruling in the case promises to shake our industry right at its foundations, and speaks to the importance of contracts, and to the interpretations of such contracts. Look for more coverage from on this case. ... Cygnus Security (ST&D, Security Dealer) Group Publisher Susan Whitehurst filed a show report live from the Securing New Ground conference in New York. ... New SIW columnist Keith Davis of AVAD's dealer-to-builder program kicked off a column series this week that will serve to educate security dealers on expanding into the home technologies market. Coincidentally, ISC followed up by announcing that it would be creating a SmartHome project at its tradeshows. ... Fraud isn't just something big corporations have to face; Virginia Tech has been facing "highly convincing" fake tickets at its football games in past years, and the tickets are starting to show up this season as well.

Finally, a look at our most popular stories of the week: