The Security Week That Was: A Recap - June 10-16, 2006

HSPD-12/FIPS 201, a.k.a., the government's one-card initiative, dominated the news this week. The biggest part of that news came from a small survey completed by a company called INPUT which is basically a consultancy/management firm for government bidding and procurement. The survey results were a real eye-opener, as they surveyed the IT security staffs at federal agencies on where they stood for HSPD-12 compliance.

The findings weren't exactly all sunshine. One of the chief findings was that legacy physical access systems may be a big hold-up in getting convergence to happen. The survey said that many respondents indicated they were faced with trying to integrate sometimes seven or more physical access platforms (likely at different facilities) before they could even begin the process of converging the network and physical access so that a one-card solution could work.

ADT jumped on that train this week at a semi-private homeland security conference/tradeshow in Washington, D.C. According to ADT's Paul Brisgone, who directs the company's federal systems division, FIPS 201 compliance was the hot topic. Brisgone's live report from SecTec '06 is offered as an MP3-formatted interview, and is part of's regular "SIW Radio" podcast series, available as a free download, or streamed from our site. Visit the SIW Radio landing page for more great audio interviews and news reports.

Why is this one-card, strengthened access solution such an important topic? We couldn't answer that question better than a paragraph from one of our news stories. A retired police officer, it seems, was able to perform a security assessment of the entry control system at the DHS headquarters using a very poorly faked "document."

From The Washington Times, via Lexis Nexis: Bruce DeCell, a retired New York City police officer, used his phony card - which lists his place of birth as "Tijuana, B.C." and his address as "123 Fraud Blvd." on an incorrectly spelled "Staton Island, N.Y." - to enter the building Wednesday for a meeting with DHS officials. (full story).

The Buzz about Alarm Verification

SIAC, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, reported this week that Governor Jeb Bush of the State of Florida has signed into law a bill that would require the use of enhanced call verification to minimize false alarms. Enhanced call verification, or ECV, typically requires that monitoring stations call at least two numbers to attempt to verify whether an alarm signal is a genuine signal, or simply a mistake or false alarm. The ECV protocol has recently been adopted by national companies like Protection One, which reports that ECV can effect a very significant decrease in false alarms.

In an interview with, SIAC's Executive Director Stan Martin said that the Florida ECV bill was a result of an effort from the state alarm association that linked up with direct discussions to police leaders in the state. He said that SIAC feels positive that the state will be aggressive in enforcing this new policy, and he hopes that it will provide a positive alternative to the potential of verified response policies.

That news comes just a week after the town of Carrollton, Texas, also adopted an ordinance requiring enhanced call verification of alarm signals. Carrollton is a "suburb" of Dallas, and it's interesting to note that this town went to ECV rather than Dallas' decision of verified response.

Also making headlines...

Assa Abloy's Frank Santamorena is back as the head security consultant for The Discovery Channel's "It Takes a Thief". ... AlliedBarton, the largest U.S.-owned manned security services provider, is buying Initial Security's U.S. operations. ... Devcon is selling off its construction division, focusing itself on its security business. ... GE Security announced new additions to its executive team, including the hiring of the special agent in charge of the state of Washington's field office as the company's new CSO.

So good we have to mention it again

Losing alarm customers? Think they're lost for good? Our regular monitoring/dealer columnist Bob Harris of The Attrition Busters tells how to approach would-be cancellations so that you retain those customers (and those dollars), all while providing better service. Harris' column originally appeared in our Security Markets & Systems weekly e-newsletter for our dealer/monitoring/integration readers.

Finally, we turn to our most read stories of the week, defining the beat of security for the week of June 10-16: