The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Oct. 14-20, 2006

SIW Editor Geoff Kohl gives a weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession


Here at SecurityInfoWatch.com, we're big champions of new technologies and of new applications of existing technologies. But sometimes, there are things that just make us go "Huh?" Case in point, Optag, a project by researchers at the University College - London, wants to put long-range RFID chips on every airport passenger.

The goal, ostensibly, is to be able to track where suspicious passengers are inside the airport. Passengers would be given the chip at check-in, and then cameras and sensors would be able to track the passenger's movements. The system is even being tested at an airport in Hungary next month.

Obviously, the concept of the technology is pretty neat, and the security part of us that says "Watch everything, track everything" is genuinely infatuated with the technology. But in terms of practicality, this kind of solution doesn't really jive.

First of all, in an airport, the system is design such that the security checkpoint separates the high-security area from the low-security area. Secondly, since the chips are theoretically designed to track suspicious passengers, it raises two questions. 1) If you know the person is suspicious when they're tagged, why not pull them aside and address that concern? 2) If they're cleared by security, what need do you really have to worry about them?

Third, there's this symbol: $. Just because you can add multiple layers of technology to achieve a boost in security doesn't mean you can pay for them. In an environment where the customers have already seen significant fare add-on costs due to security improvements post-9/11, we have to ask how much more security air customers are willing to pay for (and as advanced as this technology is, you can bet it won't be cheap).

Nonetheless, despite our cynicism about the practicality of such a project, we have to recognize how this kind of project can advance the core technologies of long-range tracking and video tracking, and to that we say, "Well done."

Password Insecurity
One-in-three failing basic protection methods of passwords

While Optag's technology is a technological dream, this news story is no dream at all. Instead, you can call it a double espresso shot of security awareness. A new study from Nuclear Research and KnowledgeStorm indicates that one in three workers is failing basic password security protocols. The researches found that about one-third of workers are writing their passwords down on paper (picture a Post-it note stuck to the monitor) or saving all their passwords in a text file on their PC's hard drive. Even the best password, like an "A23bo83idy" mix of numbers and letters, is no good unless it's kept under wraps.

Clearly this is a serious, ongoing security training problem that CIOs and CSOs must address, but it's not solely limited to the IT side of the house. Not all of the PCs in a business are being used for business emails and sales spreadsheets. Chances are pretty good you've got passwords for the electronic physical security systems, like the access control systems running on your PCs. Have you sufficiently trained your own security staff about basic computer security?

So Happy Together: Cable VoIP and Alarm Systems
Brink's and Comcast team up for sales promo, technical service

For years industry soothsayers have said there could come a day when major telecomm providers got into alarm monitoring. Fortunately, we've stayed away from that vision. Nonetheless, with the VoIP technology switch that's been happening lately, it was positive to see that cable and VoIP digital phone provider Comcast had linked up with Brink's Home Security in a part-technology, part-sales partnership.

Objection, Your Honor
Alarm sales folks: Have you heard these before?

This content continues onto the next page...