The Security Week That Was: A Recap - May 13-19, 2006

A long-standing Freedom of Information Act request spurred the Department of Defense this week to release video from two security cameras that depict American Airlines Flight 77 striking the Pentagon on 9/11. The videos, which are available for download from are a strong reminder of why we're all in this industry, and no, it's not for the money.

The video captures an otherwise gorgeous, sunny morning disrupted by the terrorists' attack. If you've ever wondered why you spend countless hours going over and over a security plan, or specifying a thorough security system design, this video is a pertinent reminder. While the attack happens so fast that the plane (estimated to be traveling at better than 300 mph) is just a blur, those few seconds of low-frame-rate video will forever memorialize the 125 people who died in the Pentagon and the 64 who died aboard Flight 77.

Finally, a brief note about why the Pentagon released the surveillance footage: As many of you may be aware, there are those in this country who claim that the Pentagon's attack by Flight 77 was a hoax or that it was part of a government conspiracy. They argue that no remains of the plane existed and that it was probably a missile, despite the eye-witness reports from responding personnel. A group called Judicial Watch, which sought to disprove those who claimed the attack was a hoax or part of a conspiracy theory, performed the request to make the tapes public.

Do a good deed

Silent Knight, the fire detection systems arm of Honeywell, announced this week that it had become involved in the television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The company donated a Silent Knight 5208 with expansion zones and a 4-zone relay board for the rebuild of a home that was to house a family who had lost their previous home to a fire. If you've done a similar installation or provided some other community benefit at your security/fire company, please let us know. We'd like to share those stories with your fellow readers.


ADT, OATSystems and Intel teamed up this week to create an RFID study that would examine ROI for retailers. The study, while not aimed at security, would feature the installation of an RFID system for 10 retail stores, and then would turn the data over to an academic institution for the final ROI analysis. While it's clearly a sales/operations use of RFID, today's security mantra is that technologies often have to do two tasks. The same system that can track goods can also share fraud insights.

Transportation and security

There was a great deal of news this week in terms of transportation security, so let's start with the biggest. On Thursday, SIW broke the news that the TSA had created new air cargo security regulations, which included a TSA-managed database of "known shippers," as well as more cargo inspectors, background checks for air cargo workers, plus security training for the largest air cargo companies. It was welcome news; many in our industry have pointed to the remaining weaknesses in air cargo security, and this is a much-needed attempt to shore up those weaknesses.

Video analytics for transportation applciations also made a splash this week as two of the leading analytics companies released statements describing recent projects. Notably, ObjectVideo landed a contract with Barcelona's Metro mass transit service to use the company's analytics for intrusion detection in stations and tunnels. Go north from Barcelona to find Helsinki's Vantaa Airport, which is using Vidient's intelligent video technology to identity when security lanes get too long. And finally, while it's not a transportation application, the folks at 3VR are hosting a free webinar detailing a video analytics deployment at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

Scratching our heads over this one

There is at least one security story each week that makes us ask, "Huh?" This week it came from the State Department, which after political pressure, has decided to realign how it will use some of the 16,000 computers it bought from N.C.-based Lenovo, the world's #3 computer maker. About 900 of those computers were slated to be used with classified information, but therein lies the problem. Lenovo is partially owned (less than 30 percent) by the Chinese government, and it was decided by some politicos that because the computer maker is partly-affiliated with the Chinese, that there could be some sort of embedded Trojan to steal classified information and re-route it to the Chinese. Do we really think that's the case? Would the IT department agree? Read the story and decide for yourself.

Finally, our most read stories of the week: