The Security Week That Was: 10/19/07

Too Much Information?

I had an interesting discussion this morning about a top security story that has made its way to the national news. Can you guess which one? It's the report about how many fake bombs -- which were planted by Homeland Security to test screening operations -- were not being picked up by the security process. On a side note, we also picked up an article from a major newspaper discussing the in-depth training TSA is doing to make sure this won't happen in the future.

As a journalist whose audience is security professionals like you, this news leads to a mighty internal debate centered on the question: "Do those kinds of failures deserve national attention?" Most likely, good security professionals would argue that those failures need to stay out of the media and need to be privately addressed. They would argue that such information might even be "sensitive" and should only be shared between the government and relevant service providers, airports, airlines, security trainers, etc. This side of the debate posits that spreading such information only serves to encourage terrorists to "try us." Indeed, as someone deeply concerned about security in all aspects, that argument strikes a very real nerve with me.

But the other side of the equation is that the true "end user" of security is Joe Citizen -- it's you, it's your children, family members, friends....that these are the people who everyday hop aboard airplanes and have to assume that the security job is being done effectively, and they are safe to move about the country. And the thinking goes that if they're not safe, well then it's time some outcry is made and public attention brought upon the issue so that it will become a high priority to fix.

My discussion this morning was with someone who has been expressly involved in airport security at a federal level, and he said he could see both sides of that argument, but that when such attention is brought upon a weakness, not only is there some concern about terrorists using that information, but that public attention puts the leaders in a bind and can sometimes make it harder to react and make fixes. Do they end up spending more time grilled by panels on why those changes weren't made? Will the media attention focus too much on blame rather than proactive thinking about what solution is needed?

It's a challenging debate, and one that security faces very often. Email me with your thoughts on media attention to national security issues and I'll share your thinking with our readers. Of course, tell me if you want your comments to be anonymous.

Retail and LP Security News
Mark Doyle releases new LP statistics; Philippine mall targeted by bombers

Mark Doyle of Hayes International, the retail loss prevention research firm founded by Jack Hayes, has released 2006 LP numbers. Most notably, writes Doyle in a column for, "For just the second time in the past 9 years, the participating retailers reported both the apprehensions and recovery dollars from shoplifters and dishonest employees increased in 2006." If you work in retail or provide security services or electronic systems to retailers, take a look at his numbers, which were based on a sampling of large retailers.

Speaking of the retail industry, it's with a heavy heart that we report that a mall in the Philippines was the target of a blast, most likely set off by terrorists. It was reported that the attak has killed at least a half dozen persons, and injured dozens more.

Other Top Security News
S/O kills bank robber; Schneider completes Pelco acquisition; legislation updates, more

A security officer at a bank in the southern part of metro Atlanta was praised for killing a bank robber. Now comes the fun part: incident report paperwork... A bill that would have required retailers and the banking community to accept more of the responsibility on the protection of consumer financial information (credit and debit card info, primarily) was shot down by California Governor Schwarzenegger. ... The NBFAA reported that Ohio's representatives have approved a bill that would specify licensing requirements for security dealers/locksmiths/integrators. Now it moves to the Ohio Senate. ... Fire systems inspector Lt. Greg Hedrick of the Olive Branch, Miss., Fire Department, wrote in to tell fire and security dealers about what inspectors look for in final inspections. ... Schneider's acquisition of Pelco -- which had been previously announced -- was completed this week. ... And a test of a campus warning system at Virginia Tech underscored the difficulty emergency officials can have in letting everyone know "it's just a test!" ... Also, if you're dealing with video and storage issues, check out and register for our upcoming webinar on network video storage: Mastering the 3R's of video surveillance storage: Resolution, Retention and Reliability.

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