The Security Week That Was: A Recap - April 29-May 5, 2006

Ever since the Dubai Ports World deal (or Dubai fiasco, according to many), our congressional representatives have been up in arms about the potential that a "dirty bomb" could sneak through the supposedly wide-open doors of our ports and into the hands of a terrorist intent on attacking America.

Thus, they've been busy, especially with HR4954, the "SAFE Port Act", a bill which the House passed on Thursday. The SAFE Port Act, which at one point included an amendment that would have required almost 100 percent of cargo containers to be screened for potential nuclear threats, is primarily a funding and oversight bill for port security. Like most bills coming out of Congress, it isn't going to spell out technologies that have to be employed, but rather looks at the documentation and oversight that port security must face.

The 421-2 approval of the SAFE Port Act at least was noticed by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a group of executives from powerful retailers. That group said it applauded the SAFE Port Act's efforts to shore up supply chain security; the group had earlier come out strongly against mandatory cargo screening with what it called unproven technologies.

The bill still requires the ramping up of cargo screening, but does not make a mandatory push with technologies spelled out since the removal of the Markey amendment, which would have done just that.

While we're on the topic of ports, we tend to think of perimeter security as fencing topped with some barbed wire and long-range cameras, perhaps even with infrared capabilities. In Los Angeles, port perimeter security will soon include a 5,000-foot floating barricade (another 5,000-foot section will also be delivered to its sister port in Long Beach). The L.A. Port has been hardening itself with much gusto lately, and has budgeted for a new surveillance system, bought two patrol boats, and performed a feasibility study on a cargo container screening system. What's obvious when looking at a port like Los Angeles is that improvements in port security don't happen slowly because port officials are dragging their heels or are lacking motivation or not seeing the threats. It's the money, quite obviously. Ports that have the TSA grant moneys (like L.A.) are going to harden themselves rapidly, while the others are going to be dragged into the process because they aren't getting the funding.

Convergence ... in Events

Over in the world of alarm systems and equipment installations, Reed Exhibitions announced this week that it would be co-locating ISC East and its New York Infosecurity event at the Javits Center on Oct. 24 and 25, 2006. Scott Temple, the vice president for InfoSecurity New York, said that "while the marriage between physical and information security may be in its infant stages," the show's IT attendees will benefit from being able to see the rapidly developing physical security technologies that will soon converge upon their networks. Maybe it's also a place to find that network savvy tech guy you need for your integration or dealer company...

The merger of physical security and IT security isn't a new idea. SecureWorld Expo has been doing something rather similarly for IT and physical security end users for the last two years with its ST&D Convergence track.

Brink's Aims at Businesses

Brink's wants to take the name recognition that it has developed in the residential alarm system space and push that strength into commercial space. When the company announced its Q1 revenues earlier this week (revenues were quite strong at $663.6 million), the company also issued a notice that it had formed Brink's Business Security, a division which would handle all their business alarm system and monitoring accounts. The move is quite similar to what has already happened at ADT, which has made a strong name for itself in both its residential alarm monitoring and its business installation and integration services.

Where to Look for the Money

Versed in Asian languages? Ready to do some flying? Understand the world of securing airports? If so, sharpen up your resume and business pitch. There's new indication that the big growth for airport security may be coming from Asia, according to research from Frost & Sullivan. The research company reports that it is estimated that "China will construct 108 new airports in the next five years, for a total of 240 by 2010." The research company said the Chinese growth is being reflected elsewhere on the continent, with most airport construction in the area coming from new facilities, not simply upgrades of existing facilities. If your company knows airports, don't miss this opportunity.

Multi-Factor Authentication at the Bank

Citibank has recognized the benefit of a third identification element and, no, they're not looking at biometrics. The financial institution turned to a USB token for online banking authentication for its business clients. The tokens dynamically generate an additional passcode, which is used in conjunction with the user's username and password. By going to the token format, Citibank says it should be able to stymie the efforts of spyware and keyloggers.

Finally, our most read stories of the past week: