The Security Week That Was: A Recap - April 22-28, 2006

"The more I broke into houses, the more I had to do it," says former Charlotte burglar Anthony Ferguson. "It's like potato chips. You can't eat just one. That's how I survived. That's how I ate. That's how I got money to have a place to sleep."

Ferguson, considered Charlotte's most prolific home burglar (he's now in jail), opened up to media this week in interviews where he shared his burglary tips.

Of most relevance for our residential alarm dealer installers was Ferguson's bold claim that homes with alarms were his target. "I basically don't hit houses that ain't got alarms," said Ferguson. "The houses that got the alarms, you know, 'Hey, there's something there.'"

While Ferguson's claim seems perhaps a tad boastful, statistics indicated that burglar alarms still are an obvious deterrent to most thieves -- it's the time-honored method of picking the low-hanging fruit. But Ferguson did share some interesting points that you can use on your home assessments and in your sales meetings. He noted that most homes that have alarm systems did not arm the second floor. He also noted that a common installation mistake is to put the alarm control touchpads in places where they are visible to thieves, and who can therefore determine if the system is armed or not. He shares more tips that your installers and sales staff can learn from in the full article.

Technology Moves of the Week

Walk-through iris recognition: That's the goal of a technology partnership between Sarnoff Corporation and Honeywell, which unveiled iris recognition technology at GovSec this week that claims to capture iris at a distance as people are moving at a walking pace. While the technology isn't foolproof yet (it's set up for people of height 5'3" to 6'3"), it does overcome some of the through-put problems of iris recognition where users previously would have to stand still, close to the camera, and remove glasses or contacts. Sarnoff trumpeted the technology as appropriate for airport security needs.

Lenel dropped a bombshell on the GovSec audience with its IdentityDefender system for complete management of FIPS 201 card issuance. The system, a software platform, creates a standardized workflow process that ensures that not only are the cards and the data secure, but that the process is controlled in such a way that the right employee gets the right card, all while meeting FIPS 201.

Also this week at GovSec, Seenex Corporation unveiled the UNIVERS 3T, a revolving security door with three sectors and a built-in metal detector. The door allows for a concealed sliding door which can close automatically if a metal object is detected. The technology, like GVI Security's Rapor door (GVI CEO Steve Walin discussed the RAPOR technology in March 2006 with, is designed to solve issues of through-put and minimize the needs of staffed guards at entry points.

And while it didn't happen at GovSec, Bosch earns a quick nod this week for its installer-friendly Dinion and Unity camera systems. The pre-configured cameras are already loaded with a lens, pre-wired through the cameras base with 5 feet of cabling, and are back-focus adjusted at the factory. It's hardly a mind-blowing technological improvement, but the somewhat simple move reflects at least one manufacturer's consideration for the time constraints that today's installing dealer companies face.

How's That for Motivation?

A former Alarm One employee is suing the company for $1.2 million in damages after being publicly spanked in front of her co-workers. The lawsuit, which is in court this week, stems from a 2004 "camaraderie-building" session in which sales teams were pitted against each other. According to court documents, sales members were paddled with competing companies yard signs, and even saw the winning teams throw pies at the non-winners. The documents also allege that during the motivation exercise, the losers were fed baby food and made to wear diapers. Alarm One, which ceased the practice that same year, said the program was fully voluntary and was only used as a light-hearted sales encouragement program.

Top Level Shake-up

Central station monitoring company Integrated Alarm is seeing a shake-up at the executive level. The Albany-based company, which has been plagued by falling revenues, will see its two top executives -- Timothy McGinn, chairman and CEO, and Thomas Few Sr., president and vice chairman -- leave the company in May. It may help the company avert its own sale; at least one of Integrated Alarm's investment companies has been calling for the company to put itself on the block.

On the Lighter Side of Things

Andrews Air Force base kicked out all the stops in the search for a perimeter security breach on Thursday morning. Helicopters were put in the air and a full K-9 unit was dispatched in the search for the intruder. Who were they looking for? An Al Qaeda operative bent on attacking Air Force One? A North Korean spy looking for military secrets? Not so fast... This time the culprit seems to have been some sort of large cat -- a bobcat or wildcat, most likely. As of Friday morning, the search for the big meow had yet to bear fruit... or cat litter.

Not as Easy as You'd Think

That's the attitude from many maritime shipping leaders on the topic of automated identification systems (AIS) for maritime vessels. The industry, which has been largely in favor of vessel identification and tracking (there are obvious benefits other than security for these companies) say that there were problems with data set-up and improper installation when the tracking systems were rushed to market. There's also the problem in that many threats do not come from identified vessels, but from smaller vessels like the one that attacked the U.S.S. Cole in the Aden harbor in 2000. Nonetheless, the technology has improved, as have installations, and the Maritime AIS is growing in usage.

Finally, a look at our top read stories of the past week: