The Security Week That Was: A Recap - March 11-17, 2006

It's March Madness, for sure. Not only are teams starting to fall like flies in the NCAA tourney, but here in the world of electronic and physical security, most of the top manufacturers are gearing up for ISC West with a little March Madness themselves.

We're starting to see a number of new product launches being announced in these weeks before the show. Just today, Canon announced two new IP cameras, and Vicon is on the move with its KTX-4, a video server that converts up to four analog inputs into network video. Even though the show hasn't even started, we're already well aware that the heavy hitters at this year's show are going to be showcasing full product lines of network video. While many manufacturers had only limited IP product offerings in the past, they have been busy in the R&D labs, and now it seems that everyone and their brother has a complete set of cameras offering impressive zoom features (whether optical or digital), Power over Ethernet options (they're looking out for dealers and installers and focusing on how to keep the installations fast and neat) and multiple compression streams. Two-way audio is a hot feature with many of the newest cameras, allowing the monitoring station to get not only a video capture of what's happening in a particular space, but also to pick up audio to confirm a break-in, even if a suspect has moved slightly out of the camera's field of view.

We're posting more and more of these new product announcements as product manufacturers deliver them in these busy weeks before ISC West, and we invite you to follow along with these new products via a dedicated page we've built for the show: www.securityinfowatch.com/iscwest.

Back on the B-ball side of March Madness, there has been a great deal of concern over the security of our universities' sports arenas. Despite the early mention of a threat to the NCAA tourney, the FBI reported that the threat was not material, but summarily stepped up security for these facilities.

That increase in stadium security was no where better indicated than when the San Diego State University arena was emptied for over an hour after a bomb-sniffing dog located a suspicious package. The kicker? The suspicious package was at an arena hot dog stand. You do the math... No, it wasn't a pack of all-beef Kosher dogs, but a metal container used at the concession stand. A bomb team was pulled in and it was decided the box was not a threat, thus allowing fans to attend the following game between Alabama and Marquette. Alabama's Jean Felix was the real bomb of the game, delivering 31 points for the Crimson Tide in a 90-85 victory.

Ports and Portals

The fall-out over the Dubai Ports World proposed control of operations at a half dozen U.S. ports is still in motion. On Tuesday, two House Republicans from California -- Rep. Dan Lundgren and Rep. Jane Harman -- introduced new legislation designed to tighten security at U.S. ports. The bill would not only look at a timeline for radiation portal monitoring and standard operating procedures for cargo container examinations, but would also create a port security grant program.

This happened almost simultaneously as it was learned that Charleston, S.C.'s port security task force, a.k.a., Project Seahawk, was in danger of losing funding. Project Seahawk has been a model for a number of port security changes, and has used technologies not only to track ship movements in the waters near the port, but also has presented a model of the coordination for port security, by involving Federal, DHS, state and local authorities in the project's "unified command."

Home Alone?

Corporate security tends to end when employees swipe their ID card to leave a facility, walk through a camera-watched parking lot and drive off the facility premises. Vance Global, which offers a number of protective services, released a memo advocating tips for home security for company executives that is designed to counter the increasing trend of attacks and protests at executives' homes rather than at their places of business. Check out those executive home security tips here.

Judges don't want to be home alone either. There's a new proposal from many of America's federal judges to have government-paid home security -- especially in light of the attack on U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's family which left her husband and mother dead.

Denied!

Everyone involved in today's IP-based systems take note: Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are increasing. So said Internet security company Symantec in its latest threat report. Especially as these attacks become more frequent, the need to keep an IP-based security system up and running become all the more essential. DoS attacks can temporarily stop data transmission over your networks (such as between the cameras and the recording servers or the networked monitoring stations, or between an IP-based card reader and the access control software), and that means bad news for your security's continuity. The increase in DoS attacks may be reason enough to sell your clients on a standalone IP system, rather than sharing the business network.

In Response

Finally, I want to address a topic of contention in our industry. About a week ago I praised a substantial amount of funding to build a very secure perimeter system around some of the New York area airports. One figure in our industry published his own column suggesting that the price tag was too high, comparing it to an almost video-only based system that was being installed for a similarly sized perimeter at a significantly lesser cost.

Not only do I contend that the New York project offers greater technology integration and duplicated defenses for these airports' perimeters (and thus earns its higher cost), but the funding also has to be measured on a level of risk. We know that airports are targets for terrorism; we know the enormous costs of a terror event like the 9/11 attacks; we know that NYC is a top target, and we know the levels that terrorists will go to circumvent our security processes. If we could do it over again, and were able to spend $100 million to prevent the Sept. 11th attacks, do you think we would? I rest my case.

Finally, a look at the hot stories of the week on SecurityInfoWatch.com:

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