The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Dec. 17-23, 2005

It's like clockwork. Once every other month, a new piece of legislation appears that promotes standards or oversights for chemical plant security. That's really no surprise. These facilities don't exist like some "Area 51", hidden out in the desert and protected by hundreds of miles of arid scrublands; more often, these facilities are in the industrial parks tucked into our cities and suburbs. The level of security at these facilities can cover a broad range, from the hardened plant that's well aware of the dangers of caustic chemicals stored on-site, to the plant which produces everyday chemicals and yet could still present a major threat to public health if attacked.

Senator (now Governor Elect) Jon Corzine has helped forge chemical plant security legislation that is mandatory for the state of New Jersey, and now a bipartisan bill has appeared in the U.S. Senate that seeks to create similar legislation at the national level. Americans as a whole have been typically shy of extreme amounts of government regulations and control, and it's no difference in the security sector, where many thought that this kind of legislation might mean that Congress could decide whether you can use a day/night camera instead of a thermal imaging camera.

In fact, what the legislation really suggests is that these facilities put together a comprehensive security plan (likely already done) and that it be made available for review by the DHS (likely something that most security directors would willingly agree to anyway), and that the DHS would have the power to shut down any facilities if their security plans do not meet some basic standards (something company owners might find to be a sticking point). This legislation, unlike so many earlier proposals that have fallen by the wayside, might just be the one that makes it all the way from bill to law. It now has the backing of the American Chemistry Council (even though that support is somewhat guarded and has contingencies), bipartisan support, and a public very aware of the weaknesses which our country faces.

Deals in the Making

Security systems dealers and integrators who are constantly tracking the partnerships among vendors/manufacturers may have noitced how niche product manufacturers are competing against the big multi-nationals by creating alliances with other niche companies.

Dedicated Micros (known for its CCTV solutions) and International Electronics Inc. (known for its access control offerings) are a perfect example of how manufacturers are cooperating to create competitive product lines. The two companies announced earlier this week that a technological cooperation had allowed Dedicated Micros video recording equipment to integrate with the IEI security/access control management platform. Our prediction is that we will see even more of these kinds of partnerships in 2006, especially as commercial security technology moves from trunk-slamming/out-of-the-box type systems to more customized, risk-appropriate designs, and as integration needs force smaller manufacturers to offer enterprise-type systems.

The Government Convergence Project

The world of HSPD-12 (also referred to by FIPS 201), a directive that requires united physical and logical access control for federal employees, made waves this week when the biometric standard was chosen. Minutiae won out; the system uses select data points that represent the defining marks of the fingerprint, as opposed to full image matching. On the same topic, the DOD, which has been working on the one-card system for some time now, has created a lab to test contactless cards for physical and logical security identification.

…Finally, we got this report in from the North Pole, where SIW's roving security correspondent indicates that there may be a new type of thief on the prowl for poorly secured homes and businesses:

Twas the Alarm Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a sensor was detecting anything, not even a mouse;

The PIRs were mounted in the corners with care,
In hopes they could catch a burglar who tried to come there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Knowing their CO monitors would keep the gas out of their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just programmed the keypad and settled down for a long winter's nap,

But in the midst of my slumber there arose such a clatter,
Decibels and strobes alerted me something was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
I disconnected the window positioner and threw up the sash.

My motion-activated floodlights shone on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Giving lustre of mid-day to the secured objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a getaway sleigh, and eight henchmen reindeer,

With a little old driver, dressed head-to-toe in black outfit,
I knew in a moment it must be the cat burglar St. Kit.

More rapid than infrared his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Smasher! now, Grabber! now, Pawned and Stolen!
On, Thiever! on Ransack! on, Snatcher and Hidden!

To the top of the porch! to the end of the hall!
Now grab away! Snatch away! Steal away all!"

As purse snatchers that before the town police fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, these henchmen mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top these brazen thieves flew,
With the getaway sleigh full of loot, and St. Kit too.

And then I heard them, sneaking around on my roof
The plotting and planning of each little hoof.

I was waiting for the monitoring station to call 'round,
But down the chimney St. Kit came with a bound.

He was dressed all in black spandex, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of stash bags he had flung on his back,
And he grinned as he thought about filling each sack.

His eyes -- how they slithered! his nimble legs so scary!
His hands snipped my phone cord, and he gave me a look with a tarry!

He was dark and mischievious, a right thorny old elf,
And I shuddered when I saw him, in spite of myself;

With a glint in his eye and a twist of his head,
He gave me to know I had everything to dread;

He spoke not a word, just went straight to his work,
And stole gifts and stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He kicked out the backdoor to the laundry, even stealing some clothes;

He sprang to the getaway sleigh, to the reindeer henchmen he gave whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

And I heard him exclaim, before he drove out of ear,
"Call your dealer for a better alarm system; I'll be back next year."

© 2005 and with thanks extended to "Twas the Night Before Christmas" author Clement Clarke Moore.

Happy Holidays to you and yours from!