The security week that was: 07/15/11 (The graffiti hose)

The graffiti hose

There are some people who always have interesting things to say, and as a journalist writing about security, I'm always looking for those people. One of the people who falls in that camp is Bob Hayes, who heads up the Security Executive Council.

Bob was meeting with STE's Editor/Publisher Steve Lasky and myself yesterday and we were talking about the difference between a security product and a security solution, and about the difference between a decent solution and an elegant solution. In a nutshell, a camera is a security product. A security solution, on the other hand, is often a mix of products and services that solves a specific security problem. If that camera and DVR solve a problem, then it becomes a solution, and that leads to our next part of the story.

Bob brought up the story of a school that was dealing with a graffiti problem. Vandals were tagging the sides of the school building, and the school officials and police were frustrated. A law enforcement leader put out the call for a video surveillance system that would automatically detect the application of graffiti so that the city could send police and use the recorded video to attempt to identify culprits. It was a solution, a very high-tech futuristic solution, and there certainly are companies that could try to create this solution. [In fact, it's not a video system, but the Merlin Graffiti Detector from Potter Signal uses an audio sensor that can recognize the "pshht" sound that an aerosol can makes, and that unit can be set up with I/Os to trigger cameras, turn on lights, send an alarm signal, or do whatever you can think of with an I/O trigger.]

So, that video analytics idea of the "graffiti camera" was a pretty good solution concept, Bob told us, but he also told us of a high school executive who mentioned her own solution to this problem. She asked, had they ever tried to use the "graffiti hose"? I immediately thought Bob was talking about the removal of graffiti, since you can sometimes blast off graffiti with a high PSI pressure washer (which works pretty well, as evidenced in this video, "Removing Graffiti with a Pressure Washer.") But Bob said, no, she wasn't talking about a hose for a pressure washer to blast off the taggers work.

What this school official had done was install a fairly basic outdoor motion detector common in security systems that was then connected to a hose. The hose was mounted up on the wall of the school. When a vandal entered the area, the motion detector turned on the water and the hose misted the side of the building, wetting the brick so that the paint wouldn't stick. The solution prevented the crime, rather than simply calling for crime response. And best of all, the school official was proud that this was a "green" solution, because it helped water the landscaping.

I don't know that there's a "graffiti hose" solution to every security issue your organization will face, but I think Bob's story sheds light on the out-of-box thinking that can make you a security hero!

As a final note, pressure washing can also be used to create "reverse graffiti". Not sure what I'm talking about? Go here to read up on this very cool urban improvement project.

Security camera installation hall of shame
Don't get caught

I published a few pictures I took of a security project installation I visited this week. Mostly, the problem was sloppy cabling work. Take a look at the blog post and share your own tips for running IP cabling to network video surveillance cameras.

In other news
Pentagon hacked, TSA under fire, more

In a continuing trend of large cyber security breaches, the Pentagon disclosed that 24,000 files were stolen earlier this year from a defense industry computer network. Defense officials say they believe a foreign government was behind the intrusion, but they didn't elaborate on which country that might have been or what information was taken. ... The hacking group Anonymous this week released 90,000 e-mail logins it obtained via a breach of U.S. military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. ... A Republican congressman has called the security of U.S. airports into question noting that there have been more than 25,000 reported security breaches at airports across the nation since November 2001. The Transportation Security Administration said that the 25,000 figure was misleading as it also counts checked bags misplaced after going through a screening, as well as persons that were caught breaching security in the act. ... The TSA is also moving forward with its plans for a "trusted traveler" program as the agency has announced it will test the program on a small group of select air travelers beginning this fall. ... Check out SIW's interview with incoming Physical Security Interoperability Alliance Chairman Larry Lien and Vice Chairman Marine Drive to learn more about what the future holds for the standards organization.