The security week that was: 06/03/11 (Cyber threats)

Cyber matters

What's the biggest emerging threat to the American business community?

It won't be picked up by your intrusion sensors. It will come right through your high-grade fencing. Your video surveillance cameras won't register this intruder, and they don't need to steal an access control badge to gain entry.

The threat is cyber espionage and I would wager that it has become the number one topic for the State Department and companies like Google, Lockheed Martin and even Sony. If it was only attempts at stealing PlayStation user data, maybe I wouldn't be writing such an alarmist piece, but the reason news that Lockheed Martin was hit by hacking or that Google accounts of prominent U.S. government officials were breached make this an alarming situation.

It makes me think back to an interview I did with ASIS International President Ray O'Hara earlier this year. O'Hara told me this:

"Intellectual electronic assets are much more significant," O'Hara said. "One CD could have more property on it than you might have in a whole office years ago. And yesterday they would have had to steal the entire filing cabinet to get the same amount of information that is on a single CD today."

O'Hara was spot on target with this comment, and I think it underscores the change in our industry.

One of the old venerable journals of our industry, the now defunct Access Control & Security Systems magazine, I'm told began its days as a publication about fencing. That's what security was 30-plus years ago. Today, we're talking about network penetration. Magazines like Security Technology Executive (our sister publication) have columnists writing about IT security concerns in their issues – and not just because your cameras are connected via Ethernet instead of coax! They have guys like Kevin Beaver and John McCumber (one of the premier IT risk assessment and penetration testers in the business today) gracing their pages every month. The merger of IT and physical security has been discussed so many times that I bet half of you groan when I type the word "c-o-n-v-e-r-g-e-n-c-e", but you know that it's a real driver. Industry experts like O'Hara recognize that the security leader of today has to manage those kind of IT risks as well as the cameras, the cards, the gates, and the guards.

In other news
Smiths buys distributor, TSA upgrades privacy, Caught by a stolen cell phone

Smiths Detection is buying its Brazilian distributor. ... A man who is accused of stealing a number of cell phones from a cell phone retailer was arrested after police and the retailer were able use to phones' built-in tracking applications to locate him. ... Full-body scanners are receiving privacy upgrades following successful pilot project tests at major U.S. airports. The machines had been a source of complaints from civil liberties advocates.