The security week that was: 10/09/09

Learning about body bombs: Internal IEDs

This week I had the chance to interview Robert Daly, CTO of Brijot Imaging Systems about a recent attempt on the life of Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the head of Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism operations. What was interesting about this attempt is that the attacker had to go through airport style security before being granted access to the prince, but because the attacker had ingested the IED, the threat was not detected.

According to Daly, the only realistic way to spot IEDs hidden inside people's bodies is with X-ray machines, even a semi-transmissive X-ray machine. As Daly explains, however, "they are slow, difficult to use and require very specialized training." That leaves current technologies to be used, such as active and/or passive imaging solutions (this is the technology that Daly's employer Brijot produces). Such solutions can look for materials outside the body and would likely be able to spot "trigger devices" like the cell phone that the terrorist used to detonate the IED in his body. But being that a cell phone is not an illegal weapon, would this really stop such threats?

One thing is for certain, the story of the attack on this Saudi prince should raise the blood pressure of anyone in the State Department or involved in executive protection.

IP for alarm transmission
Join us for a webinar

On Wednesday, Oct. 14, we will host a webinar presented by Bosch's Tom Mechler and Stephen Kovacsiss. The program is going to address IP connections for alarm systems. Tom and Stephen will be looking at Voice over IP and how that affects alarm communications, but the main focus is going to be how you can go to commercial and institutional accounts and save them money by eliminating unnecessary POTS lines. We'll also get a look at Bosch's IP alarm communicator technology offerings in this area. Registration is free, and I invite you to sign up today.

Improving airport screening
EU commits to ending ban on liquids, but isn't clear on timeframe

One year ago, TSA's former chief Kip Hawley said that he expected the U.S. to lift the restrictions on liquids brought aboard by passengers. A year has passed and so has the timeframe that the then-chief of the TSA expected; Hawley had expected that liquid scanning technologies would be in place by now, but so far we're still at the 3-1-1 rule.

Now, EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani is also back-stepping on the allowance of liquids. Originally, the EU had committed to end the ban this coming April, but Tajani is saying that's not realistic because the machines won't be in place by then. He says the EU is still committed to putting the technology in place, but says "We don't yet have the equipment to replace manual screening." It's not clear if he means the EU has not purchased such technology, or if he means that current product offerings in this area don't yet meet expectations. If I had to venture a guess, I would say it's the latter reason -- that the technology just isn't fully reliable yet.

In other news:

An insurance company in Wales found that 80 percent of alarm system owners do not set their alarms; it's hard to criticize insurance companies which drop alarm system discounts after you read those kind of stats. ... Milestone Systems brought in a leader from Microsoft's Dynamics AX operations to head up product development. ... The NBFAA (now going by the ESA) is developing a wiki to look at technologies and to define best practices.