The security week that was: 08/27/10 (Security maintenance)

A weekly surveillance of the news shaping your profession


Can we be more embarrassed?

You do your homework. You figure out what security technology is needed. Maybe it's some cameras and a good alarm system with high-tech sensors. You get the budget. You get the bids. You install the system. You're stuff is protected. You forget about it.

"Forgetting about it" is a big problem I hear about in security systems these days. Once organizations have a working security system, they tend to forget about it. But over time, problems appear. Zones can be turned off while making panel changes. Alarm panels report communications errors which are ignored by either the security staff or (gasp!) the monitoring company. Cameras fail and DVRs need reboots. Tapes run out of space. Cameras don't record, but maybe you don't know that because you still see video on the monitor, so you never know that you're not getting anything to the hard drive. Maybe you didn't budget for maintenance, or maybe your service provider's maintenance agreement wasn't worth the paper it was written upon. But whatever the reason, the danger lies in wait.

If you have that incident you've always dreaded, and your alarm system doesn't signal or your cameras don't record, you end up in the news, just like the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo. At that museum, apparently none of the alarms and only 7 of 43 surveillance cameras were working when a van Gogh painting was stolen.

[Incidentally, while discussing the use of mass notification technologies in yesterday's webinar, University of Mary Washington Director of Emergency Management & Safety Ruth Lovelace made the point that we need to consider maintenance and service on all systems  (an archived version of that webinar will be available after 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27 in our webinar archives). We've since published an article summary of the mass notification webinar in case you just want to hit the highlights.]

More service from the alarm system
"No show" alerts triggered by arm/disarm function

Alarm.com announced this week that it is rolling out "no show" alerts to its alarm customers. The service, which is free, works like this: If your child is expected to get home from school every day by 4 p.m. and the alarm system hasn't been disarmed by that time by your child, you can get an email or text message to let you know that the child is a "no show." Or maybe you're a business owner who expects the first workers to be in the shop by 8:30 a.m. If the alarm system hasn't been disabled by then, clearly your workers aren't making it on time and opening the business promptly. It's one more way that an alarm system can become a valuable tool.

More on the BlackBerry encryption fight
Sept. 1 deadline looms for BlackBerry to cave in to the demands of India!

This was the subject of last week's column, and here's and an update: India wants Research in Motion (RIM) to cave in on the governments demands for access to the BlackBerry phones' encrypted communications, or they plan to ban some services on Sept. 1. RIM is sticking to its guns, and is politely trying to form an industry forum. The goal of the forum is to prevent the "misuse of strong encryption technologies while preserving its many societal benefits in India." Why is this so important? The main communications that India wants unencrypted access to are the enterprise services – the very tools that businesses use. That's why this story is so important for any corporate CISO/CSO to follow!

In other news:
Free VMS, IP access control, Identifying workplace violence before it happens

Milestone introduced a free VMS for up to 8 cameras; unlike most free VMS offerings, it's not just designed to work with one specific brand of cameras. IMS Research shared some thoughts on what this could mean for IP video in the small-project/low-end part of the market. … John Byrnes writes in about how we can identify signs of emerging aggression before a violent event occurs in the workplace. … Megapixel and HD video is going explode, according to researchers who think half of the IP video market will be HD/megapixel by 2014. … HID is getting into the secure printing business. … Register today for Sept. 9's webinar on IP-based access control.