The security week that was: 01/28/11 (airports as soft targets)

Moscow airport bombing

Less than three days after a terrorist exploded a suitcase bomb at Moscow's international airport, killing a reported 31 persons, I received an email from a company that claimed to have the solution and which was ready to make money selling it. They could, the email said, put in a weapons detection portal so that anyone coming into an airport would be screened for bombs, guns and the like.

I give them credit for having that technology, but I'm not sure how effective it would be. It might create a secure side of the public area, and the model does pattern after the "concentric rings of security" approach touted in security textbooks. But it also creates a new target -- the queues of people waiting to enter an airport's outer doors. It also adds a layer of security many would perceive as even more onerous, and if implemented, an air traveler would have to go through two security checkpoints: 1) the outer checkpoint that admits persons to the public areas of the airport and 2) the inner checkpoint (the TSA checkpoint) through which only air travelers and employees may pass.

The reality is that there will always be soft targets, whether it's the public side of an airport or the food court at a shopping mall. Certainly terrorists have historically worked to disrupt air travel, so perhaps there is a higher priority to protect the soft-target aspects of airports, but if anything, the Moscow incident demonstrates that you must always be considering how threat vectors will change.

Goodbye, yellow threat level
DHS finally decides its future lies beyond the yellow brick road

Are you a little nostalgic like I am now that the DHS is discontinuing its rainbow-like, color-coded threat level system? It was the system we loved to critique, possibly because it seemed indefinitely stuck on the same colors. Day in and day out, it read:

"The national threat level is Elevated, or Yellow. For all domestic and international flights, the U.S. threat level is High, or Orange."

The Department of Homeland Security recognized the difficulty in trying to summarize overall threats with a single color, and it thus has announced the National Terrorism Advisory System. Rather than simply moving levels and colors based on undisclosed threats, Secretary Napolitano says the goal is to provide clear, distilled information about the threat. "When a credible threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell you and provide whatever information we can so that you know how to keep yourselves, your families and your communities safe," Napolitano said.

Healthcare security training
February webinar presented jointly by IAHSS and SIW will be offering a webinar next month especially geared for healthcare security practitioners. The webinar, "Workplace Violence in the Healthcare Industry" is co-presented by SIW and the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS). The webinar, which is offered for free, will feature a presentation from Bryan Warren, Director of Corporate Security for Carolinas Healthcare System. The live date of the program is Feb. 24, 2011, at 1 p.m. ET. Go here to register for this online seminar.

In other news...
Schools and guns, Economy picks up steam, Big cities see promise in CCTV

Los Angeles authorities say a police officer who claimed he was shot by someone as he patrolled near a San Fernando Valley high school last week was lying. The fabricated account led to a major school systems lockdown. ... A 5-year-old pre-kindergarten student in Florida was reportedly found to be in possession of a loaded handgun. ... Two students in Pennsylvania have been charged with assault after they reportedly attacked a school security officer who was trying to break up a fight between the two on a bus. ... An Associated Press survey found that employers intend to hire more workers this year, even though unemployment is expected to remain at nearly 9 percent by year’s end. ... City officials in Houston and Washington, D.C. are looking to expand their surveillance capabilities. For additional information on municipal video surveillance, attend the Secured Cities 2011 conference, May 10-11 in Atlanta, Ga.