The security week that was: 01/14/11 (How security has changed)

A weekly surveillance of the news shaping your profession


ASIS President Ray O'Hara on the changing world of security

Ray O'Hara, CPP, recently assumed the presidency of ASIS International, a global security organization chiefly representing corporate and organizational security managers, as well as guard services providers. We'll be sharing a spotlight on O'Hara next week, but the quick summary of his career is the following: Los Angeles Police Department supervising detective, corporate security management for GTE (telecom industry), corporate security management for Weyerhauser (paper industry), and then management at Pinkerton, then Securitas, then Vance, which became Garda, which is now part of Andrews International. Along the way, he's handled some pretty high-profile security projects, from standard corporate security all the way to special assignments for the Olympics. With that history and depth of experience, I asked ASIS Presdient O'Hara recently if anything really has changed in his career, or if the problems are still the same. Here's what he said:

"It's significantly different. Yesterday we operated with fences, gates, guards and cameras. We were worried about people taking minor items out of the workplace. The fences, guards and gates are not as important these days for many businesses. The assets are electronic, they are built on and live on the Internet. The facility environment today is more open; employees want to come and go with their electronic access card; they don't want to be stopped by a fence or a gate. Today, they want a card in their hand and the ability to be there.

"Intellectual electronic assets are much more significant. 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.

"A [digital asset/data] theft happens today, and tomorrow it [that information] is on the six o'clock news. In the electronic age that we live in, there are not many secrets out there anymore that cannot be hacked or found. The things we have in place for protection must change tonight. These hackers [who have fed Wikileaks] were able to disrupt an amazing amount of our government in a short amount of time. WikiLeaks is a wake-up call. This has been going on for a period of time all over the world; it just has become more public than ever before."

Will Giffords' shooting drive changes?
More questions than answers created as experts analyze incident

The shootings at a political rally on Jan. 8 near Tuscon that injured Congresswoman Giffords and another 13 persons and which killed six persons, are a wake-up call to the state of politics today, and that may mean big changes in store for securing our government's leaders. As a nation, I think we have always had pride that our politicians are our representatives, and as such, they walk among the people as a fellow citizen. But this level of violence can't be ignored, and there are questions which we must now ask:

We will be looking at trying to find that balance of security and openness in our security of politicians, so how far do we go in either direction? Do we create a barrier between our politicians and our fellow citizens? Do we keep the status quo and try to see this event as an anomaly (which it is, statistically speaking)? Will we find "copy cat" attacks on other congressional representatives, much as we have seen with "copy cat" attacks following school shootings? Can we ever protect against the first person shooter? How much security can we afford for a politician's standard visit with constituents? What level of undercover/plain-clothes security is appropriate in a political crowd and what effect would that have on free speech? How do we preserve a politician's right to move freely? Do shootings like this deter good, honest people from entering politics?

SIW spoke with experts to answer some of these questions. Read what they had to say in our article: "Giffords shooting raises security questions".

This content continues onto the next page...