The security week that was: 02/12/10

TSA workers are going to be smarter

TSA employees will no longer be "working in the dark" when it comes to terrorist tactics. No, I'm not talking about switching to high-intensity halide light bulbs over the screening stations; I'm talking about "intelligence."

The agency announced today that it will be queuing 10,000 TSA airport workers -- managers, supervisors and behavior detection officers -- to receive classified intelligence information on terrorism threats and tactics. That represents about 20 percent of the TSA's total work force (which means TSA employs roughly 50,000 people if information source provider USA Today is correct in their math).

Of course, this kind of change doesn't happen overnight. Only 750 people have been cleared for the classified intelligence thus far, and with over 9,000 persons left, the TSA estimates that could take two years. The clearance will be "secret" level, (a clearance ranking between "confidential" and "top secret").

If I look at this on the sunny side, I think it could mean swifter dispersal of information on emerging and "live" terrorist threats, which is a good thing, of course, since signs point to a lack of information communication as the reason that the would-be terrorist on Christmas Day 2009 was almost successful.

But if I look at this on the dark side, I have to wonder why it took until 2010 for this initiative to take place. From the notes in the USA Today article, the TSA is billing this information sharing as primarily being focused on training. If that's the case, training clearances would have been beneficial at any point. The fact that TSA managers haven't been getting this information is really quite shocking, to be honest. I bet if you asked any regular-Joe U.S. citizen, they would have told you that they believed TSA managers were already getting classified, secret information on terrorists. Certainly this is probably a bureaucratic change for some employees in the list (from "confidential" to "secret"), but it does make me wonder: If TSA managers weren't getting this intelligence, who was?

Mass transit security
Inside the fight against terrorism for public transit

On the topic of transportation security, you might also be interested in our upcoming webinar on Feb. 25, 2010, with Former Chief of Police of the Maryland Transit Administration Douglas DeLeaver. One of the interesting things Doug is going to talk about is how he developed random sweeps at train stations. We're going to talk about why transit systems are wide open to threats and why they need to be prioritized in terms of our nation's approach to homeland security. We're also going to have a technology presentation/panel from our vendor sponsors, and that promises to be good stuff for you tech geeks who are more interested in surveillance cameras than you are in random sweeps. Go here to register.

Speaking of mass transit, two video surveillance companies announced big mass transit projects this week. March Networks is working with the Maryland Transit Administration (the same administration that our webinar speaker Doug formerly worked with) and Verint announced a project with Vancouver's transit authority, TransLink.

In other news
School shootings, gangs and social media, plus our newest blogger!

At a school in Knoxville, Tenn., a teacher shot two principals on Wednesday. The suspect has been captured and was known to have a history of workplace violence threats. ... New blogger Chris Hills (who comes from Microsoft's security department) joins the SIW fold this week and kicks off with a look at a silent security leak -- copiers. ... Also in the blogs, Joel Griffin looks at a cell phone detector. ... The PublicSafetyWatch blog tackles topics like road traffic cameras and how gangs are using social media. ... Industry icon Dr. Bob is no longer associated with Bosch (who thought that could happen?); he's now with NICE Systems. Dr. Bob formerly was responsible for Bosch's IP video surveillance products, which had a banner month in January according to a company statement. ... That's it for this Friday; enjoy your weekend and help us celebrate the contributions of our presidents this Monday on President's Day.