The security week that was: 04/17/09

TWIC update: Strong signs of life

For those of you who don't know him, Hirsch's Rob Zivney is very active in SIA and is very keen on government security programs, including HSPD-12 and TWIC. We caught up this week to discuss the April 15, 2009, TWIC deadline. This was to be the deadline which said that workers needed to have a TWIC card in their possession if they wanted unescorted access to their worksites. Well, for the most part, the workers did get their cards (at a cost of more than $132 each), but some ports were given extensions until May 13, 2009, to meet the requirements of this week's deadline. There was also an extension for workers who had yet to receive their cards, but who had applied for them; apparently there have been inadvertent slow-downs in the issuance process (which is subcontracted).

The real shame in all this is that the card is currently just a "flash pass" to get in the gates. For all the promise of high technology, we're at a point where the cards are being issued, but the technology, hardware and specifications to take advantage of signed certificates, biometrics and encryption just aren't there yet. According to Zivney, the TSA, Coast Guard and ports are still on target to pilot test these technologies, and he points out that a flash pass is better than nothing at all. The challenge, according to Zivney, is that the TWIC program brings in so many different interests and has to balance needs like limiting access, but not slowing down the trucks coming and going from ports. Expect SIW to publish more details on the nuances of TWIC next week.

Hirsch, SCM get merger approval
Contactless smart cards, scrambler pads, government business partnerships

Speaking of Hirsch...Although we had written about this previously, we received final word that the shareholders of SCM Microsystems had voted overwhelmingly to approve the merger with Hirsch Electronics. Being that most of us are in physical security and thus know the Hirsch name (which was the originator of the scramble-pad PIN pad so many years ago, which is still popular for PIN-based access control at some government agencies), you may want to dig into SCM a bit. The company is known for contactless smartcard solutions, and they have everything from dual readers for healthcare information to USB flash memory drives with built-in contactless smart card technology to even some physical security contactless readers that would be used for government types of access projects. Our thoughts: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts in this merger.

ONVIF keeps moving
New specs in process, products with spec expected

PSIA seemed to get all the buzz at ISC West, but ONVIF has quietly been gaining steam, picking up new members like Canon, Samsung, Cisco and others in the last two months. The group has formed new working groups to get specs processed, and is expecting to release updated versions of its specifications soon. But the big news is that Axis, Bosch and Sony are said to be committed to introducing products that use the ONVIF spec sometime this year. I think a lot of people are surprised at how quickly PSIA and ONVIF are each moving along.

In other news
Bosch fire strategy, Biometrics company integrates, $2M camera system

Bosch's fire systems unit product marketing manager Charles Davis shared insights into Bosch's fire systems business strategy. ... South Carolina firm Integrated Biometrics has tied in with DSX and Kaba Mas for partnerships which link fingerprint biometrics with access control and locking. ... Wilkes-Barre, Penn., is getting a $2 million camera system, and TAC has been selected for the installation work. ... The Loss Prevention Foundation has named new committee members. ... STE Managing Editor Paul Rothman publishes a roundtable discussing security system retrofits.