The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2006

Sept. 1, 2006
SIW Editor Geoff Kohl gives a weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession

Two years ago, thieves brazenly attacked the Munch Museum in Oslo. They hit the Museum wearing masks and made off with two of Munch's most famous paintings, "The Scream" and "Madonna."

They didn't attack during the night, using stealth and cat-like skills - like popular movies have dramatized of fictional museum thefts. Instead, they forced their way in, heavily armed, grabbed the art and left in a waiting car. For two years, the theft was still the buzz of art curators and museum security professionals. Yesterday afternoon, Norwegian authorities announced that those two paintings have been recovered and, while slightly damaged, were in repairable condition.

The theft, as many security professionals have noted, took advantage of a weakness in security. Up until that point, it wasn't much thought that art thieves would strike in full daylight as armed robbers. Previous robberies, like the record theft from Boston's Gardner museum, saw the thieves clearly focused on deception and knowledge of security systems. They posed as Boston police officers, came at night, struck when the museum was almost emptied of staff, and were able to silence an alarm.

While it's hard to second-guess any security system's preparedness, the Munch thefts shed light on how we look at security. Are we focusing all our monies on technologies while overlooking the open door in the middle of the day? Are we skilled in intrusion technologies while ill prepared for domestic violence episodes that injure employees? Are we focused on shoplifting while internal theft goes unnoticed? The Munch theft is a reminder that security systems aren't a buy-install-done system. Businesses change. Risks change. As a security director or as someone selling and installing security systems, you have to be ready to ask your clients and yourself whether it's time for a new assessment.

As an added note, has the pleasure of publishing an interview with Tim Giles, the security director for the Atlanta-based Woodruff Arts Center, which includes the High Museum. A portion of Giles' interview was published in the August 2006 issue of Security Technology & Design, and even more of his interview appears here.

Big biometrics power play
Completion of Identix-Viisage merger means more than just market share, it reflects growth drivers

It wouldn't be a week that was without some sort of consolidation in the industry. This week, the obvious story is that Identix and Viisage have completed their merger. Here's why we should pay attention: 1) Biometrics isn't sideshow technology, especially as major initiatives like HSPD-12/FIPS 201 and the TSA's Registered Traveler program make fingerprint biometrics standard issue...literally. 2) The merger, along with a few other companies thrown into the mix of the new company (L-1, named after Robert LaPenta - formerly of L-3) makes a company in the industry that can deliver a wide variety of algorithms and technology for not just fingerprints, but also facial recognition and iris recognition.

Secondly, we published a story out of England in which a healthcare provider adopted biometrics to protect patient data. While biometrics has clearly gained respectability in identification usages for employee and traveler access control as well as inmate identification, its strongest growth area for integrators may just be in the realm of logical access control.

In other news:

A news report indicates that discarded cell phones and mobile devices could be a security weak link for your company. ... ASIS continues to be one of North America's fastest growing tradeshows (have you booked your flight yet?). ... Homeland Security Capital Corporation bought SecurityInc., an RFID/access control company. ... Tri-Ed continued to expand with a new branch in New Jersey near Philadelphia. ... and proving that our industry will always be cutting edge, researchers in Colorado have created a new detection system that will be able to detect the introduction of non-standard chemicals into our water, helping to close the "elephant in the room" of water utilities.

Finally, our most read stories of the week: