The security week that was: 02/01/08

Feb. 1, 2008
A weekly surveillance of the news shaping your profession

Converging a NW integrator
ASG is a security integrator and a VAR; yeah, they're serious about convergence

I think it's pretty significant that ASG (Aaronson Security Group) has purchased Selectron (another integrator in the northwest U.S.), a move that made them the largest independent security systems integrator in the Northwest U.S. However, I think it's even more notable what they did in the creation of a "Converged Security Services" business unit.

Convergence has been given a lot of hype, but for so many security providers, convergence has just meant hooking up a camera to an Ethernet port or linking the access control with the cameras. OK, that's convergence at some level (see my old blog post where I try to define convergence), but ASG goes about 10 levels further up the food chain with what they're doing. They have actually created a group that can do true IT security (they hired an IT security consultant to head it) in the form of things like computer patches, network access control, etc., but they can also offer full-service physical security, which is the stuff ASG has always been known for. According to Robert Flynn, COO for the Selectron, it's about recognizing that top customers no longer see a distinction between those IT and physical security areas. He says customers often want centralized outsourcing for risk management and security. Could this be the new breed of "integrators"? For the right companies who have the right type of clients (read that as savvy national clients), we think so.

Rebranding Securitas Systems
How to pronounce "Niscayah", and why the change had to be made

So, I received a few notes from people in our industry after we published the news that Securitas Systems is starting the process to change its name to Niscayah. One of the first questions is "How do you pronounce that?" Well, I was at Securitas' U.S. HQ two days ago, so I think I can answer some of these questions…

How do you pronounced Niscayah? First syllable – "Nis", rhymes with the "sis" in sister; second syllable "-cay-" sounds like the first syllable in "kayak". The "-yah" sounds like the last syllable in papaya. Where does it come from? Sanskrit says Carol Enman (dir., business development) and Martin Guay (U.S. COO). They credit Sanskrit as the origin of many languages, and they said that the company wanted a new name to distinguish itself from all of the other Securitas entities in the world. Finding a new name (Niscayah means "secure" or "reliable" in Sanskrit) is tougher than you think, said Guay, who noted that it's become increasingly difficult to find a word that doesn't already have some connotations or might be used already for marketing purposes somewhere in the world.

Guay added that one of the big challenges the company had with the name Securitas Systems is that people would confuse it with former sister companies. If a cash-handling operation of Securitas in Europe gets hit with a theft of $100 million from an armored truck, Guay says he would get calls from his clients (unrelated totally to the cash-handling business) wondering why his security wasn't better. Similarly, the company's logo (though unique) still used the characteristic "three dots" that also implies Securitas' guard services business. If you're still confused, remember that Securitas Systems is an integrator and doesn't provide guards; that's the other company's business.

Ah, the challenges of being a global firm. We wish Niscayah all the best of luck in this forthcoming rebranding process.

Kip Hawley goes blogging
TSA's "Evolution of Security" sounds more like marketing evolution

Can you blog your way over the wall that separates security from convenience? The TSA seems to think so, but the American people seem to think not.

The TSA has recently launched a blog (see article for link to blog) designed to allow the back and forth between air security enforcers and air travel security users (all of our fellow citizens). I call it a marketing ploy, and if you ask me, this blog really isn't much of a blog at all, as much as it's just an online complaint tool. Case in point: At last count, some 50 comments had been received solely on the topic of "Did you have to take your shoes off in Ohio but not Colorado?" We can complain all we want about security inconsistencies, and I think it's good that a security agency accepts feedback. However, with over 700 comments (most are complaints) received in the first two days, I predict that they'll be numbed to the comments within the week.

Some excerpted blog comments to bide your time:
- "I've been asked to take off my Flip Flops. Please explain what I could possibly hide in those."
- "Any qualified chemist must have had an attack of hysterics at the idea of someone manufacturing triacetone triperoxide (TATP) while on a commercial plane!"
-"Excellent idea, providing you actually make use of this blog as something other than a propaganda organ."
-"If our nation & government can trust me to carry the President's vehicles, fly monthly into hostile territories and keep classified information to myself... do you think I can STOP getting secondary screening?"
-"The San Francisco private group finds 80% more fake bombs and such upon screening than almost ANY of the other cities w/ public run TSA Orgs."

OK, I'm out of space, so if you want more news on what happened this week in security, you can go to our SecurityInfoWatch homepage. Before you go, take a look at the most read stories of the week: