The Security Week That Was: A Recap - June 11-17, 2005

June 17, 2005
SIW Editor Geoff Kohl gives a weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession

There are quiet weeks in the security industry, and then there are ones like the last seven days.

On Monday, I headed to the Atlanta airport and made my way to Hollywood, Fla. (just outside Fort Lauderdale) for the GE Security Conference & Workshop. I attended a variety of sessions, including some excellent presentations on hospital security, HSPD-12/FIPS 201, homeland security grants. You can read our "Live from" report on Tuesday’s part of the show, which had presentations from GE Security's CEO Ken Boyda, Starbucks’ Francis D’Addario and others. Tom Ridge wrapped up the day as the keynote speaker, and Security Technology & Design’s Steve Lasky reported on Ridge’s candid assessment of America’s security. The conference wrapped up last night with a casino night, but before the fun began, Florida Governor Jeb Bush briefly visited the conference to discuss security priorities in his state. Of course, GE had already been in the news from earlier in the week when the company completed the acquisition of VisioWave.

While I was in Florida reporting on GE Infrastructure, Security’s main event, the world of security didn’t even hiccup (journalists aren’t that important).

The biggest news to our industry this week was probably the decision to push back the standards for the biometric passport. While this lack of progress isn’t particularly inspiring, it’s at least a fairly expected move. In between other countries balking at these e-passport requirements (it’s expensive to implement and requires a huge technology investment), and the fact that the HSPD-12/FIPS 201 initiative about unified federal physical and logical access control will ultimately set the standards for the passport that affiliated countries will want to use, you can start to see why delaying the biometric passport may not be a bad idea in terms of standards and effective interoperability. Still, we can’t neglect our borders, and the passport will need to be improved if we are to keep terrorists from using our borders like Swiss cheese.

On the topic of terrorism, hospital security directors and all citizens breathed a sigh of relief when the DHS announced that despite some media reports, the office had no specific terror threats against hospitals. In the related world of pharmacies, more states, including Michigan and Missouri, have created laws requiring additional security procedures and technologies for the securing of common cold medicines that could be used in meth production.

In speaking with security directors at the conference, people were searching for details on the Disney World death of the young boy. Early reports had people wondering if it was a ride failure that had caused the death, but reports are now saying that trauma was not involved. In tandem with this untimely death of a young citizen, risk mitigation executives and security/safety directors everywhere should be paying close attention to a decision yesterday from the California Supreme Court, which equated the liability at amusement parks and carnival rides with the liability standards applied to public transport systems.

In overseas security news, the interior and justice ministers portion of the G8 conference is moving smoothly along without any major security problems, and we hope this is a precursor to the full conference next month in Scotland. And while G8 meetings have quietly come and gone, UK tabloid paper The Sun managed to put the royal security detail on full alert once again when a tabloid muckraker snuck into a military academy to photograph Prince Harry. This security test even included the building of a fake bomb by the tabloid reporter. We were almost too embarrassed to post this story on SecurityInfoWatch, but we looked at it this way: Security assessments will either be conducted by your staff and your consultants, or they will be conducted by the bad guys. When a tabloid journalist does a "security assessment" at your facility as part of a simple attempt to get yet another paparazzi-style photograph, you got lucky because your security was tested for free and without the loss of life or knowledge or equipment. Wipe the egg off your face and remember that these assessments, no matter how embarrassing, may have just saved you from a future tragic incident. Use the information to grow stronger. As GE's CSO Frank Taylor noted in his Tuesday speech, security directors and system designers and integrators are not in the business of security, but in the business of information.

How did we get from Britain’s paparazzi to risk/security assessments? Quite simply, it's because our world of security has to be integrated: from the alarm system to the surveillance camera to the emergency operations plan to the security director to the IT security desk to human resources databases to law enforcement to the risk mitigation executive.

Finally, our top stories of the week: