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Big acquisition news

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Well, I can't tell you the news now (sorry to be a tease), but check out our home page after 5 p.m. this evening to find out who will be announcing that it is now "the largest privately-held, American-owned security service provider of uniformed security, consulting and investigations and personal protection services in the United States."

The training game

Friday, May 29, 2009

I just watched this video from a local TV station that focuses on hotel security. It offers the standard advice for travelers, such as always be aware and do not give out personal information, but what is interesting is how different employees at hotels behave when confronted with a guest asking for a new room key.

We've all heard it before: Security is everyone's business. When was the last time you trained your front desk staff on verifying guest ID? I am always losing room keys so I'm familiar with the process. When I requested a replacement key at the Fairmont in Dallas, no ID was checked before a new key card was issued, while the team at The Venetian/ Palazzo in Vegas refused to talk to me without a valid ID.

It all depends on the property, but it really shouldn't. Talk to your front desk staff and make sure they know they play an important role in keeping guests and other employees safe. Isn't it worth it?

Reminder: Submit 20 Under 40 nominations by June 5

Friday, May 29, 2009

I think the headline says it all but here is a reminder to submit 20 Under 40 nominations by June 5. Really, the sooner the better in my opinion but ...

Here are the details:
Who will be the leaders of the security industry in 2020? 2040? They are likely among us today and we need your help identifying them.

Security Director News is currently calling for nominations for its second annual "20 under 40" list, a feature that recognizes the security industry's current and future leaders.

Who are the young, talented employees who will step up to tomorrow's senior level security positions? Who are the young, talented individuals who are already at the industry's forefront?

Please complete the survey below to nominate a security practitioner (end users only) who was born in the year 1969 or later and who displays excellent leadership qualities, technical know-how, business sense and a commitment to the security industry. It is not necessary for the individual to have any specific title or responsibility with a company.

Here is the survey

The Nomination period ends June 5, 2009.

Any questions? E-mail


UCI gun scare is a good lesson

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The University of California, Irvine experienced a scare last week when a student reported seeing a man dressed in camouflage carrying what appeared to be a rifle near campus. According to this article, after security sent a mass notification message out to the student body, several other students confirmed seeing a person matching that description and carrying a gun.

As it turns out, the man was carrying a paintball rifle and headed out to the range to shoot with some friends, which, in this post-Virginia Tech time, is really pretty stupid. Frankly, I'm not familiar enough with guns to know the difference and if I saw someone walking around in camo carrying a gun I'd get real freaked out, too.

The university didn't go into lock down or issue an evacuation, but did ask students and staff to stay inside. And while this fortunately turned out to be a false alarm, I think there was more than enough reason for the university to take these steps. After all, better safe than sorry. Plus, it never hurts to test these emergency notification systems.

International security efforts made permanent

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good to be back after the extended holiday weekend. I picked up this press release from the Department of Homeland Security about the signing of an agreement between the United States and Canada to make permanent a joint law enforcement team along the international maritime border.

The team, called Shiprider, utilizes vessels, manpower and resources from the Royal Canadian Mount Police and U.S. Coast Guard. Shiprider will "combat smuggling, organized drug crime, gun trade and other criminal activity in shared waterways," said Peter Van Loan, Canadian Minister of Public Safety, in the release.

I'll admit, I don't love the name. 'Shiprider' makes me think of the Sea Shepherds, an organization that goes around saving whales (which apparently has a new show called Whale Wars, by the way), and I feel like there needs to be some lengthy acronym to make this partnership sound more official. But, of course, the concept of a unified international security force to protect our borders is a critical component to our national security (and international security overall). And while this partnership isn't a new one, a formal agreement between the two nations is a step in the right direction. Next up: Mexico.

Make hay while the sun shines

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We're having some incredible weather here in Maine (it's suppose to reach 90 degrees today, which is pretty much as hot as it gets here, even in the height of summer) and because my company values quality of life, our CEO has decided the office will be closed on Friday due to nice weather. Take that Fortune Magazine!

But because of the (extra) long weekend, I want to make sure to leave you with some extra security material to get you through all that family time.

According to an article in USA Today, the TSA is considering pulling the plug on the 'puffer machines' at airports. Apparently, they aren't reliable in airport environments. If you're unfamiliar with this technology, basically it shoots (or 'puffs') air on passengers to dislodge particles and then sucks those particles back in to determine if there are any explosive materials. Again, I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing this technology at any airports, but apparently 94 were installed in 37 airports around the country. The TSA purchased a total of 207 puffers for $30 million in 2004 (the 113 not in airports have been in storage). Since their installation, USA Today reports that the TSA has spent $6.2 million on maintenance and says that dirt and humidity are the cause of the breakdowns. The TSA has already removed 60 machines and will pull the rest, but at $160,000 each, that's a fairly big boo-boo.

On a more local note, there's been some fairly big security news in Portland, Maine. A school resource officer at our largest high school here was doing his morning rounds when he spotted a man in a car across the street loading a 7 mm Remington rifle. Apparently the man was planning to shoot some folks at his AA meeting in the basement of a nearby church and was not planning to enter the school, but the school resource officer approached him, told him to put the gun down and called the police. My colleague, Dan Gelinas, who works at our sister publication, Security Systems News, had a good point that this crime wouldn't have been prevented had the school simply had cameras in place. When I talk to security professionals in educational settings, that is the one thing they emphasize: There's no replacing people. Whether it's to detect suspicious behavior like in this example, or to simply establish a positive authoritative relationship with students, people are a very important element in school security.

And, on that light, positive security note, I hope you all enjoy the long weekend and the official start to the summer.

Data on the loose

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well, I'd hate to be the person charged with investigating this breach.

The National Archives lost a computer hard drive containing massive amounts of sensitive data from the Clinton administration, including Social Security numbers, addresses, and Secret Service and White House operating procedures, congressional officials said Tuesday. The drive is missing from the Archives facility in College Park, Md., a Washington suburb. The drive was lost between October 2008 and March 2009 and contained 1 terabyte of data — enough material to fill millions of books.

The aide, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, said the hard drive was left on a shelf and unused for an uncertain period of time. When the employee tried to resume work, the hard drive was missing.

Issa called for the Archives acting director, Adrienne Thomas, to appear before a committee panel Thursday to "explain how such an outrageous breach of security happened."

"This egregious breach raises significant questions regarding the effectiveness of the security protocols that are in place at the National Archives and Records Administration," he said.

Issa said the hard drive was moved from a "secure" storage area to a workspace while it was in use. The inspector general explained that at least 100 badge-holders had access to the area where the hard drive was left unsecured.

Wow. Nearly 1 TB of data lost somewhere in a six-month period and about 100 badge-holders had access to the 'unsecure' area where the hard drive was stored. I'm the first to admit that my office isn't the most clean but you can bet I'd notice if a hard drive was missing. A power cord, not so much.

I wonder if this is a case of lost and found?

Airport security gone wild

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There has been increased criticism recently about the TSA's use of whole-body imaging machines that take, what critics call, a "naked" picture of air travelers. This isn't a new issue (I've blogged about it before) and there has been legislation introduced to try to ban it, but CNN reports in its cover article today that a national campaign has been launched demanding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suspend use of the machines. The campaign is being led by a privacy advocate group called, Privacy Coalition, CNN reported.

Millimeter wave technology was first introduced at an airport in Phoenix, Ariz. in November 2007 and there are now 40 machines (at a cost $170,000 each) being tested and used in 19 airports, according to the article.

I guess I haven't been flying through the right airports, because I haven't had the 'pleasure' of trying out one of these machines. However, during Rhianna's tour of the Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, she got a behind-the-scenes tour and saw for herself what the image actually looks like. Rhianna's no prude, but she admitted that it pretty much reveals everything (as in, you can definitely determine if someone is male or female), but the one thing you can't really see is the person's face. Personally, knowing that it's difficult to identify a person by their face makes me feel a little better about the technology, but I doubt that's enough evidence to make everyone feel better about baring it all in the name of security.

20 Under 40 nominations

Monday, May 18, 2009

Happy Monday to everyone. Today is the first day we are accepting nominations for this year's 20 Under 40. The deadline for submissions is June 5, 2009. Time is short so tell us now why your colleague or peer should be included in our second annual list of the top 20 up-and-coming security practitioners.

Nominations can be submitted here.

The revealing of a not-so secret move

Friday, May 15, 2009

Many insiders in the retail industry were buzzing about this news after last week's RILA conference and now here's the official release:

Retail Loss Prevention Expert Paul Jones Joins eBay Inc. as Global Director of Retail Partnerships

Washington, D.C. - eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:eBay) today announced that Paul Jones, former vice president of asset protection at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), has joined eBay as global director of retail partnerships. Jones will work with eBay's team of more than 2000 Trust and Safety professionals to bolster eBay's ongoing efforts to prevent the sale of stolen goods through vigilance and strategic partnerships with law enforcement and retailers.

"I look forward to working with eBay's outstanding team," said Jones, who will add his decade of experience managing loss prevention efforts for RILA, as well as such keystone retailers as Limited Brands and Sunglass Hut International to eBay's team of former law enforcement and retail professionals. "eBay has demonstrated real leadership with its robust work to confront challenges related to retail theft and the sale of stolen goods. It is clear to me that eBay is committed to working with both retailers and law enforcement to address this issue head on."

As Vice President of asset protection at RILA, Jones developed strategies for the associations' hundreds of member companies and worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation to address emerging issues. Prior to his work with RILA, Jones managed loss prevention strategy at Limited Brands, recognized as one of the top five Loss Prevention Departments in the world, as well as Sunglass Hut International, where Jones was responsible for loss prevention efforts across the company's 3,400 stores. Jones is the current vice chairman of the Loss Prevention Foundation, president of the Loss Prevention Magazine Editorial Board and his successful efforts have been featured on ABC's Good Morning America, Fox News and in the Harvard Business Review.

Leaders from the retail industry who have worked with Jones also praised this addition to eBay's team. King Rogers, the former vice president of assets protection at Target Corporation, said, "The move of Paul Jones from RILA to eBay is the best news for both the retail industry and for eBay I have heard in the last eighteen months. I applaud eBay for its wisdom in taking this dramatic step forward. My respect for Paul has grown even greater for having the courage to tackle this challenge. And my counsel to the retail community is to now embrace this initiative, refrain from just being critical and work closely with Paul to ensure success for retailers and for eBay."
Tod Cohen, vice president and deputy general counsel for government relations of eBay Inc. said, "We are excited to welcome Paul to our team and know he will bolster eBay's existing efforts to combat the sale of stolen goods, including our special PROACT investigative unit dedicated to working directly with retail loss prevention personnel to investigate case referrals. His experience and deep roots in this field will further strengthen our anti-fraud capabilities while enhancing our valued relationships with retail and law enforcement partners."