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Radford Uni. in the clear after shooting, lockdown

Friday, April 3, 2009

A fatal shooting near Radford University in Virginia caused the school to go into lockdown last night for about five hours, according to the Washington Post. While there are only preliminary reports about the incident, the article said that students were notified via e-mail, text message and voice mail to stay inside and lock their doors. And while all campus security directors hope never to have to use their mass notification system (as I'm assuming this is), it's always beneficial to know that the system is effective at spreading the word during an incident. I'm going to give it a few days before I give Radford a call to see how effective their notification system actually was at reaching out to students, but Radford University isn't far from Virginia Tech, so I'm sure students and staff are especially sensitive to this type of incident.


Portland Jetport gets some action

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's not very often we get some security excitement here in Maine, so I thought it was worthy of a quick blog entry. Today the Portland Jetport (and yes, that means only small planes fly in and out of the 11-gate terminal) had to be evacuated upon suspicion of an explosive device which was detected in a passenger's carry-on luggage.

As of the latest news report, I guess all is clear and it was just an "unidentifiable electronic device" but the Portland Bomb Squad (we have a bomb squad!) had to use a robot to remove the bag from the x-ray machine. And, they were planning to blow up the bag, but news reports say authorities were seen carrying the bag into a squad card, so I guess that means no fireworks.

Normally, I would grab the sdnTVnews camera and head out to the Jetport for some live reporting, but alas, the camera is in Vegas with the rest of the staff, so I can't bring you any live footage. However, in the spirit of Vegas, the three of us have some bets going about what we think this device actually is. Here's what we're thinking:

- vibrating neck pillow
- electric shaver
- Tickle Me Elmo
- iPod
- blender

I'll let you know after I watch the 6 o'clock local news (which is always a treat anyway).

I called it. According to a news report this morning, the "mysterious" electronic device that caused the evacuation and three-hour delay ended up being a "jumble of electronics", including an iPod. Wow, my reporter instincts are impressive. Here's another article about the incident, in case you're really intrigued. Oh, and the good news: The bag's owner wasn't arrested and was even allowed to catch his flight. My bet is he'll never pack his iPod quite the same way, though.

A look at ISC West, day 1

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It was an early day for me yesterday. First up, the Axis Communications media breakfast where the company went over its new product line-up and the benefits it offers from an installation standpoint. I'll be interviewing Fredrik Nilsson today for SDNtvNews so you'll be able to hear all the details straight from the horse's mouth.

The rest of my day:
*Was eager to hear Wal-Mart's Steve Lindsay's perspective on video analytics but he was a no show. Jumbi Edulbehram from Axis and Steve Russo from IBM were able to effectively cover the ground from the manufacturer and integrator perspective though.

*I had the chance to chat with Mack Brutsche, director of surveillance at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno. The casino recently completed a $75-million renovation that included an upgrade to its surveillance — it added DVTel's iSOC platform to manage the hundreds of cameras in has in place through the complex. Mack said the digital video helps the security and surveillance departments efficiently share video when necessary. The solution also enables him to authorize security, or other departments, to view only the camera feeds it needs to.
At the Global Gaming Expo two years back, there was some talk about security and surveillance being two very distinct and separate departments — Not true at Atlantis, Mack said. Rather, the partnership helps both be more efficient in combating fraud and thef, as well as controlling security incidents
It isn't often that I get to sit down with a security practitioner at ISC West so thanks to DVTel for the opportunity.

*I conducted three on camera interviews for SDNtvNews: Carolyn Ramsey and Eric Zei from Honeywell; Tony Byerly, COO (not CEO as I mistakenly told the camera three times before getting it right) of Stanely CSS; and Don Lyman with Tyco. Those videos will be posted on our web site today.

*Next up was a booth appointment at Xtralis (check out the new web site) with Mariann McDonagh. We had a great conversation about social media — I talked a lot about my tweeting experiment, which is going really well thus far. She is looking for ways to leverage these new mediums for marketing purposes but the question is, how do I craft my message and what will be most effective? I think many of us are still trying to figure that out.

*A colleague (don't know if I can really call him that) called my photo on Twitter, "sexy." Why is that even relevant? Unfortunately, that comment along with the appearance of Miss Hawaiian Tropic show sexism in this industry, although much better than is was five years ago, is still present.

*Met with Kevin Binnie and Frank Albano at back-up power Alpha Technologies. Their motto: No power, no security. It's kind of a no-brainer but it would never be something I would think of. What about you? What are you going to do if you lose power and your security system is rendered useless.

*Tyco reception was well attended as was Dedicated Micros' at Tao. I'm back to following my rules after not getting enough sleep on Tuesday night, but hey, two out of three (so far) ain't bad.


Mexican madness

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I start out every morning listening to Internet radio streams of the news (often WBUR, the NPR station out of Boston, just because). I'm always surprised at how many segments pique my security interest. One was a piece about the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's visit yesterday to San Diego’s Otay Mesa Port of Entry. While there she announced more than $20 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for Otay Mesa (and I'm pretty sure she's far too serious to recognize April Fools, so Otay Mesa can probably start planning to use that money).

Here's more about funds for border security from the DHS press release:
DHS and the General Services Administration will direct more than $400 million in ARRA funding to the Southwest border, including $269 million for port and other infrastructure projects in Otay Mesa, Antelope Wells, N.M., Los Ebanos, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Nogales, Arizona. $42 million will go toward Non-Intrusive Inspection Equipment (NIIE) at Southwest border ports of entry, including both low energy and large-scale systems—big enough to scan tractor-trailers. Secretary Napolitano also announced $50 million in SBInet funding to accelerate deployment of surveillance technology and associated command and control technologies in Arizona, including deployment in Nogales and Sonoita stations, and $50 million to pay for tactical communications modernization for the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley Sectors.

In general, I can't believe how many news reports I read about Mexico these days. I know Mexico is certainly a security threat, but it's been a security threat for years. I can't tell if things have truly gotten worse there or if the mainstream news media has once again jumped on the sensationalist bandwagon. It all started with that 60 Minutes piece by Anderson Cooper. Oh, that Anderson, he knows how to mix reporting with a healthy dose of sensationalism. Anyway, I guess what matters is that all this attention leads to continued efforts to secure our borders (and leads to more than just putting up a really, really big expensive fence).

The show must go on

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So things are pretty quiet here on the home front. Most of our team is out in Vegas soaking up all things security at ISC West. I've been gathering what I can from our editorial team based on Twitter, blog posts (here and here) and a few quick phone calls between events.

Rhianna said she was surprised at how many end users she had already met on day one of the event (which is largely educational sessions, the expo didn't open until today), which I think is a testament to ISC West's efforts to focus programming on end users. I mean, in the end, that's who everyone wants to see there, right? (And curious reporter-types too, of course).

And despite the fact that I'm slightly disappointed I couldn't attend this year's show, when I hear about the crazy schedule everyone is trying to keep, running from booth to booth (and trying to look calm and collected), taking notes and asking the right questions (often while on camera) as well as socializing after the show can be absolutely exhausting and suddenly the peace and quiet of the office doesn't seem so bad.

But things here aren't exactly breezy. There's multiple newswires to get out alone (which can be intimidating, by the way) and still lots of calls and stories to report. I just spoke to several ports who are finding ways to utilize their existing technology to achieve some of the TWIC regulations. And I expect more to come on that issue, especially since everyone likes to hold back their news until ISC West. So, by the time everyone gets back to the solace of Maine, we'll all be in the same boat trying to follow-up with everything that happened in Vegas. But isn't what happens in Vegas suppose to stay in Vegas?


Hey Vegas

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I arrived in Vegas yesterday expecting to take advantage of the warm weather and sunny skies. Well, someone forgot to tell Vegas. Although the sun was shining, the temperature was 45 degrees when I stepped off the plane in McCarran. The same as it was in Maine. Go figure ...

Anyway, today I'm off to a few educational sessions that I will provide Twitter updates on throughout the day. As I have mentioned before, I'm trying out this experiment again after failing miserably at ASIS in Atlanta. You can follow me here or you can follow everyone who is tweeting from the show at ISC Tweets. (Found courtesy of SSN editor Sam Pfeifle.)

I want everyone to know that I am following my own rules so far. I reinvigorated as I was in asleep by 9:30 pm last night (in my defense, I had been up since 3 am Eastern to catch my flight) and I alternated water with the two cocktails I had. I also did some sightseeing — The Canal Shoppes at the Venetian are a really beautiful site.

TSA gate screening, part deux

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just saw an update about the random gate screening measure. USA Today is reporting that the TSA said it began the new measures due to concerns that terrorists will smuggle weapon components through security and assemble them at the airport (or aboard a plane). Despite the fact that the TSA said in earlier reports that this initiative wasn't due to anything in particular, more screening will continue to be a deterrent to terrorists. I'll have to ask those on our staff who are headed out to Vegas for ISC West whether or not they witnessed any gate screening. I'd love to do my own reporting in this case, but, alas, somebody has to keep the ship floating.


An oldie, but a goodie

Friday, March 27, 2009

I wrote this post a while back but I love rereading it. It's all about navigating the halls of a large conference (such as next week's ISC West) with the least amount of physical and emotional pain. Sometimes I follow these suggestions and sometimes I don't, but I pledge to all of you that I will abide by the rules while in Vegas ... maybe. Anyway, enjoy:

For the past two days, I’ve been looking at my schedule and panicking more than a little bit. I always have good intentions to not book continuous back-to-back meetings, but once again I have. Figures … If you meet with me at 4 p.m. one day and my eyes are glazing over, I greatly apologize.

So, with regrets in mind I give you my recommendations on how to work the (ISC West) show this week. Otherwise titled, how I would ideally plan my conference if I weren’t an idiot.

*Plan accordingly. Do not overbooked yourself — you are not doing anyone any favors. If you squeeze in that extra 20-minute appointment instead of having lunch, for example, you are not going to be in the mindset to focus on business and you’re going to hate the people who talked you into this mess.

*Network and have fun, just not too much fun. A colleague of mine once eloquently said, “There is nothing worse than walking a trade show floor with a hangover.” Having experienced this first-hand, I wholeheartedly agree. Alternate cocktails with a glass of water, enjoy in moderation and we’ll all be much happier in the morning.

*Reinvigorate. Take 20 minutes out of your day to get outside. The sun will help energize you. Florescent lights? Not so much. Also, try to get some kind of ‘normal’ sleep in. Whether that is nine hours or 40 minutes, you know what you need. Don’t ignore it.

*Walk the floor. I never have a chance to walk the floor because I am running around taking meetings with exhibitors that want to show off their latest and greatest wares. But if you take some time to walk the floor, you’ll probably see some new vendors that have some pretty cool offerings. Even Axis had to start somewhere.

*Attend as many educational sessions as possible. You're here, why not? Additional education is always a good idea. This year's session topics are interesting and the speakers are top-notch. Take the time out to hear just one, I promise it’s worth it if only to get off the exhibit floor.

*Sightsee. This is another thing I rarely do and I always regret it. When my hairdresser asks me what was cool about a city, I want to be able to answer him without saying something about the hotel. Also, I can’t tell you how uninteresting photos that are taken from the window of your hotel room are. My family and friends certainly know. Get out and see some sites — what good is traveling without taking in one local attraction? Come on, it's Vegas.

*Take it slow. Sure you may be five minutes late for an appointment, but you’re not the only one. Take your time with meetings, walking, lunch, etc. and you’ll find yourself much happier and relaxed in the long run.

*Stop by booth #1129 to pick up your latest issue of Security Director News and watch some SDNtvNews interviews occurring. Heckle if you wish.

*Be there: Treasure Island bar on Thursday, April 2 at 10 p.m.

Siemens, a webinar and ISC West, oh my

Thursday, March 26, 2009

There are a few things I need to address today — let's get them out of the way here.

*First up, Siemens announced today that it hired Sam Docknevich, who previously led IBM's physical security division, as national account manager for 4 zones. He will report directly to Carey Boethel, Siemens security division business head. I'm hoping to talk with Sam about the switch soon but from my viewpoint, this brings a heck of a lot of IT expertise into Siemens. I wonder how this affects IBM?

*For those of you who didn't attend (or didn't hear) last week's webinar on HD video, it is now on demand. Click here to register and enjoy.

*I'm becoming a bit of a social media nut in an effort to build SDN's brand. All of you who are on Twitter who are not yet following me, please do. I am eager to tweet with all the security tweeps out there. You can also find me on LinkedIn.

*Finally, if you made it to the bottom of this post then you are eligible to hear about our super secret (Well, not so secret but we're only promoting it through our blogs, video and Twitter) informal SDN/SSN gathering at the Treasure Island bar (the one in the center of the casino) at ISC West. We'll be there at 10 p.m. on Thursday, April 2 — a good way to end the day in my opinion.

*Also, if you find yourself in Vegas, drop by our booth (#1129) and pick up a copy of the latest issue and chat with us about what you like about the pub, website and SDNtvNews and maybe, what you don't. We'll be filming SDNtvNews interviews at the booth as well. Want your 30 seconds of fame?

*Lastly, I'll be speaking on the Meet the Press panel on a second day at ISC West — April 2 at noon. Other industry editors and I will talk about what we look for in a story, how we designate certain items as newsworthy and who our favorite clothing designers are. OK, not the last one ... unless someone asks me that is.


TSA known shippers might not be so known

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I hate to always be down on the Transportation Security Administration, but this article just popped into my inbox about a report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General revealing that the TSA's known shipper program doesn't provide the security intended. The gist of the program is that airlines will only accept cargo from "known" and verified shippers, however, this report, reveals that the

TSA does not sufficiently define the ways a carrier may verify a known shipper, nor can it validate entries in a database of known shippers.

In addition, the article states that the verification process has been delayed by technical problems and "unresolved policy questions."

The inspector general’s office recommended that TSA provide more guidance to carriers verifying known shippers, and to inspectors who validate compliance with the program.

My TSA source, Ann Davis, has told me that it's this known shipper program (along with the Certified Cargo Screening Facility program, which may be the same thing?) that has allowed the TSA to undertake such an enormous screening task. If there are questions regarding the integrity of the verification process, I would imagine this could prove to be a major hurtle for the TSA and could even start impacting the shipping process. I wonder how much airlines make by shipping cargo on passenger aircraft, and if the cost of trying to comply with screening mandates could soon outweigh the revenue benefits? Just putting that out there.

Anyway, here's where you can find the whole report for your viewing pleasure: