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Do you work here? Really do you?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Not only is AIG's CEO busy (as well as its lawyers I would assume) but the corporate security staff is probably taking a beating right now. A friend of mine works next door to one of the AIG offices and she said the protesters were numerous as were the news reporters and TV vans. Well, this is an example of what happens when you take your cake and eat it too.

Back to security, an article on CBNC's web site is reporting that AIG's corporate security department is advising employees to take measures "to increase their overall safety and security" due to "a growing sense of public attention fueled by increased media scrutiny."

OK, a growing sense of public attention? Let's be honest. The public is pissed off (myself included. I get a lousy $15 tax break and these guys get millions for running their company into the ground and possibly taking down the entire U.S. financial system?!?!) and its not due to increased public scrutiny. It's because the company screwed the American public over.

But I digress. The memo from corporate security advises employees to "avoid wearing any AIG apparel with the company insignia" and hide their AIG ID badges when entering the office. They have also been encouraged to "avoid public conversations involving AIG," keep an eye out for suspicious individuals and advised to avoid propping doors open to reduce piggybacking.

Good move on the part of the security department — security is everyone's responsibility as we all know. Too bad senior leadership didn't make these kind of smart decisions before handing out $165 million in taxpayer money to the executive team that helped make it the successful organization it is today.

Inspecting the inspectors

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More news in my inbox today concerning the TSA's ability to meet cargo screening deadlines. A report issued by the Government Accountability Office stated that the TSA may having a hard time getting voluntary participation in its Certified Cargo Screening Program, which has the potential to largely reduce the amount of cargo the TSA has to screen on site. The report also indicated that the TSA has yet to approve effective screening technologies that could help make the screening process more efficient and that the lack of security inspectors to oversee and enforce inspections is contributing to the shortcomings (see our April edition for a full story about this issue, including comments from TSA officials).

Similarly, an article from Bloomberg said that two specific carriers, Delta and American, will have a hard time meeting the screening mandates. According to the paper, Delta is the largest carrier of cargo among U.S. passenger airlines after merging with Northwest Airlines last year, followed by American.

And, after all that, the GAO's testimony in front of the House Transportation Security Subcommittee yesterday, revealed that it's pretty much impossible to verify what percentage of cargo is actually being screened anyway. Yeah, I would say it's tough to not only ensure that there are enough inspectors inspecting, but to also have to inspect the inspectors inspections makes my head hurt.

Executive sweep

Thursday, March 19, 2009

There has been a lot of executive changes over the past six months: Frank Abram left Sanyo for Vitek; George West departed Siemens; Dennis Moriarity said goodbye to Diebold; and now Scott Schafer has left Pelco behind and moved into the executive vice president of sales and marketing role for Arecont Vision.

I wonder who's next?


TSA expands screening procedures

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another interesting security story from USA Today about increased security measures in airports. The paper reports that according to a government memo, airport security officials are randomly selecting passengers at the boarding gate for yet another round of security checks.

A spokesperson for the TSA said this additional screening is an effort to mix up tactics and make it harder for terrorists to monitor how security works. This also seems in line with the TSA's efforts to focus on behavioral profiling. I would think a terrorist would be on high alert during the official screening process, but may let down his or her guard while waiting for and boarding the plane. I think it's a good initiative by the TSA to let people know that security is always present.


Public profiles

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So, with Facebook's new home page comes the ability to make your profile public. Now, if you so choose, everyone on Facebook can see what you're up to, how many photos you have of your dog and how many late-night bar hopping runs you've been on that have been memorialized by your friend's rabid photography skills (OK, maybe that's just some people).

A lot of those social media mavens on Twitter are applauding this. I have to admit I'm on the fence. I suppose it would be good for professional means — such as having a Facebook site for SDN — but isn't that what LinkedIn is for? Maybe a celebrity or someone in the public eye might benefit from having a public profile? But who else? Someone trying to sell something, perhaps?

I have been thinking about this because I wrote my April editorial on the how the security industry is starting to embrace online social media sites. Personally, I think LinkedIn is great for professional use, Facebook fits the bill for my personal life and Twitter is mostly professional but sometimes I throw some of my personal opinions is as well.

But I just can't imagine making my personal profile on Facebook public — that leaves my information open to a heck of a lot of people. Can I say it's a bit of a security risk? I don't want some stranger to know what network I am in, where I work and what my dog looks like. And if I had a 12-year-old daughter, I wouldn't want her to have a public profile either for obvious reasons.

I'm going to be giving Facebook a call to see what their thoughts are on this but what about you? Is the capability to have a public profile a plus or a minus?

Where to?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Leischen and I have been talking about ISC West this morning. The educational program looks pretty good this year — lots of sessions focused on ports, schools and law enforcement — and I'll be attending many of them on Tuesday.

ISC West has traditionally been tagged a dealer or integrator show, but they are marketing more and more to the end user (Check out the Public Safety & Security Expo).

But so many of you are faced with travel restrictions this year (aren't we all?) and have to pick and choose which face-to-face events you can attend. So, what are you selecting this year? Vertical focused shows, regional events, ISC West, ASIS? I'd be really interested to hear what your plans are. Leave your comment in the form below.

Also, if you are going to be at ISC, we're cooking up some fun on Thursday night. E-mail me at for details.

And the winner is ...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Amid the dreary weather and news day (school shooting in Germany, man kills 10 in Alabama shooting rampage), I was happy to see feel-good award news come into my inbox.

The ASIS Foundation awarded the 2009 Roy Bordes Award for Physical Security to the Central Pennsylvania ASIS chapter. Established in 2008, this annual award covers the costs for one ASIS chapter to receive a two-day, locally delivered, customized physical security program.

The foundation's BOD established the Roy Bordes Award for Physical Security to recognize Roy's commitment to ASIS and the security profession. As many of you know, Bordes died in 2008, after a career of more than 30 years in the security industry. He was a pleasure to be around and I'm sure he is still missed.

Another reason not to go to church

Monday, March 9, 2009

The fatal shooting of a pastor yesterday at a church in Illinois was not only alarming and tragic, but also a reminder that security has a place everywhere. To be honest, I had never really thought about churches needing a security plan. When I think of crime in churches I think of petty theft (keep your hand out of the offering plate!) or perhaps the occasional domestic-type incident, but shootings? An article from CNN discusses some of the security measures churches should have in place. Here's some excerpts:

"The church is really behind the secular world in terms of planning," said Jeff Hawkins, the executive director of the Christian Security Network.

... It's essential that a church must balance having a security presence while still keeping a house of worship open to everyone. "Some churches choose armed guards, some have a much more subtle security presence where you wouldn't even know it's there."

A church should have five security plans in place to deal with evacuation, long-term shelter, medical emergencies, lost or missing children and violent confrontations, he said.

"Every church is different so you need something that is going to work for that particular church's culture and size," he said. "And I think now, especially after September 11, people want to feel secure. They want to know if they bring their family somewhere, it's going to be a safe environment.

I also wondered, who's in charge of putting these plans together? I'm pretty sure most churches don't have CSO on the executive board.

Buyer beware

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good news (somewhat) out of Florida. Authorities have shut down an organized crime ring that they say was stealing about $50,000 worth of baby formula EACH WEEK from six Central Florida counties.

Yes, that is a lot of formula. Here's the article from the St. Petersburg Times.

Choice paragraph:
Participants in the group would shoplift powdered baby formula, replace the labels to extend the expiration dates and take the formula to North Carolina, where it was resold.

It is extremely disturbing that retailers in this Florida area were being hit pretty hard by this ring, but that is almost minimal when compared to the potential health risk. Not only were they replacing labels, but I would bet big money that they did not keep these products at the ideal temperature or storage conditions — Gross. This is just a doctor's visit waiting to happen.

The worst part is that there is a market for discounted baby formula, especially in this down economy. People are struggling to make ends meet and find work (check this out). I fear that ORC is going to continue to grow because if things don't get better, market demand is going to increase, exponentially.

DHS gets its research on

Saturday, March 7, 2009

DHS just announced this afternoon the establishment of two new Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs): the Homeland Security Studies & Analysis Institute (HSSAI) and the Homeland Security Systems Engineering & Development Institute (HSSEDI).

“The award of these two contracts will take the department one step closer to Secretary Napolitano’s goal of creating ‘one DHS,’ by providing a superb research resource for the entire department,” said Bradley Buswell, Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the statement.

Here's more from the release:
The HSSAI, will be operated by Analytic Services based in Arlington, Va., to provide mission-focused homeland security analysis and expertise focusing on program objectives, system requirements, and metrics. Analytic Services is a not-for-profit public service institute that provides objective studies and analyses of the national security, homeland security, and public safety communities. The contract will be for one year with up to four extension options for a total estimated cost of up to $269 million.

The HSSEDI, to be operated by MITRE Corporation, will provide advice on concept evolution, development integration, best practices in lifecycle systems engineering and management, and program-level technical and integration expertise across the homeland security enterprise. HSSEDI will focus on “how” DHS can reach its objectives. The MITRE Corporation is a not-for-profit organization chartered to work in the public interest with expertise in systems engineering, information technology, operational concepts, and enterprise modernization. The contract will be for one year with up to four extension options for a total estimated cost of up to $443 million.

Not really sure what this means for the security industry exactly. Will these two research centers provide more comprehensive information about security issues? Will they contribute to product innovation? I don't know. Any thoughts?