Subscribe to


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:


Newswire leftovers

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I wanted to put this on today's newswire but it came into my inbox a few minutes too late to be included in the blast. So, you get the news here instead.

ASIS International today released its second American National Standard titled "Organizational resilience: Security, preparedness and continuity management systems — Requirements with guidance for use." (Now, that's a title ...)

The association says the standard "provides a comprehensive management framework to anticipate, prevent if possible, and prepare for and respond to a disruptive incident. It focuses on resilience — the adaptive capacity of an organization in a complex and changing environment — as well as protection of critical assets."

That's a mouthful but here is what it boils down to: Organizational resilience is all about multiple departments, including security, working together to build a proactive approach to managing risks that is tailored to a specific business sector.

I think the concept of organizational resilience wouldn't be as critical as it is know seen if it were not for the rise of the security professional within the ranks of a business. Remember the days when security leaders had little or no interaction with senior executives? Those days are long gone, thankfully, and with this new power comes more responsibility, such as developing an organizational resilience program.

On that note, I am working on a special report for our May issue on the evolution of the security director. If you are interested in throwing your two cents in about this topic, vote in our newspoll or e-mail me at —Rhianna Daniels

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.