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A personal matter

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This is a reminder to all you last minute shoppers that Christmas, if you celebrate it, is only a week and one day away. I am still struggling with what to buy my mom. If anyone has any ideas, please comment below. It would be neat to be able to tell her that the loyal readers of this blog helped me pick out her gift. (Obviously, she doesn't read this often, or ever for that matter.)

On a much more relevant note, last week we had the pleasure of meeting with Randy Nichols, Bowdoin College's director of safety and security. We made the 15-minute trip from our offices to talk about museum security. The 1,700 student college recently opened a stunning new museum.

If you ever make it up to Brunswick, Maine, you should stop by — I recommend you do so in the summer by the way. The museum has some beautiful, and unique, collections on display including a giant blow-up Buddha. See?

I was really impressed with Randy's approach to security and safety. Not only does he meet with each new freshman each year, but he also can be found wandering across campus on weekend nights making sure everything is running smoothly. He also asks students to call him Randy so that they feel comfortable coming to him in case there is a problem.

This 'personal approach' is refreshing in an age when technology is becoming a larger part of security programs. I get so frustrated when a vendor tells me their latest and greatest technology can replace security personnel. Sure, technology can augment an officer's capabilities, but it can never replace this human aspect. And in today's environment, the personal approach is becoming more and more important.


What to expect in 2009

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Control Risks released its annual report on risks companies can expect to face in the new year. It's no surprise that 2009 is going to be a tough one: The economy sucks, a new president is good news but can also be challenging and Control Risks is forecasting that there is a global spike in kidnapping for ransom.

The report also notes that the volatile financial markets will have varying effects depending on "both a country's exposure and its government's response." Adam Strangfield, Control Risks' research director, noted that "emerging markets as well as more mature economies are not immune."

RiskMap 2009's research said kidnap for ransom has mainly been associated with Latin America in the past but now stories are emerging "from the swamps of the Niger delta, the turbulent cities of Iraq and the ships on the Gulf of Aden."

Overall, not a very positive forecast for 2009. Happy new year.

Calling all readers

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I never thought I would say this but I have become a bit of a social networking junkie. Maybe junkie is a bit of a stretch considering I still pledged to stay far away from Facebook and MySpace ... but I am a big LinkedIn supporter and to that note, last week we launched the Security Director News Reader Network. I've designed this to be a networking group for readers of SDN and I'm hoping it will serve as a place to foster discussions on the critical topics that security leaders face today.

Like my Twitter experiment, it's a work in progress but I'm interested to see where it goes.


When hypocrisy catches up

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm not a big fan of perpetuating the media's obsession with scandal, however it's not very often a fairly high ranking security official gets busted for illegal activities. Lorraine Henderson, the Boston Area Port Security Director, was charged on Friday with harboring an illegal alien because she employed a Brazilian woman as her housekeeper. And it wasn't like Henderson didn't know the woman was an illegal immigrant. Authorities allegedly wiretapped the housekeeper and caught Henderson on tape saying:

“You have to be careful ’cause they will deport you. Be careful.”

I mean, it is true, except the ironic part is that Henderson was the one actually in charge of deporting her. Henderson faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if she is convicted.

So long, farewell

Monday, December 8, 2008

We got the news yesterday that George West, who has led Siemens Building Technologies security division for the last two years (or so), is moving on to bigger things. Word is he is leaving Siemens to head up an environmental company in Boston (don't have the name yet, but should in the next week).

Sounds like a pretty good move for George but I'm definitely sad to see him go. He's always made time to chat with us here about trends and news in the market (surprisingly not a lot of senior executives do). We wish him well in this new endeavor.

The art of profiling

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai have really got me thinking about the Muslim community and, frankly, how little I know about it. I spoke with Offer Baruch of International Shield for some insight into the specifics of the attacks, but a large part of the interview (and something I wasn't able to elaborate too much in the article) was about the importance of law enforcement and the public sector reaching out the the Muslim community, in a positive way.

Basically Baruch said that many in the Muslim community don't feel an obligation to report suspicious activities to authorities because there's is no pre-established relationship or connection to "authorities." (And he was also quick to point out that this problem is by no means exclusive to the Muslim community and pertains to members of other groups.) His point was that authorities need to reach out to these communities to "bridge the obligation." The other problem, I'm assuming, is that people are scared they'll get caught ratting out their neighbors to the authorities, bring undo attention to themselves either by the authorities or by members of the community, and basically fear for their general safety. I sort of scoffed at this the other day until I went to a party and heard one drunk guy talking about how his "buddy" sells guns (illegally, I'm sure, but didn't ask questions) and, frankly, he seemed like a shady enough character that I'm not telling anyone (except you guys of course) because frankly, I'm a single girl living by myself. Now I understand.

Anyway, to curtail that story, this morning I read an article out of Detroit about the Justice Department revising its administrative guidelines for how the FBI can investigate individuals.

"The new Justice Department guidelines will allow FBI agents, for the first time in terrorism-related cases, to use undercover sources to gather information in preliminary probes, interview people without identifying who they are and spy on suspects without first getting clear evidence of wrongdoing."

According to this article, Michigan is a major center of Islam and has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States. Didn't know. So, with this new power granted to the FBI, lots of Arab Americans are concerned about profiling. Baruch touched on this subject too, saying: "Muslims complain about being monitored too much or too many false arrests and being humiliated. I agree with them and if authorities know what's going on in the community they can be more professional about it and eliminate lots of mistakes and focus on the elements to stop or prevent such incidents."

Anything having to do with race tends to be a touchy subject. I'm currently working on a profiling article for our January issue and hope to flesh out how authorities are balancing being proactive in seeking out the bad guys without being racist. Let me know if you have any insight.


Johnson to keynote TechSec 2009

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I am very pleased to announce that Jack Johnson, the former CSO of the Department of Homeland Security (not the singer), will be the keynote speaker at TechSec Solutions 2009, which will be held, once again, at Dallas' Fairmont Hotel Feb. 23-25.

Today, Johnson is a partner and managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers' Washington Federal Practice. He has spent a lifetime working in law enforcement and corporate security roles, including stints in the Army, as a Fairfax County detective and more than 20 years in the Secret Service, before taking on his DHS role.

He now advises senior level government officials as a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, providing strategic planning for risk management, security technology and intelligence matters.

Johnson spoke at TechSec in 2006, when the event was held in Savannah, Ga., as part of a panel exploring the interaction between IT and security directors. Speaking with Steve Colo, chief security officer at SAIC, Johnson discussed the way that IP has forever changed the organizational framework of the security department and the relationship between physical security and IT.

I am very much looking forward to hearing his perspective in Dallas.

Hello, again

Monday, December 1, 2008

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I had a lovely, relaxing vacation, thank you. Why does it have to go by so fast?

As I mentioned before, we are launching SDNtv in the middle of January. If any of you are interested in being interviewed or submitting a video (such as a tour of your office, your central command center, introducing or recognizing your team, or anything else relatively interesting) e-mail me at You can't let me hog all the camera time.

Also, I wanted to point out that SDN's managing editor, Leischen Stelter, has started her own blog. She'll be tackling issues that affect the public sector — transportation, education and healthcare. Leischen joined us in September but has been kicking around the security industry for a few years now.

On another note, how disturbing was the incident at Wal-Mart on Friday. Who's to blame? The crazed consumers? The store for not having enough security in place? Both?

I'm not sure but I do believe that Black Friday is an insane way to spend the day after Thanksgiving and the pseudo holiday has only gotten bigger in recent years. Stop the madness.

On a completely unrelated note, I am still reeling from yesterday's Patriots game. Not only did they play ridicuously bad, but the CBS commentators (hello Dan Dierdof) could not have been more in love with the Steelers, even when the Pats had the lead. Oh and by the way, I'm not getting rid of my Matt Cassel screensaver just yet.


Security is in fashion

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Louis Vuitton display in Las Vegas:

Who knew cameras were so hip?

Also, my final view of G2E (also doubles as a save-the-date)


Going dark

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I never EVER thought I would say this but here it is: I am completely Vegas-ed out. I know — all of you are in shock but it's really true. I don't know if I will feel differently in time for ISC West but right now, I'd say no way.

The gaming show was good and I had some interesting appointments with Honeywell, Cisco, Dallmeier and Sting (their motto is 'we'll be watching you') among others. I'll be sharing some video in the coming weeks on our new SDNtv feature. The real highlight of this event is always the educational sessions and if you are in security and surveillance and have not attended (and have the budget), I encourage you to do so. There are some great topics and speakers.

This blog is going to go dark (to use a Vegas word) for the next week or so as I am heading out on my first true vacation in two years. My plan is to work as little as possible, although who knows, you may see a new post from me tomorrow.