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New NNSA chief; Y-12 breach costly

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Monday, February 11, 2013

The National Nuclear Security Administration has named Steve Asher, a retired Air Force colonel and former Spokane, Wash., Target store manager, as its acting head of nuclear security.

Asher served 33 years in the Air Force, including 10 as a nuclear security expert with the Air Force Office of the Inspector General, according to news reports. He also was commander of Malmstrom Air Force Base's 341st Security Forces Group in Montana, where he was in charge of security for 200 intercontinental ballistic missiles. According to some reports, Asher got less than glowing reviews in that role; the facility failed a security inspection some five months after his departure.

In his new job as chief, Asher will be overseeing, among others, the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Y-12, you will remember, was the target of three elderly protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, who last July went undetected as they cut through perimeter fences and defaced a building housing high-grade uranium.

That breach has cost taxpayers about $15 million in direct costs so far, OakRidger.com reports the NNSA as saying. That includes security modifications and additions and additional personnel. The cost is probably higher, OakRidger reported, as investigation costs and refresher training were not part of the $15 million estimate.

'20 under 40' winners: I'm impressed

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Monday, January 7, 2013

We've just announced Security Director News' "20 under 40" winners for 2013, and I couldn't be more pleased—or impressed.

I've had the pleasure of speaking with each of these outstanding young professionals, ages 25 to 39, over the past few months, first to let them know they'd been selected from among the dozens of exemplary nominees we received, and then to interview them about their roles across their diverse verticals, the technology they find most helpful and the challenges they face. The first five profiles have been posted on the SDN website today. Please take a look.

One of the common themes that cropped up during my interviews with the personable winners, aside from PSIMs and the technological advancements in surveillance cameras, was social media's role in security and emergency managment response. It's both positive and negative, they said.

Beth Brown, manager of Target's Corporate Command Center, told me: “There’s a social media aspect that definitely helps us in some cases, but it also creates a swirl that we need to respond to. It creates awareness for people, and that can cause panic, so now we’re not only managing a response to an incident, we’re also managing a response to the panic by people who might not even be related to it.” Brown and her team have been involved in a number of high-profile emergency situations.

Another common theme was the need to develop the business acumen necessary to speak effectively to the C-suite. You can't be a successful security professional if you don't know and understand the ins, outs and goals of the business you are charged with securing, they said.

The 20 winners will be honored at TechSec Solutions 2013 next month. I'm looking forward to meeting them in person.

 

 

 

'20 under 40' winner: Social media another facet of emergency response

Beth Brown, 37, manager, Corporate Command Center, Target, Minneapolis
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01/07/2013

Social media such as Twitter and Facebook present a challenge for Beth Brown in her role managing Target’s security and emergency operations center, but not one that she can’t handle. She views it as just another facet of emergency response.

Humble pie

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I have to eat crow. Isn't that the term?

Just one week ago I used this forum to complain about Target, a retailer that has been near and dear to my heart for some time (affordable Proenza Schuler!) Target had stonewalled me for some time on a couple of issues I desperately wanted to talk with them about. One was their Safe City program, a fantastic program the company sponsors that helps create public-private partnerships, with the goal being to increase security and reduce crime in cities across the country.

Well, after getting the dreaded "No trade publication" policy repeated to me one too many times, you could say I lost my cool (not so slightly) and used this blog to communicate that to a greater audience (They should have thought twice before giving me a blog.)

Anyway, less than 24 hours later Target's communication's department responded to my interview request on Safe City and this afternoon I actually spoke with two individuals who are heavily entrenched in this program. I think it is going to be a great story.

So, regardless of what happens tomorrow — who knows maybe their policy will be back in effect — I promise all of you, dear readers, that I will refrain from using this forum for my personal rants.

And, my apologies to Target as well. I hope this is only one of many opportunities I have to speak with the company's asset protection executives.

No trades allowed

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Monday, December 10, 2007

I have always been a big fan of Target, or Tar-jay as it is commonly pronounced. The gleaming aisles, the clean displays, the Isaac Mizrahi line I can afford. But lately the taste I have for the department store has soured.

Target is a big company and many of their loss prevention executives are big names in the industry. Take Brad Brekke, for example. He testified before Congress to push legislators to develop tougher penalties for online auction sites that sell fenced goods and those criminals that call organized retail crime their profession. What a great supporter to the industry.

That is why Target's unwillingness to work with our editorial staff here infuriates me so much. Whether we are working on a story about Target's Safe City program or if I am looking for a comment on a LP issue that has been covered in the mainstream press, the communications department always informs me that Target does not speak to the business-to-business, or trade, press. They say it is not their core market.

So imagine my surprise when I opened up the latest issue of Loss Prevention Magazine to see an article that outlines all Target has done to reduce return fraud at its stores. Eagerly, I contacted the author of the article (who, of course, happened to be a member of their communications department) and asked her if the "no trade press" policy had changed.

I got an e-mail from her this afternoon and she informed me that the company "still (has) a no-trade publication policy in place and the article that was produced for Loss Prevention Magazine was a rare occurrence."

(To clarify, I mean absolutely no disservice to Loss Prevention Magazine here. It is one of my favorite LP focused publications and they obviously succeeded where I failed.)

I think Target is missing the boat here. So many of their executives in security and loss prevention are doing fantastic things and some I have spoke with want to talk about their initiatives, but can't. Or they can only talk to a select group of media.

Robert Brown, system architect with Target, was set to serve as the closing speaker for our TechSec Solutions event last year and one week before the conference, the company informed us that he was not allowed to present. How great would it have been for our attendees to hear how Target had used IP technology to network security at its hundreds of stores?

So from now on, Target is a distant shopping memory for me (we did have some fun, didn't we?) And that's too bad because I had a lot of money to spend this holiday season.