Doug Bedell — August 29, 2014, 10:25 am

A World of Mounting Threats

Under pressure

Feeling uneasy in a world beset by security threats? Welcome to the worriers – the worrying is justified. Philip J. Palin discusses on Homeland Security Watch the vexation of a reality beset by random threats.  “Is there an epidemiology of evil?,” he asks, after listing todays depredations, both natural and man-made. “Is there a target-zero? Some sort of pump-handle to remove and thereby mitigate or prevent unnecessary death, injury and destruction?”

Perhaps, Palin says. But the reality is more a random one. “There are many more of us interacting in many more ways and our connections are increasingly interdependent. The potentialities are as logarithmic as the Richter. Reality is robustly random. Extremes are not anomalies, they ought to be expected. But they cannot be precisely predicted.

“Plenty of opportunities for October surprises.” Geez – enjoy the weekend.

Doug Bedell — August 27, 2014, 3:23 pm

Security With a Green Thumb


The folks at Advanced Perimeter Systems drove into their site recently and decided there was something missing – greenery! Yes, security protection needs to be effective, but it doesn’t need to be stark and lifeless. A little landscaping can help make well-protected sites livable as well.

“We knew where we could plant in such a way as to not interfere with the technology, but we didn’t know what to plant,” says an APS blog post. “So we set about making a plan.” The plan included help from a local landscaper, and the APS perimeter is now graced with a bit of greenery. Can’t but help a safe and secure image!

Doug Bedell — August 25, 2014, 10:52 am

Photo IDs Aren’t Assuredly Reliable

From Bruce Schneier, here’s something to remember if you rely on checking photo IDs as a security routine. Human perceptions are, of course, pretty much universal, but here’s the result of a test of face-matching passport checks in Australia. It was done by the Universities of Aberdeen, York and New South Wales to check the ability of Australian passport officers to match photos on a computer screen with the faces of people standing in front of their desks.

“It was found,” Schneier reports, “that on 15 percent of trials the officers decided that the photograph on their screen matched the face of the person standing in front of them, when in fact, the photograph showed an entirely different person.” Oh dear.

Doug Bedell — August 22, 2014, 9:04 am

UPS Stores Hit by Hackers, Too


UPS Stores are having their own stressful moments in terms of hacking attacks and potential security headaches for customers. Naked Security reports that “Data breaches at 51 UPS Stores in two dozen U.S. states have put as many as 100,000 customers at risk of identity theft and credit card fraud, after malware was found on the stores’ networks, the company said.” The UPS Store – a subsidiary of global shipping service UPS – began checking after receiving a  bulletin from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “warning of a ‘broad-based malware intrusion’ targeting retailers.” Unfortunately, it found malware on the stores’ point-of-sale registers, “similar although not necessarily related to the attack on Target in late 2013.”  If not eternal, lets apply contemporary vigilance, folks.

Doug Bedell — August 20, 2014, 11:14 am

What a Full-Bodied Security System Involves

From the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami Health System comes one of the most comprehensive listings of security precautions, both physical and environmental, that we’ve seen. Appropriately, the list begins with the physical security perimeter and extends all the way down to “secure disposal or re-use of property.”

Scan the Miller list to get a sense of what you might be missing in terms of a full-featured site security system. While it doesn’t include vehicle access control expressly, it’s pretty full-bodied.

Doug Bedell — August 18, 2014, 1:33 pm

An App for What?

There’s a new, well-intended app out that could, however, do with some second thoughts. It’s called Hero911 and is intended, says Homeland Security Watch, “to reduce law enforcement response time to active shooting incidents at schools.” Schools work with local police to set up use of the app.  But in practice, Homeland Security Watch wonders, could it prompt response by, say, an off-duty policeman before an on-duty colleague arrives? And suppose the on-duty cop starts shooting at…his colleague, thinking he’s the shooter?

Ghastly? Yes, likely, maybe. We’ve got to think through, really think through, all sorts of security situations these days.

Doug Bedell — August 15, 2014, 10:21 am

An Infographic Providing Keys to Computer Security

The best way to keep on top of electronic security threats is to follow reports on what’s been harassing computer systems. That may seem self-evident, but an infographic on Information Week’s Dark Reading blog shows how to “Get Smart About Threat Intelligence.”

Study the display for a while and you’ll  find you have lots of sophisticated company in figuring out how to thwart or avoid altogether computer security attacks. The infographic is sponsored by Symantec.

Doug Bedell — August 13, 2014, 10:51 am

Too Fat for National Security

This hasn’t to do with physical security, unless you consider that the availability of physically fit people is important to any security system. And the reality for America is that too many of its people are, to put it bluntly, obese. Homeland Security Watch (HSW) considers the fitness threat to U.S. interests.

“Some people (e.g., several hundred retired admirals and generals) argue obesity threatens both the security and resilience of the nation,” HSW advises. “Obesity” it adds, “threatens more than the nation’s ability to staff its armed forces. It’s an economic threat,” as well as a factor in U.S. mortality rates. Spread, dare we say, the word.

Doug Bedell — August 11, 2014, 10:53 am

There’s an App for Security Against Crime


AlertID and the National Crime Prevention Council have partnered to create a smartphone app – McGruff Mobile – that advises of crime threats  in your neighborhood. (The council is home to McGruff the Crime Dog himself.)

Available for iPhone and Android, the app provides alerts from trustworthy sources as well as law enforcement bulletins, severe weather and hazardous materials alerts and more. It can act as a virtual neighborhood watch, and allows you to report suspicious activity to neighbors, the police and even Homeland Security.

Doug Bedell — August 8, 2014, 10:37 am

More Than One Leaker

Bruce Schneier figures that the U.S. intelligence community has not one leaker – Edward Snowden – but three of them. Schneier thinks there’s a source in Germany as well as one at the National Terrorist Screening Database (NTSD).

Incidentally, CNN says that the cities with the most names on the NTSD list are New York, Dearborn (MI), Houston, San Diego, and Chicago. Dearborn, CNN notes, has one of the nation’s biggest concentrations of Arab and Muslim populations.