Remember the good old days when security was obscure – the office at the end of the longest, darkest corridor? The hum and rattle of the badge printer. The clatter of the steel door giving access to the manufacturing floors and loading docks where the security team casually made its rounds, wrote its reports, investigated incidents.

The security director’s job was so peaceful. So serene. With no troubles or worries, and best of all, no office politics. Just tending to the flowers and drinking gallons of hot Hills Brothers coffee.

Skreeeeeeeeeeccchhh!!! Huh? Wuh? Oh man, I was dreaming. I cleared the sleep from my eyes and flipped on the tube.

Cyber Attacks

CNN was reporting a rise in DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against Estonia. Chinese hackers were launching sympathy attacks against Russia in tacit defense of Estonia and Pentagon officials were declaring that U.S. troops were being mobilized in the south Pacific in preparation for a China-Russia conflict. Apparently the cyber war was being considered a preamble to conventional war.

Oy. Enough of that! I clicked off remote and grabbed the Financial Times.

Barclays Bank officials were commiserating with German banking executives over new European privacy regulations that required all documents, whether digital or printed on paper, had to be tightly secured while in use and destroyed immediately after use. The debate was raging over what level of skills needed by security guards who accompanied printed documents. Wackenhut was praising the new regulations as an appropriate use of security personnel. Securitas was hiring approximately1.2 million guards in anticipation of the new demand.

Those wacky Europeans.

A Camera in Every Pot

Let’s look at the Washington Post. New York, Chicago, Miami and Seattle have instituted the controversial “One Camera Per Household” program. It makes all cameras on the city streets viewable by any citizen over a city’s WiMAX network. The intention is to extend the concept of Neighborhood Watch to the entire city, and thereby reduce burdens on law enforcement while neighbors become more self-policing. In this story, the Seattle system was getting plagued with hijacked broadcasts that appeared to be normal video images but, in fact, images were altered by video software like iMovie from Apple. The mayor and Bill Gates were quoted as saying that the Macintosh computer is a public safety hazard and should be eradicated from city limits.

What’s this world coming to? I laid back and closed my eyes and wished for a simpler world. Huh? Wuh? I awoke with a start to the sound of Ludacris’ War With God. Just my cell phone. Whoa. I must have been dreaming the whole time. The Estonia crisis is over. The Pentagon was not mobilizing. Security guards weren’t in every office and cameras weren’t on every corner. Phew!

Suddenly I felt grateful that the world is only as screwed up as it is, and not worse. Security directors are involved in office politics, yes, but the best of them use the politics for their own success. Compliance to regulations is a challenge, but one that can be met with proper uses of technologies and processes available today. And video surveillance is a growing business with loads of benefits for businesses and municipalities, as long as we take reasonable measures to secure the systems.

For those of you, like me, who dream of a better future for the security industry and its practitioners, frightening dreams sometimes cross our minds. But by collecting and discussing best practices, and keeping the vendors on their toes, we can create a future that affords us a little more time to tend the flowers.