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ADT, McAfee: Home security intersects with smartphone security

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I recently wrote about ADT’s announcement that it is partnering with Internet security provider McAfee this year to offer customers a plan that not only protects their homes, but their digital devices and data. Now a recent survey on how not protecting your smartphone can impact your security at home highlights just how important such a partnership is.

ADT made the announcement about McAfee at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Now, this week, ADT and McAfee released the results of the survey on how physical and digital security intersect in today’s world and how important it is for consumers to take steps to protect their online devices.

Their survey found that 39 percent of respondents “use technological devices to control their home security systems and 34 percent use smartphones to do so.”

But the survey of more than 1,000 consumers, which a press release said was commissioned by The Futures Company, indicated that about 51 percent of respondents “reported having their personal security compromised through both physical and online breaches.”

Disturbingly, however, the survey found that “respondents did not seem too concerned with protecting them, and many are comfortable sharing their passwords with others. Two in three smartphone users (67 percent) and tablet users (65 percent) report that they protect their devices with a password, yet nearly half (49 percent) admitted to sharing their password with at least one other person, risking their personal security and all the data found on their device.”

And, the press release said, “since over 33 percent of people use their devices to control to their physical alarm systems, and more than half of them fail to secure their devices with basic protection like private passwords, it seems our need for awareness in security is as great as the need for security itself.”

How will the ADT and McAfee partnership help?

Here’s what the companies had to say:
 

In the initial phase of the security collaboration, ADT will be bundling ADT Pulse, a complete security and automation solution that uses mobile technology, with McAfee LiveSafe, an award-winning data, identity, and digital device protection service. Together, the two services will provide an additional layer of protection for a customer's home or business, accessible through any web-connected smartphone or tablet. The ADT and McAfee partnership will develop a cohesive platform where users can easily protect their digital and physical domains from a single and centralized, easy-to-use portal. Together, ADT Pulse and McAfee LiveSafe service will establish new security standards and best practices that protect homes, properties, data, and personal identities.

"We are constantly seeking ways to increase protection for our customers in an increasingly connected and complex world," said Arthur Orduña, senior vice president and chief innovation officer at ADT. "Partnering with McAfee adds another vital layer of security to our Pulse solution with McAfee LiveSafe service, and opens up innovation opportunities for our platforms and products."

 

TechSec panels showcase perspectives of young leaders

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Less than a week remains until TechSec Solutions kicks off in the comparatively balmy climes of Delray Beach, Fla. The location itself will be a welcome respite for those of us coping with the deep freeze to the north, but it’s the quality of the speakers and panelists that stand to be the biggest draw.  

I wanted to use this space to draw attention to a pair of Next Gen Security Series panels slated for the opening day, one of which I’ll be moderating. For the panel, titled “Security integrators’ perspective: The changing landscape of security integration,” I’ll be asking four members of SSN’s latest “20 under 40” class a range of questions focused on new and emerging technologies, all with an eye toward identifying what implications such developments have for the industry as a whole.

The panelists for my session will be Johnny Cunningham, director of information technology at ADS Security; Robert Gaulden, VP of sales & marketing at Kratos; Jesse Rivest, territory manager at Affiliated Monitoring; and Joe Parisi, senior account executive at Rapid Response Monitoring. Considering the range of professional responsibilities, the panel provides a pretty strong snapshot of the industry.

The other Next Gen panel will include “20 under 40” winners from SSN’s sister publication, Security Director News, and that session will be moderated by SDN editor Amy Canfield.

From Delray Beach I’ll be following up with more coverage on the Next Gen panels, while covering several other events in the TechSec program. I’m eager to meet some new folks down at the conference, and eager to hear what those at the vanguard think of the industry’s direction.

Surveillance video could tie ex-NFL star Hernandez to other murders

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Maybe it’s because Aaron Hernandez was so used to being in front of TV cameras as an NFL star that he came to ignore their existence. Recent stories about the former New England Patriots tight end suggest that he was pretty clueless about how surveillance cameras are virtually everywhere we go nowadays—and are making a record of what we do.

Now it appears that surveillance video links him to not only the murder of a good friend last year, but to a 2012 Boston drive-by shooting in which two men died and a third was wounded.

I’ve blogged here previously about news reports saying that security cameras in Hernandez’ Massachusetts home recorded him with a gun both hours before—and minutes after—his friend Odin Lloyd was shot to death last summer.

Hernandez has been charged with murder in the killing of Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston semi-professional football player whom Hernandez was angry with. Texts from Lloyd’s phone indicate he was with Hernandez the night before his body, riddled with bullets, was found June 17 in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez's home, news reports say. The Patriots released Hernandez after he was arrested shortly after the shooting, and he remains in jail.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the 2013 murder charge, but authorities also have been looking into his potential involvement in the 2012 shootings one year earlier.

Fox News reported recently that a newly released search warrant says that Hernandez may have pulled the trigger in the Boston drive-by shootings.

Fox reported that a detective wrote: “There is also probable cause to believe that Aaron Hernandez was operating the suspect vehicle used in the shooting homicides of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, and may have been the shooter.”

Witnesses told police at the time of the Boston shooting that a silver or gray Toyota 4Runner or Nissan Pathfinder with Rhode Island plates had opened fire on the vehicle that Abreu and Furtado were in that night, Fox said. But police had little to go on until security cameras helped them, according to Fox.

Here’s some of what the Fox report had to say:
 

The first inkling that Hernandez could have been involved in the 2012 killings came after Lloyd’s death. A detective recalled recognizing Hernandez on surveillance footage from a nightclub the victims had visited shortly before they were shot on a highway overpass.”

… Then came Lloyd’s killing … and the possible connection to Hernandez.

Detectives went back to the video surveillance from the club Abreu and Furtado had been visiting and from other cameras in the area.

They located footage of Hernandez parking in a garage down the street from the club at 12:04 a.m. on July 16, 2012, according to the warrant. He was driving a silver 2006 Toyota 4Runner with Rhode Island license plates. The footage showed Hernandez and a man later identified as Bradley outside Cure Lounge a short time later. The two of them entered the club just after Abreu, Furtado and their three friends.

And although Hernandez and Bradley left nearly an hour before Abreu and Furtado, surveillance cameras captured a vehicle believed to be the 4Runner slowly circling the block as the two men and their friends walked to a parking garage to get their car.

The shootings of Abreu, Furtado and the other man were reported less than 15 minutes later several blocks from the club.

 

A different approach to PSIM

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So, I was getting an update from Rob Hile, who is the new director of strategic accounts for SureView Systems, about his plans to drive business for the software provider. His plan is an interesting new take on the sometimes touchy topic of PSIM.

SureView, which has been around for 14 years, is fairly well known for its Immix software platform in the central station world, but Hile's goal is to expand Immix's horizons way beyond the central station world.

In the past two or three years the company "made a few tweaks" and the result is a "mid-market, situational awareness/PSIM solution ... that's cost effective, lighter, faster and cheaper [than other PSIM solutions]," he said. "It's cloud-based and it's dot.net, so it's super easy to install and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to operate it."

While high-end PSIM solutions allow an operator to "fly through buildings using a joy stick ... do you really want your guards in your SOC who are making $8 to $9 an hour flying through your building looking at graphics?" he asked. "No," he told me, answering his own question. What you want is a system that will allow the operator to handle an emergency quickly and efficiently and with the software, backed up by standard operating procedures, he said.

Well, in some applications, ports for example, you might want a joy stick-enabled PSIM and other bells and whistles, but Hile is betting that the majority of applications that could use this solution fall into the middle-market category.  Those include "cities and municipalities, higher education, Fortune 500 companies with multiple locations across the country that are doing acquisitions, pharmaceutical companies, retail, banking."

"The central station software has integrations built to 450 devices and about 65 manufacturers. We've got those done and the list is growing. ... and the licensing model is that you buy it and you can put in on as many servers and workstations as you want and we're not going to gouge you for that."

As he develops SureView's channel strategy, Hile will be working with large and mid-sized integrators--several of whom he's worked with or competed with previously. As an example, he'll be working with one large integrator's sales force (which numbers in the hundreds) educating them about SureView and helping them close deals when the time comes.

That sales force will be a "force multiplier" for SureView, Hile said. "If you're looking for a joy stick to fly through buildings, this is not the solution, but if you really want a user-friendly, cost effective solution to solve your challenge. I've got it. ... This is going to change the way PSIM makers go to market," he said.

Time will tell of course, but companies like SureView, that seek to change the PSIM model certainly bear watching.

 

 

 

 

Google gets into home automation with $3.2 billion buy of smoke alarm company

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We wrote this fall about a new smoke/CO detector so smart it can talk to home residents and tell them if there’s a fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Now Google likes that detector—called Nest Protect—and other products made by California-based Nest Labs so much that it is buying the smoke alarm company for $3.2 billion.

The deal, announced this week, is Google’s second largest acquisition so far, after its 2012 purchase of Motorola, a mobile phone maker, according to news reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that “Nest has the lion’s share of the nascent market for ‘smart’ thermostats and recently began selling smart smoke detectors.”

The WSJ also says, “Analysts and executives see Nest as a beachhead for Google to expand its place in the home.” Nest will retain its brand, according to news sources. It will be interesting to see what it and Google will do in the home automation space with Google's big bucks behind the effort.

Here’s more of what Nest had to say about its new detector back in the fall when it was released:
 

The Nest Protect detector speaks and gives users a vocal “heads up,” telling them what it detects before emitting an alarm. It can be silenced with the wave of a hand and will send messages to integrated mobile devices to ask for new batteries.

“We’ve all experienced the smoke alarm going off while we’re cooking or searched for the source of that incessant low-battery chirp in the middle of the night,” said Tony Fadell, founder and CEO of Nest. Fadell, a former Apple executive, said those annoyances lead people to trust their alarms less, or turn them off to stop the noise.

The company says studies have shown children sleep through beeps, but wake up to the sound of voices, so Nest Protect features a female voice alarm to help wake sleeping children.

Nest Protect senses heat, carbon monoxide and smoke levels as they rise to offer early warnings. The device shows its sensors and batteries are working with a green glow when lights are turned off. Multiple devices in a single home connect, sending alarms throughout the house when problems are detected.

 

Convergint gets a new president

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ken Lochiatto is the new COO and president of Convergint Technologies, the Illinois-based systems integrator announced today. Lochiatto comes to Convergint from WMS Industries, an Illinois-based electronic gaming and amusement company, where he was EVP and COO, and for the past 18 months was been president of WMS Gaming, a main subsidiary of WMS Industries. While Locchiatto's background is not security-specific, he's certainly familiar with the casino vertical. WMS Gaming is a "$700 million supplier to the global gaming business.”

I had a quick chat with Convergint CEO Dan Moceri who said that Locchiato fills an open position created when Jim Botwell stepped down for medical reasons. 

At WMS, Lochiatto is credited with driving improvements "in the company's processes to be more customer-centric, while nearly doubling WMS' revenues, operating margins and competitive positioning." Before joining WMS, he was with GE for 22 years. Most recently he served as Business Leader—Advanced Communications Systems, "a system integrator for the transit industry within the GE Transportation segment." Lochiatto has a BA in mechanical engineering from Rensselaeer Polytechnic Institute and an MA in industrial administration, from Carnegie Mellon University.

“Ken has a strong engineering background, [which is important] since we’re a highly technical company, but the key reason we hired him is his excellent leadership skills,” Moceri said. “He’ll support and grow our culture, which he fits very well.”

With Locciatto looking after Convergint in North America, Moceri will be able to “focus on strategy and acquisitions and continuing to build out a world wide or a global platform.”

In August, Convergint brought on a new capital partner [KRG]. “The result is that we have the opportunity to add an acquisition strategy to supplement our organic growth … which has been 21 percent per year organically,” Moceri said.

After the recent acquisitions of ICD, a company Moceri describes as the “Convergint of China,” and FSC in Canada, “the next thing we’re going to do is go to Europe.”

Yes. Moceri is looking now for “the Convergint of Europe” to acquire and he says he’s got some target companies.

The idea, he says is to “do all the things we do for our customers—Boeing, Capital One, Amazon, Dell—in their facilities all over the world. What we do in North America … we will be doing around the world,” he said.

2014 is looking to be a busy year for Convergint, Moceri said.
 

Digital Life, Imperial Capital join PPVAR

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Several organizations recently joined PPVAR’s growing membership roster, but two of the new additions are particularly striking. Digital Life, a home management platform from AT&T, is now on board, according to Keith Jentoft, an industry liaison for PPVAR. This comes about seven months after Digital Life earned CSAA Five Diamond certification.

Investment bank Imperial Capital also joined the organization. This is doubtless an interesting development as well, with Imperial being the organization's first member from the private investment side. In a certain sense, an investment bank showing interest in video verified monitoring seems unsurprising, given signs of the technology's more mainstream direction, plus the technology’s ability to drive higher average revenue returns per customer. Additionally, when a private investment bank allies itself with a best-practices organization, it suggests their interest in the value proposition runs fairly deep.

The group also added The Illinois Alarm Association and the Michigan Association of Police Chiefs as members—both organizations the likes of which we've become more accustomed to seeing engage with PPVAR, an organization focused on pooling knowledge from members in both public and private sectors.

As PPVAR forges ahead toward its goal of written standards for video verification, I’ll be keen to see what kind of bearings its new members have on the organization’s direction. Will the addition of Digital Life compel other cablecos and telecoms to join? And with respect to Imperial Capital, I’m curious to see what kind of role they play in promoting PPVAR’s cause. Will their membership generate further interest in video verification from other private investment groups?

The organization is convening in the coming days, Jentoft said. After they do, I hope to get a clearer picture of where the organization is at this stage of the process.

Will Securadyne be the next Convergint?

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Will Securadyne be the next Convergint?

That’s a possibility, according to Bill Bozeman, CEO of PSA Security. Bozeman has experience building a systems integration firm and knows both of the players in the Securadyne/Intelligent Access Systems deal that was announced yesterday.

In case you missed it, Securadyne, a start-up integrator founded by Carey Boethel and Pamlico Capital in early 2012, yesterday announced that it has acquired Ron Oetjen’s company, Intelligent Access Systems, one of the most successful and fastest growing regional integrators in the country. Here’s the a link to the story.

I talked to Bozeman today about the deal. He offered his opinion of the union and also discussed the stages of growth for integration companies—and the new challenges that come along with those different stages.

“I know both guys [Carey and Ron] well very well. They’re both PSA Security equity partners and owners. The consolidation, from our perspective, appears to be a good solid one. Carey is building a hell of a company with Securadyne; it looks to be the next Convergint, [and] congratulations to him [for that],” Bozeman said. Convergint is not a member of the PSA Security flock, but Bozeman praised [Convergint Technologies' CEO Dan Moceri] for building a very solid company.

Bozeman identified three growth-stage milestones for integration companies and the specific challenges that arise when companies grow past a certain stage.  Those milestones occur when a company reaches: A.) $3 to $5 million in revenue; B.) $10 - $15 million in revenue, and C.) $50 million in revenue.  

To get to $3 to $5 million in revenues you need to be a strong, entrepreneurial company, but to become a larger company, “You can no longer do everything yourself. You have to have a management team to help you with sales, technical and finance decisions,” he said. “This is a stage that a lot of companies can’t or don’t want to get past,” he said. The reason? They may be happy making a nice living and being the entrepreneur in charge, Bozeman said.

The next stage of growth hits when a company is doing $10 to $15 million in revenue. “They normally have more than one office and they need infrastructure. To get to the next level you need to hire well paid management people, and that can put a strain on profits of a company unless they’re well financed, which is unusual for most integration companies, or if they have a solid RMR model,” Bozeman explained. He also noted that Ron Oetjen had already successfully moved IAS past this stage.  

The third stage of growth is at around $50 million. “That’s when you really start to need a CEO and a senior management team made up of VPs that are experienced and are well paid,” Bozeman said.   

“Carey has already been president of Netversant and Siemens. He’s the ideal guy [to shepherd this company along] because he already knows what it’s like to run a company that’s $70 to $100 million or $200 million and beyond [in revenues],” Bozeman said.

“Carey’s a polished, senior level business guy who’s experienced on the large corporate side as well as on the entrepreneurial side. … And with Ron he’s got a super field general  [who brings with him] a strong middle-management team. Put that with Carey’s existing team and you have a nice equation for further success.”

Bozeman said it’s very important that Securadyne has a financial partner that knows the security business. “That’s an advantage,” he said. Pamlico Capital is a $2 billion Charlotte, N.C.-based middle-market private equity group. Pamlico was an investor in Sonitrol, but exited when that company was sold to Stanley Works in 2008.
Not all capital partners understand the security integration business, Bozeman noted.

Of course, Bozeman said, growing a national integration company is not an easy thing to do. “The proof will be in the pudding.”

ADT at CES 2014: New partnerships expand security beyond the home

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ADT announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week that it is partnering with Ford Motor Company in 2014 to enable drivers to do such things as open garage doors or control their thermostats from a car.

The company also is partnering with Internet security provider McAfee this year to offer customers a plan that not only protects their homes but their digital devices and data. Additionally, ADT is partnering with health solutions provider Ideal Life to support its ADT Health platform “with real-time health management services.”

ADT also announced it has added enhancements to ADT Pulse—such as remote garage door control.

The announcements all have one thing in common: expanding ADT’s security reach beyond the customer's home.

“As a pioneer in the home security and automation space, ADT is focused on evolving the security industry by developing new ways for consumers to integrate our products seamlessly into their everyday lives,” said Arthur Orduña, senior vice president and chief innovation officer for ADT, in a prepared statement. ADT, which became an independent company in the fall of 2012 after splitting from Tyco International, had a booth this week at the CES show for the second year in a row.

Here’s more from ADT on the new PULSE enhancements, which will be available this spring:
 

ADT PulseVoice App: ADT Pulse Voice app offers the hands-free convenience of using voice commands to control nearly all areas of the home in the Pulse ecosystem, including lights, thermostats, door locks, small appliances and security systems. ADT Pulse Voice also responds to user’s vocal commands and provides auditory feedback on system status and confirmation of actions.
ADT Pulse Wireless Platform: The ADT Pulse Wireless Platform features an innovative and sleek design with an intuitive, touch-friendly user interface. The wireless control panel securely and safely manages all ADT Pulse controlled devices such as lights, thermostats, locks, and small appliances. Created with the user in mind, the ADT Pulse Wireless Platform is designed to deliver a non-invasive and seamless installation experience for homeowners, reducing installation time by half and avoiding any in-wall wiring.
ADT Pulse Remote Garage Door Control: To help ensure security and control at all access points of the home, ADT Pulse will feature remote garage door controls by incorporating leading technology developed by Linear LLC. This new feature will enable users to secure and control their garage door via the ADT Pulse smartphone app from around the corner or around the world.
Canopy App: Building on the trusted expertise of ADT home security services, the Canopy mobile application for iOS and Android provides users added personal protection and networking while on the go. Canopy enables users to identify the whereabouts of and communicate with friends and family members in a designated virtual circle. Additionally, the integrated ADT Chaperone feature provides a direct line to trusted ADT monitoring centers anytime and anywhere. ADT Chaperone is a subscription-based feature within the Canopy app that provides added protection and peace of mind in situations such as entering a dark parking garage or walking alone across campus at night.

 

Alarm.com puts its own spin on PERS

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Alarm.com’s new Wellness solution, unveiled recently at CES, may perform some of the same functions as a traditional PERS unit, but the solution has the unmistakable stamp of an Alarm.com offering.

The solution combines mobile notifications and sensors with the company’s home automation platform, a medley of functionalities that make it a unique contribution to the independent living product realm, which is fast becoming a widespread RMR-generating fixture in the industry.

That’s not to say Wellness doesn’t feature some of the typical trappings of more traditional PERS technology. The solution includes panic buttons, for instance. But how the offering differs from traditional PERS units in some ways parallels how Alarm.com initially distinguished itself as a company in the residential security space—through its automation functions. Through a network of sensors, the solution can automatically detect unusual information and send mobile notifications to caregivers.  

Since Wellness is fully integrated with the company’s home automation, energy management and security services, the offering essentially slots in as another component of the broader ecosystem of a connected home. Another neat wrinkle to the offering, and one that maybe shouldn’t be surprising given the overarching design of the solution, is that it enables caregivers to adjust household devices like thermostats remotely.

It’s hard to think of a product perfectly analogous to this elsewhere in the industry, though that doesn’t mean there’s not one, or at least something similar in scope and breadth. In the coming days, once CES is in the rearview mirror, I plan to speak to Alison Slavin, VP of product management at Alarm.com, to find out more about how this product puts a new spin on the PERS space, as well as what the future holds for the company in that market. 

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