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TechSec, Day 1

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Well, we had a great first day here in Dallas for TechSec Solutions, now in year 5, with some well-received presentations and some interesting technology on the show floor. Attendance is a bit down - I'm not sure how we could have avoided that in this climate - but spirits are surprisingly up. Those people who are here aren't exactly crowing of boom times, but most talk about the opportunity that a down economy presents for aggressive companies with technology that solves real problems. (Of course, I don't think any conference wants to open on a day when the Wall Street Journal leads with a story about how the market is 50 percent off its peak.) Anyway, remember that post where I wondered about whether IPv6 was a big deal or not? Well, our keynoter, Jack Johnson, former CSO for DHS, apparently feels IPv6 is a big deal. He used his presentation to argue that it presents quite a few difficulties for a security staff. Chief among them is the fact that, while security is built into IPv6, there are also inherent ways for malicious hackers to hide their efforts and the increase in addresses makes the 'Net far more difficult to police and scan. Further, it's possible hackers will be able to much more accurately target those they'd like to damage, and may even be able to actually keep tabs on, say, people they'd like to target for assassination, simply by tracking their IP-enabled mobile device using its unique global IP number. Kind of scary, really. This was followed up nicely with a presentation by the Open Security Exchange, including Laurie Aaron from Quantum Secure, Dan Moceri from Convergint, Chip LeBlanc from Imprivata, and Dan Dunkel, who consults as New Era Associates. Their message centered on convergence in real life, a bringing together of the IT and security departments, not just a new technology for moving around security data. Following on Jack's speech, which essentially emphasized that the physical security department will be increasingly important in protecting the end points of a company's network, their message was that data loss is an increasingly important threat organizations need to guard against, and a simple convergence technique - like marrying logical and physical identities so that when an employee is terminated their physical access and network access are eliminated at the same time - can prevent real damage to a corporation or government entity. I think their message was well received, even if some attendees have convergence-fatigue. Maybe the best-received panel of the day came from Fredrik Nilsson of Axis, Steve van Till of Brivo and Andres Armeda of Secure-i. They spoke of the new trend of managed access control and managed video as delivered by security installers and integrators. They asked a simple question: You use software as a service for so many vital operations in your life and business already - online banking through your browser, salesforce.com, investment management with your broker - why should security be any different? And why are security alarm companies, so great at creating RMR, not jumping on providing this service? A number of integrator attendees have told me they're looking to increase their RMR - one said frankly they only do about two percent of their revenue in RMR - but they're having trouble figuring out the mechanism. Managed access, particularly, since it's not bandwidth intensive, seems to offer that mechanism. Other problems, however, include changing a culture at an integrator that has been focused on landing the big $1 million job, and maybe doesn't know how to compensate for someone who lands a $599-a-month account. Also drawing a good crowd was the storage panel I moderated, pitting leading voices from DNF, EMC, Intransa, and Pivot3 against one another (okay, it just seemed like they were pitted against one another - really it was a simple panel discussion, but, boy, there was a bit of sniping going on). Dick O'Leary from EMC, being the big dog in the room, bore the brunt of backhanded compliments, but handled it with aplomb, at one point noting that he wasn't sure whether EMC knew about a certain technology, since they'd only spent $1.7 BILLION in R&D last year. Still, attendees told me they appreciated getting an understanding of how these storage manufacturers differentiate themselves, as it can be difficult to figure out what the difference really is. And then, well, everyone went to the main hall for the free drinks. You'll see more on the show in the Thursday newswire, and hopefully we'll have some video up from the show later today. SsnTVnews is going to be bumping with new interviews and full-length videos of the keynote and other sessions in short order. It'll be just like you were here (except no free drinks).

Cisco joins ONVIF?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The bar at the Fairmont is always a treasure trove of information during TechSec Solutions, and this year is no different. Most interesting thing overheard: Cisco, which supplied the basis for the PSIA's device-discovery specification, has joined ONVIF. I'm working on a link to confirm that, but I haven't found it yet. I'm thinking Wednesday's Standards panel is going to be a hum-dinger.

And the Pelco Access buyer is:

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Monday, February 23, 2009
In a not-unexpected move (a little birdie told me this was going to happen), the former Integral guys have bought the access division back from Pelco and will spin off as a new company. It actually happened on Friday, but I've been doing some traveling and seeing some music in Austin, so I'm just getting around to posting this today. Sorry about that. I don't have a web link, but here's a cut-and-paste of the release:
Pelco Sells Intelli-M Electronic Access Control Business Unit, to infinias, LLC. CLOVIS, CALIFORNIA – February 20, 2009 – Pelco, Inc. today announced that it has signed an agreement to sell the Intelli-M® Electronic Access Control product line to infinias, LLC. The deal which will include intellectual property, assets, and products in development related to the Intelli-M product line is set to close on our around March 16, 2009. Infinias, LLC a newly formed and independent company, will focus on the development, growth and support of the Intelli-M business, while maintaining integration with Pelco video security products.
I think it's a good sign that the companies will remain friendly and the integration of the products will continue. This might just be a more efficient way to market the access product, even if there's a little bit more overhead in creating a new company. It allows there to be focus, from marketing through sales, on one product line.
Until the transition is complete Pelco dealer and distributor customers will continue to purchase products and obtain support for warranty and repairs direct from Pelco. At the close of the sale, infinias, LLC will take over all sales and support, including warranty support for Intelli-M products previously sold by Pelco. Pelco customers can expect the same level of support from infinias, LLC as they have been receiving through Pelco.
Ugh. Please notice that infinias is another one of those companies that dislikes being a proper noun. Why? Why would you want to send the message that you believe your company is a common noun? It makes no sense to me - it subconsciously indicates to any English speaker that your company is implicitly less important than a company that capitalizes itself. Just sayin'.
“Pelco decided that the best way to serve our customers is to stay focused on our core video products, and to spin off the access control business unit to infinias, LLC who, as the current development team, are best suited to maintain and expand the Intelli-M access control business,” said Dean Meyer, President and CEO of Pelco, Inc. “We will work with infinias, LLC to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.”
This is consistent with what Dean told me here.
Wayne Jared, Pelco Vice President of EAC Engineering will lead infinias, LLC, as President and CEO, once the transaction is complete. Other key members of the Pelco EAC team based in Indianapolis, Ind., will join the new company as well. “Infinias, like Pelco, is committed to our customers and to providing continued support for today’s Intelli-M products,” says Jared, “We will also develop new simple, scalable and secure products to meet the future needs of the EAC market.”
I'm putting in a call to Jared today and hopefully will have a few more quotes from him by newswire day on Thursday.
The Intelli-M product line today consists of the eIDC a cutting-edge Ethernet enabled integrated door controller which is one of the first POE door controllers introduced to the security market; and Supervisor Plus® a full-featured scalable security management software system that integrates access control, intrusion detection, photo badging and digital video. A new addition to the Intelli-M family will be announced at ISC West.
Meyer did mention they were spending more on R&D than they were getting back in sales, so the new ISC product may very well be pretty interesting. If you want to poke around, it looks like they've already set up www.infinias.com. I'm fairly impressed, actually, with how fast they turned around a new logo and corporate identity. That stuff isn't as easy as it looks.

Attn: Centrals with accounts in Northern Utah: 10-digit dialing

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Friday, February 20, 2009
I just came across this story from localnews8.com, which promises a real hassle of time to come for any central stations with accounts in the Northern Utah area code 801. Apparently strong population growth has exhausted the allotted phone lines, and the Utah Public Service Commission is being forced to add a new area code, 385, to accommodate. I just did a quick check at NBFAA's website. There're close to 30 security companies in 801 who're members. Yikes. This will of course require centrals to track down their accounts with numbers that need to be changed, and set up a truck roll with their local technician to go to each account and reprogram the panel. Seems like a big pain in the neck. But such is the price we pay for progress and population.

Gillmore joins SNA

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Friday, February 20, 2009
Just got this release today and thought I'd post it since I just recently learned about Gillmore Security. (I talked to Alan Gillmore last month. And there's a story in the upcoming March issue about this high-end resi company, which is located in Cleveland.) Gillmore just joined Security Networks of America. SNA is a group that's been around for quite a while, but "is pretty quiet in the industry," according to Dave Carter who gave a presentation at the recent Barnes Buchanan Security Alarm Conference. There's a brief in the March issue about that presentation. SNA is a member organization that's limited to privately held companies that have their own central station. SNA's holding its executive IT conference in Dallas on Monday, co-locating with our TechSec conference, which takes place Tuesday and Wednesday. I expect to get a chance to catch up with the folks from Gillmore and some of the other SNA members and will have more to report later. For now, here's the release:
Gillmore Security is Newest Shareholder in Security Network of America SOUTHERN PINES, NC (February 13, 2009) – Security Network of America (SNA) the organization in which independent security firms work together to compete successfully with giant national firms, announces its newest shareholding company, Gillmore Security of Cleveland, Ohio. “We’re very pleased to welcome Gillmore Security as a charter shareholder of SNA,” said Managing Director David W. Carter. “For nearly 40 years, Gillmore has been providing exceptional security service to businesses and residences in northeastern Ohio.” Participation in SNA is limited to firms that are privately owned, have a proven track record in the security and alarm business, own and operate their own UL Listed central station monitoring facilities and do not compete directly with each other. Today 36 SNA companies operate in 30 states and three Canadian provinces. Ranked collectively, SNA companies are among the top six security providers in North America. “Membership in SNA brings significant advantages,” Carter said. “As a corporate entity, our members can share key operational indicators to evaluate how we compare to our peers, the education and training programs we’ve developed keep our members on the cutting edge professionally and our combined purchasing power helps us gain leverage with equipment suppliers.” “At Gillmore Security, we’ve never been concerned about being the biggest, just about being the best,” said CEO Alan Gillmore III, whose father founded the firm in 1971. “We see our involvement with SNA providing us with significant advantages that will translate into even better service for our customers. SNA companies are in the same field, and I’ve always felt that the best way to learn is from people who are facing the same challenges you are. “Even though we operate regionally, participation in SNA gives us a national perspective that I’m convinced will help us serve our customers better than ever.”

RedShift gets $6m more in funding

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Thursday, February 19, 2009
The investor community continues to commit money to the security industry and ancillary manufacturers. You'll see on the home page a story about new investment in Alarm.com, which the CEO calls a good sign for the industry. And I found on the wire today this story about RedShift, which develops thermal surveillance technology, getting another $6 million in funding from a collection of investors:
RedShift will use the funding to complete development of its Thermal Light Valve(TM) -based camera platform, which is designed to be the lowest-cost and easiest-to-integrate thermal imaging solution for OEMs. Thermal imaging is a critical technology for enabling a range of emerging energy efficiency products such as intelligent HVAC, energy auditing in buildings, adaptive data center cooling and network power management. Until RedShift, thermal imaging was largely unaffordable for use in these and many other applications. “We are thrilled that Emerson has decided to back RedShift,” said Matthias Wagner, Chairman and co-Founder of RedShift. “There is tremendous fit between our technology and Emerson’s businesses and I expect this investment will be the start of a very productive relationship.”
They don't actually mention security, but I'm sure someone could creatively use such technology, and I know they have some exposure to security in general. Also, want to point out where I found this information. PeHUB provides great coverage of the venture capital and investor world and you can get a daily email from them by clicking here. The author of the email, Dan Primack, is quite good. Almost makes all that money talk seem interesting.

Brink's news: profits up, Soros is among stockholders

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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Brink's Home Security released Q4 earnings today. Below is a a brief AP report on that, and further down an item on billionaire and big Democrat George Soros, who bought a little more than 1,100,000 shares of Brink's Home Security stock before the end of the year, and before that stock price went up.
Brink's Home Security's 4Q profit gains 21 percent Brink's Home Security 4th-quarter profit rises on bigger subscriber base Wednesday February 18, 2009, 9:46 am EST IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Brink's Home Security Holdings Inc. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit increased 21 percent due to a larger subscriber base and lower royalty expense. Net income rose to $14.8 million, or 32 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, from $12.2 million, or 27 cents per share, in the year-ago period. On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast a fourth-quarter profit of 39 cents per share. The estimates typically exclude items. The company said it benefited from a reduction in the royalty rate charged by its former parent for November and December. Typically, the rate equaled about 7 percent of revenue, but decreased to 1.25 percent in November. Quarterly revenue gained 7 percent to $135.2 million from $126 million in the previous year due to growth in subscriber base and higher average monitoring rates. The company said its subscribers increased to 1.3 million, up more than 6 percent in the same period a year ago. For the year, earnings increased to $57.1 million, or $1.25 per share, from $44.2 million, or 96 cents per share, in 2007. Analysts were predicting earnings of $1.59 per share. Yearly revenue rose to $532.3 million from $484.4 million.
And this on George Soros:
New Purchase: BRINKS HOME SECURITY HOLDINGS INC (CFL) George Soros initiated holdings in BRINKS HOME SECURITY HOLDINGS INC. His purchase prices were between $15.5 and $23.5, with an estimated average price of $19.6. The impact to his portfolio due to this purchase was 0.82%. His holdings were 1,146,542 shares as of 12/31/2008.

CSAA looking for 2009 Central Station Excellence Awards entrants

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Get the Recognition Your Company and Employees Deserve! The CSAA has announced it's looking for entrants for it's annual Excellence Awards. Three years ago, CSAA initiated the CSAA Central Station Excellence Awards program to recognize the industry's central station, central station manager and the central station operator that best exemplified excellence in central station operation. In every industry, there are outstanding companies, managers and operators who all perform to the highest levels and standards. In fact, these are the companies and people that are constantly exploring new ways to raise the standards of performance and quality in an industry. The Board of Directors of CSAA feels that it is fitting that we continue to recognize the efforts of extraordinary companies and the extraordinary people who make them work. The CSAA Awards are open to all UL Listed and/or FM Approved Central Stations—including company-owned, proprietary, and wholesale (third-party) central stations. This year CSAA will again recognize the best central station and individuals with three distinct awards: The Central Station of the Year Award The Central Station Manager of the Year Award The Central Station Operator of the Year Award The winners will be announced and the awards conferred at the CSAA Awards Breakfast on June 24, 2009 during the 2009 Electronic Security Expo in Baltimore, Md. How to Participate IMPORTANT: New this year, you will be asked to submit some of your responses on a downloadable spreadsheet: 1. Click here to download the spreadsheet. (Please ignore any messages indicating that the file is corrupted). 2. Save the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on your computer under a new name (do not complete the form on the browser). 3. E-mail the completed spreadsheet before April 8, 2009 to the CSAA. 4. Download the rest of the materials by visiting the CSAA. You will also receive a mailing with the main application form. 5. You may e-mail the rest of the application as well, or you may send 10 completed copies of the rest of your application to CSAA, 8150 Leesburg Pike, Suite 700, Vienna, Va. 22182; Attention: Celia Besore. If you have any questions, please contact Celia Besore at 703-242-4670, Ext. 16. The deadline for submitting your Awards entries is Wednesday, April 8, 2009. All materials submitted are held in the strictest confidence. This is your opportunity to let your central station, your best manager, and your best operator get the recognition they deserve. Thank you for your commitment to raising the quality and standards of our profession and good luck!

File under: Well, of course

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Goverment Computer News gives us the following headline today: Physical security and cybersecurity go hand in hand Revelatory, I know. And I'm not trying to bust on GCN. I think they're among many who are just now coming to the same conclusion. And this isn't even about "convergence." It's about making sure you control access to your data center, keep track of your laptops, make sure people don't just walk out of your facility with USB drives filled with data they're not supposed to have access to. The thing is, public companies are way out in front on some of this because of Sarb-Ox regulations, which require that you have an audit trail of who had access to what data, those same regulations put in place by the U.S. government, but apparently not practiced by the U.S. government. Shocker. This seems to be the crux of the problem:
In the early days of computing physical and cyber security were one and the same. Mainframe computers were locked in computer rooms and accessed by hardwired dumb terminals. But as computers became smaller, smarter and more ubiquitous, property and data were dealt with separately and there traditionally has been little reintegration of physical and cyber security. Today, data in any form can be the most valuable asset in any organization, government or private, and the proliferation of devices on which it resides means that physical security is becoming as critical to protecting it as cyber security.
There seems to be a logical problem with that paragraph. As in: At first, we locked the doors to the computer room, then computers got smaller, so we didn't worry about controlling access to them anymore. Huh? Anyway, what's done is done. And if anyone read my live blog of the Focus event last week, you'll remember that this obliviousness to the importance of protecting data is widespread, according to Dan Dunkel:
“One major concern is that $200 billion annually in intellectual property theft is occuring. U.S. doesn’t manufacture much anymore. It’s our technology and intelligence, and it’s getting ripped off by the Chinese, the Russians, the Israelis, the French. It’s a huge, huge problem.
Sure, intellectual theft can happen via hacking, but it can also happen via someone walking off with your laptop. This is why it's not surprising to me that every time I ask about biometrics, integrators tell me they sell most biometric access systems for the protection of data centers and data rooms. The data needs protecting more than anything else the facility. As in, from GCN:
True, breaches caused by hackers can generate huge losses and big headlines. The recent hacking of Heartland Payment Systems Inc. potentially exposed data from hundreds of millions of online transactions a month for an untold number of compromised persons. But don’t ignore the physical risks. One of the largest government data breaches occurred with the 2006 theft of a Veterans Affairs laptop containing records of more than 26 million persons. That incident has cost the VA $20 million in a settling a class action suit.
I'm not sure why people are just making this connection now, but it's worth reiterating, so kudos to GCN for putting it out there to their readership.

Robbie Murray dead at 61

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
This sad news arrived from Potter Electric Signal Company on Friday. I thought I'd share it as many of you knew Robbie Murray.
It is with great sadness that Potter Electric Signal Company, LLC announces that Robinson ‘Robbie’ P. Murray, Age 61, passed away on Thursday, February 5, 2009 at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. Robbie was hired by Potter in May 2008 as Global Product Training Manager for the Fire and Security Division. Prior to Potter, Robbie held several key roles within the industry over the last 25 years. These roles included 10 years as ADT Security System’s Manager of Fire Design and 11 years as Cooper Wheelock’s Director of Global Business Marketing “We were extremely fortunate to have of Robbie as a part of the Potter family, even if it was only for a brief time.” says Hugh Blair, V.P. of Potter’s Fire and Security Division. “Robbie had such an extensive understanding of the product and people and will be missed greatly both as a colleague and friend.” says Blair. Robbie is remembered by many as living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment with his family and friends. Robbie is survived by his devoted wife, Barbara Sue (nee-Sabatino) and his loving daughter, Ashleigh

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