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SIA unveils new Center of Excellence

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Security Industry Association (SIA) has unveiled the new SIA Center of Excellence, a member-driven learning consortium for education, research and training resources serving the security industry. This online repository of vendor-neutral, vetted information includes easy-to-access, on-demand learning and development tools and resources like training courses, e-learning modules, webinars and articles created to improve individual, team and organizational performance.

“The SIA Center of Excellence was created to foster security industry expertise and help SIA members and the entire security ecosystem stay at the forefront of evolving market demands,” SIA CEO Don Erickson said in the announcement. “This new learning tool will help provide tangible value to our members and help raise the industry’s level of professionalism and knowledge.”

SIA Center of Excellence content is organized by category and type and can easily be searched to find the most appropriate resources and learning tools.

“In addition to creating a centralized learning and development environment where industry stakeholders can access high-quality educational resources, the SIA Center of Excellence is a collaborative space where member organizations can contribute training content and share best practices,” said Dr. Elli Voorhees, director of education and training at SIA. “We encourage SIA members to get involved with this exciting new initiative by submitting content for consideration and help us in growing the future of workforce development in our industry.”

To learn more about the SIA Center of Excellence or become a contributing member, please contact Elli Voorhees at [email protected] or 301-804-4798.

Formjacking, a newer way of stealing personal data online

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cyber Security Awareness Month is in full swing; social media is buzzing with extremely helpful content and resources, mostly of which is free to help businesses and individuals gain and stay in control of their digital worlds. As the saying goes, “you learn something new every day,” or you should. Through social media related to #NCSAM, #cybersecurityawarenessmonth and #BeCyberAware, I heard about a newer way hackers are stealing data – formjacking.

I knew the term “jacking” meant stealing, but combing it with the word “form,” it could mean a variety of things, so I reached out to my friends at the Security Industry Association (SIA) for some guidance. 

“Formjacking is the injection of malicious code into a seemingly trustworthy website form that relays a copy of the field inputs to an attacker,” Joe Gittens, director of standards, SIA, explained. “In these cases, the victim’s transaction with the trust source is not interrupted; however, information from the from, which could include sensitive data, is relayed to the attacker.” 

That literally gave me chills. I can’t speak for you, but I know I have filled out at least hundreds of forms in my digital life; reflecting back over my past 20 years, there’s no telling what data I’ve shared. And, with formjacking, here’s the kicker – there are no red flags for the average online user to look for. 

“Unlike with spoofing and phishing, there are very few tell-tale signs that a form has been compromised,” Min Kyriannis, head, technology business development, Jaros, Baum & Bolles and member of SIA’s Cybersecurity Advisory Board. In fact, the only way to detect formjacking is looking at the code, “and, unless you’re trained, it’s hard to detect,” Gittens said. 

It looks like the regular, every day Joe who is going online and filling out forms has absolutely no way of knowing his data could be at risk, although end users can self-sabotage through installing browser plug-ins, Gittens said. Therefore, it’s mainly up to the company behind the online form to ensure people and their data are protected. 

“Companies need to ensure that all software, plug-ins and any third-party applications or extensions have been vetted and check for vulnerabilities,” Kyriannis advised. “These need to be continuously checked, since software is constantly being updated.” 

It amazes me how smart cybercriminals/hackers truly are, and it’s important to never underestimate them. Think about it in these terms: once a threat is recognized and identified by the “good guys,” the “bad guys” have already moved on “looking for more covert ways to harvest data,” Gittens said, in a way that’s the “easiest to hide and what’s most lucrative” for them,” added Kyriannis.

Gittens identified partner trust as key and noted that formjacking can and has affected large and mom-and-pop institutions. “Just like with other attacks, understanding exactly what type of privileges a third-party service has on your website or your browser and only allowing the most trusted services into your ecosystem can help protect you and your business. Also, be careful about what types of information you are collecting in forms in case you are attacked. If you don’t have to collect sensitive data, don’t do it – contract a trusted third party to perform the transaction for you who has better security protocols in place and can provide you and your customers with assurances. The SIA Cybersecurity Advisory Board will soon look to provide guidance on how security stakeholders can foster more trust within the device and application ecosystem.”

Kyriannis concurs that trust is key, but “people with malicious intent will always find new ways to sneak under the radar. The industry must lead in brining awareness to their clients, customers, etc., and self-awareness is critical – for end users, that means setting up security parameters for themselves,” such as tagging credit cards to constantly monitor charges. 

Formjacking Key Takeways

  1. Any and all information shared via an online form is at risk of being stolen. 
  2. The only way to detect formjacking is to look at the code. 
  3. Ensure software, plug-ins and any third-party applications or extensions have been vetted and regularly check for vulnerabilities.
  4. Understand the exact privileges a third-party service has on your website/browser. 
  5. If you don’t have to collect sensitive data, don’t. 
  6. Set up security parameters for yourself.

SecurityNext education program unveiled

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Security Systems News is very excited to announce the education program for SecurityNext, which will be held in New Orleans, Feb. 9-11, 2020 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

The overriding theme for the conference, “Securing Profits in the Age of Convergence” speaks to the seismic shift that has been going on in physical security with the emergence of IT and IoT, and cybersecurity as a result.

The truth is, the world of security is getting so much larger and more expansive, providing both challenges and opportunities for everyone, whether you are a systems integrator/dealer, consultant, end user or manufacturer. Toward that goal, SecurityNext was designed to help you navigate, leverage and profit from the latest technologies, trends and products to stay ahead of the competition and improve your bottom line.

To put together the program for SecurityNext, SSN enlisted the help of some of top thought leaders in the industry to be on the conference advisory board and help to advise on and provide ideas for the program. The result is sessions like:
•    The Race to Identity: Protecting in the Age of Privacy;
•    Securing Profits in the Age of Convergence and Compliance;
•    Systems Integrator Focus: How to Stay Relevant and Profitable;
•    How the Cloud is Changing Everything in Security; and
•    Building a RMR Business Model: Monetizing from the Consumerization of Security.

And, last but not least, the “End User Mega Panel” will feature security pros from Mastercard, Biogen, American Electric Power and the Air Force Insider Threat Hub. This one-of-a-kind panel will be led by Andrew Lanning, co-founder of Integrated Security Technologies, and this year’s recipient of the SIA Jay Hauhn Excellence in Partnerships Award. This will be a good one!

Beyond the panel discussions, we have industry thought leaders leading discussions on topics ranging from the cloud to company culture. For example, Steve Van Till, President and CEO of Brivo — and this year’s SIA George R. Lippert Memorial Award winner — will present a session called “The Cloud Won. Now What?” and Chris Peckham, COO, Building Intelligence Inc. will present “Making Sense of Security in the Cloud.”

Other notable presentations include “Security by the Numbers: A Financial Forecast and Guide” from John E. Mack III, Executive Vice President, Co-Head of Investment Banking, Imperial Capital, and “The Secret Sauce to Success: How Top Companies Bridge the Gap from Good to Great” from SSN class of 2016 “20 under 40” winner Amanda Utter, senior account manager, VTI.

Oh, and let’s not forget the two amazing keynotes lined up: SecurityNext opening keynote, “Realizing the Dream of AI, IoT and Smart Cities” will be presented by Sameer Sharma, Global GM for IoT Solutions for Intel, who will look at how IoT, AI and ICT (5G) can create a data-centric opportunity for Smart Cities beyond just public safety, showing how leveraging more than just camera/vision sensors can produce something far more comprehensive and predictive.

And for our day two keynote, I am ecstatic to have George Barlow Brown, Information Technology Manager for the New Orleans Real Time Crime Center (RTCC). In addition to providing a unique look into the development, challenges and successes of the award-winning crime center that opened in 2017, attendees will have an opportunity to tour the RTCC to cap off the conference on day two.

In addition to soaking up all of this education and checking out the latest products and services in the exhibit portion of the show, there will be plenty of time to network, unwind and celebrate. For instance, the SSN “40 under 40” award reception on the evening of Feb. 10 is always an amazing night, providing a chance to rub elbows with the next generation of security professionals.

Hope to see you in the Big Easy in February!

9 tips to stay cyber safe while traveling

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

As October presents itself in terms of pumpkin-spiced “everything,” cooler temps, colorful leaves, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) (ICYMI – we are 2019 Champions) and the announcement of SecurityNext’s program, Fall is a whirlwind of excitement! This time of year also reminds me of the extensive travel that takes place to family and friends’ homes for holiday gatherings, industry conferences and other work trips, vacations and the like. And, since the world is so hyper-connected, it is critical and crucial that everyone plans for and takes cybersecurity action when traveling. 

Based on information provided by National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), an online resource for cybersecurity training that connects government employees, students, educators and industry with cybersecurity training providers throughout the nation, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, and in honor of our SecurityNext conference, February 9-11, 2020 at the Royal Sonesta in NOLA, and NCSAM, here are some tips to keep yourself, family and friends safe before and during travel:

Before Travel

Update mobile software. Keep the operating system software, web browsers and apps updated will improve your device’s ability to defend against malware. Sign up for and/or turn on automatic updates; set security software to run regular scans; and use anti-virus software.

Back up information. Put contacts, financial data, photos, videos and other mobile data onto another device or external hard drive, or in the cloud. 

Keep devices under lock (and key). Lock your device when you’re not using it; it only takes a few minutes for someone to steal/destroy your data. Set devices to automatically lock after a short time; use strong PINs and passwords. (This is a cool video from HABITU8 for establishing passphrases!) 

Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for email, banking, social media and other services that require logging in. Enable MFA on trusted mobile devices, an authenticator app or a secure token (a small physical device that you can hook onto your key ring, for example.) 

During Travel

No auto-connecting. Disable remote connectivity and Bluetooth to prevent wirelessly connecting automatically to other devices — headphones, automobile infotainment systems, etc. Be choosey when deciding which wireless and Bluetooth networks to connect to. 

Think before connecting. Before connecting to any public wireless hotspot, confirm the network name and exact login procedures with appropriate staff. Your personal hotspot is usually a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi, and only use sites that begin with “https://”.

Play hard to get with strangers. If an email looks “phishy,” do not respond or click on any links or attachments. Use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from the sender. 

Never click and tell. Limit the type of information shared on social media and other online places. Keep your full name, address, birthday and vacation plans private, and disable location services. Before posting pictures, make sure there is nothing in it to identify your location such as an address on a building, a street sign, the name of a business, etc. 

Physically guard mobile devices. Never leave devices or components, such as USBs or external hard drives, alone and keep them secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes and in hotel rooms, lock them up in the commonly provided safe if you don’t want to lug them around with you.

Maureen Carlo named 2019 recipient of the SIA Progress Award

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The first thought that popped into my head when hearing about Maureen Carlo, director of strategic alliances – North America at BCDVideo, named as the recipient of this year’s SIA Progress Award: “It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving, humble and truly amazing individual.” 

Carlo and I met my first year in the industry – back in 2010-ish. After an encounter on Twitter and several tweets later, we became fast social media pals. Then, serendipitously, at my second ISC West in a rather obscure hallway, off the beaten path of the show, we found ourselves walking toward each other. Carlo recognized me and said, “Ginger?” And, I literally screamed, “Maureen!” as we gave each other a hug, having met for the first time in person. Since that moment, I have proudly called her my friend. (See how social media can bring people together?) 

It is truly an honor to be writing about Carlo, an industry veteran whose 15-year tenure includes roles at BCDVideo, Videotec Security, NeuEon, Venture Communications & Security and Wells Communication. Through her work in the industry and her seemingly magical way of building strong relationships with others, Carlo has developed an international reputation as a strategic electronic security and integrated systems leader. 

Carlo is dedicated to the advancement of SIA’s mission and serves as committee co-chair of the SIA Women in Security Forum, in which I, too, am a member. (I was so honored when Carlo presented me a membership pin and bag at ISC West at the Women in Security Forum’s breakfast!) Her passion for diversity and inclusivity in the security industry is inspiring, as she helps guide SIA’s efforts in engaging security professionals to promote, recruit and cultivate the leadership of women. 

“Joining SIA offered me the opportunity to connect with the most prestigious leaders in our industry, and together we have created a movement with the Women in Security Forum that is engaging and influencing our integrated security world through diversity and inclusivity,” Carlo said in the announcement. “I am inspired by this award and awed by the honor of receiving the 2019 SIA Progress Award. When we are dedicated to championing others and recognize values, vulnerability, courage and grit as part of the process, our partnerships and participation grow – the effects are force multipliers in bettering our workforce and advancing the next generation of our converged physical and cybersecurity industry.” 

Recent activities in which she helped organize and present lively networking and professional growth include a breakfast at ISC West 2019 and happy hour at GSX 2019; moderator of the ISC West session, “Being a Woman Business Owner in the Security Industry is an Advantage, Not a Disadvantage,” and panelist in the ISC East session, “Strategies for Successful Leadership in the Security Industry.” 

“SIA is thrilled to present the 2019 SIA Progress Award to Maureen Carlo in recognition of her strong dedication to furthering the growth of women in the security industry,” Don Erickson, CEO, SIA said. “Her enthusiastic efforts to elevate women in security through outreach, engagement and leadership have helped to grow the forum and shed light on challenges women face in the industry.” 

SIA’s Progress Award recognizes SIA members who have shown excellence in their advancement of opportunities and success for women in the security industry. Recipients are determined based on their contributions to fostering women in the industry, promotion of women’s professional growth though mentorship and/or sponsorship, recognitions and awards for activities and demonstration of the highest levels of professionalism and integrity in the industry. 

SIA will present Carlo with her award during SIA Honors Night, November 20, in New York City.

 

Brinks Home Security teaming with Mission 500 for annual 5K

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Brinks Home Security is teaming with Mission 500 for the company’s fourth annual Brinks Home Security 5K on Saturday, Oct.19, 2019, in Farmers Branch, Texas. Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit children attending Farmers Branch Elementary, Habitat for Humanity Dallas, and children living in poverty across the United States.

Last year’s Brinks Home Security 5K raised more than $52,000 and benefitted children at Farmers Branch Elementary, in addition to helping families displaced by the Northern California fires, and students attending a Title One School in Boynton Beach, FL. In addition, Brinks was named the Primary Sponsor of the Lighthouse Program, which benefits Title One Schools in Houston, Texas.

In speaking with Brinks Home Security President and Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Gardner, for my article on Mission 500 earlier this year, he told me that he first heard of Mission 500 at ISC West when he participated in the Security 5K/2K and became inspired by what the organization was doing to help children and families in need.

“When I heard about Mission 500, and what George Fletcher and others there were trying to do to unite the industry around a single effort, I decided to get really involved as the CEO of one of the national security players,” Gardner told SSN. “I wanted to do something similar, in addition to the Security 5K and to really try to assist George and Mission 500. Helping families and children in need is something that has always been important to me. So starting a Brinks Home Security 5K was something that we needed to do and that we have really benefitted from as a company."

Tom Nolan, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Mission 500, said that Brinks Home Security continues to step up to plate in support of Mission 500.

 “Our ability to help children and families in need would not be possible without annual events such as the Brinks Home Security 5K,” Nolan said. “Proceeds from this event have made a positive difference in many lives, and we are proud to work with Brinks Home Security again this year.”

The race is open to people of all ages. Participants can register now and see more information here. Registration is only $30 until Sept. 29, then $35 afterward. Cash prizes and trophies are planned for the top finishers in several categories.

Mission 500, a nonprofit charitable organization that works closely with the security industry to serve the needs of children and communities in crisis, is once again partnering with Brinks Home Security for this year’s event. Corporate sponsorships are available at the Platinum, Gold and Silver levels, and in-kind sponsorships (product donations) are also encouraged. Sponsor benefits include a table at the event, company logo on event marketing materials, verbal recognition, and the opportunity to increase the sponsor’s profile within the local community.

For more information on Mission 500 or on how to become involved in supporting Mission 500, contact Tom Nolan at [email protected], or call 631.219.8728.
 

Andrew Lanning wins Jay Hauhn award

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

I was very excited to hear the news that Andrew Lanning, co-founder of Integrated Security Technologies, has been selected by the Security Industry Association (SIA) as the 2019 recipient of the Jay Hauhn Excellence in Partnerships Award, an annual distinction recognizing leadership in security industry collaboration.

As a personal note, I am not surprised at all as Andrew is everything that is right about the security industry. I have seen in just my 3-plus years in the industry how much he gives back to make this industry better and to raise the profession of security professional to greater heights. I am looking forward to celebrating with him and others when Andrew is recognized at SIA Honors Night Nov. 20 in New York City.

Congrats Andrew!

In addition to working tirelessly to help integrators within PSA, Lanning serves as a member of SIA’s Cybersecurity Advisory Board, which guides SIA members ahead of potential cybersecurity issue related to physical security measures. He also holds a board of directors position with — and serves as the defense industrial base sector chief for — the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s InfraGard Hawaii Members Alliance.

“Andrew Lanning has consistently advocated for industry collaboration, including between SIA’s manufacturer members and PSA Security Network, best seen through his vocal support for joint programming like Cyber:Secured Forum,” SIA CEO Don Erickson said in the announcement. “SIA applauds Andrew’s leadership in fostering industry partnerships and looks forward to presenting him with this prestigious, well-deserved award at SIA Honors Night.”

Lanning also serves as a defense industrial base representative on the PSA Security Network’s Cyber Security Committee, participates in the UL Cybersecurity Standards Technical Panel for Software Cybersecurity for Networking-Connectible Products, previously served on the board of directors of the Hawaii Information, Communication and Technology Association and is a member of the Rotary Club of Hickam Pearl Harbor. He is an active member of the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation and the host of Security Matters: Hawaii, a community-based webcast.

“I would like to accept this award and thank SIA, PSA and especially both organizations’ cybersecurity committee members, past and present, for continuing to drive our vision of the electronic security industry as a reliable cybersecurity supply chain partner to our country’s critical infrastructure operators, government agencies and the U.S. Department of Defense,” said Lanning.

Lanning has encouraged organizations such as InfraGard to participate in SIA’s cybersecurity education offerings and served as an active member of the SIA and Electronic Security Association task force that successfully recommended a joint strategy to help members identify, recruit and retain qualified employees for a variety of professional roles within manufacturer and integrator businesses.

The Jay Hauhn Excellence in Partnerships Award is named in honor of security industry veteran Jay Hauhn. During his tenure as SIA’s chairman of the board, Hauhn demonstrated a steadfast commitment to fostering cooperation among industry trade associations, and this award recognizes a leader who embodies that spirit of collaboration in the industry.

SIA Honors Night — held each year concurrently with ISC East, the Northeast’s largest security trade show — features a gala dinner reception, an awards ceremony recognizing industry leaders and engaging entertainment. Along with presenting the Hauhn Award, SIA will also honor industry leaders at the 2019 Honors Night with the George R. Lippert Memorial Award, the SIA Insightful Practitioner Award and the SIA Progress Award sponsored by SIA’s Women in Security Forum.
 

Security Systems News recognized as a 2019 NCSAM Champion Organization

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

As the saying goes, “it takes a village,” and nothing is farther from the truth when confronting cybersecurity. It will literally take everyone working together to combat cyber risks and threats. As more and more organizations take the necessary steps to become and stay cyber safe, these same and other organizations are reaching out and showing their support of various campaigns centered around cyber. 

And, now an important announcement … drum roll please!

As of this blog post, Security Systems News is proud to be the only security industry publication recognized as a 2019 Champion Organization of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) co-led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Cybersecurity and infrastructure Agency (CISA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

In just five days, October will be here, the month of ghouls and goblins, candy and trick-or-treating, and perhaps most importantly, NCSAM, a collaborative effort among businesses, government agencies, colleges and universities, associations, nonprofit organizations and individuals to be committed to this year’s NCSAM overarching team of “Own It. Secure It. Protect It.” This theme serves as encouragement to everyone to #BeCyberSmart through personal accountability and proactive behavior in security best practices and digital privacy.

“Cybersecurity is important to the success of all businesses and organizations,” Kelvin Coleman, executive director, NCSA, said. “NCSA is proud to have such a strong and active community helping to encourage proactive behavior and prioritize cybersecurity in their organizations.” 

So, what does this amazing news mean for you, our amazing readers? Well, throughout the month of October, we will provide you with the latest and greatest tips, discussion topics, free resources, videos, quizzes and more to ensure you are cybersafe!  

To gain access to these must-have tools, be sure to: 

  1. Follow SSN Managing Editor, Ginger Hill, on Twitter @SSN_Ginger; 
  2. If you miss any tweets, search on Twitter using #SSNTalks to see all our previous tweets.
  3. Follow SSN/SecurityNext on LinkedIn; and 
  4. Follow SSN on Facebook

When you see our posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, be sure to comment, using #SSNTalks and #BeCyberSmart, like and share! We will respond to all comments! 

Everyone here at SSN is super excited to be a 2019 NCSAM Champion and to join in the fight for cybersecurity!

Mission 500 Security Softball Game raises more than $40k

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

It probably wasn’t the best idea for me — physically speaking, that is — to try and play 7 innings (no snickering!) of softball this past Sunday in support of the Mission 500 Security Softball Game, held on a beautiful day in Overpeck Park, New Jersey.


That realization was driven home (no pun intended) late in the game when I had to score all the way from first base, which is tougher than it sounds (again, no snickering). As I high-fived my teammates and gasped for air entering the dugout, I promised that if I survived I would write about how rewarding it was to help support such a great organization as Mission 550, which organized another successful charity event to help families and children in need.

All told, more than $41,000 was raised and 400 children living in severe poverty in the South Bronx received backpacks filled with school supplies. The backpacks were assembled over the course of the day, with the opportunity to include a note of encouragement and inspiration to the children who would be receiving these backpacks. One of the things I wrote, “don’t be afraid to dream big,” for me speaks to the goal of Mission 500 — to help level the playing field for those who are less fortunate.
 
The day before, security industry executives also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Paterson, framing walls and pouring concrete for two families in need as part of a community build project.

In addition, $2,500 was donated to the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation Children’s Camp, a non-for-profit dedicated to the advancement of burn care, research, prevention, education, and the proper treatment of burns. This organization sends burn victims under the age of 18 to a camp where they can come together and put their scars aside, while having fun at summer camp. Mission 500said it is “proud to support the camp for a third year in a row.”

Tom Nolan, Mission 500’s Director Strategic Partnerships, told me during the day that he was “very pleased” with the turnout for the Habitat for Humanity build and the charity softball game, and was excited about the number of people already committed to participating in the Mission 500 Service Trip to Puerto Rico, Oct. 9-13.

Security industry professionals looking to support Mission 500 can help by joining or making a donation towards this year’s service trip to Puerto Rico, volunteering to help with the Security 5K/2K at ISC West 2020, participating in a teambuilding event with their colleagues or customers, or by making financial donations.

At the charity softball game this past Sunday, American Security was the sponsor that raised the most funds, and was joined by the following sponsors for the event: Alarm Shield, Altronix, American Security, Anixter, Assa Abloy, Axis Communications, Beacon Protection, Criticom Monitoring Services, Dahua USA, DMP, ESA New Jersey Chapter, Hikvision USA, ISC Events, Ken Gould Consulting, Lensec, LRG Marketing, M2M Services, Napco StarLink, NYFAA, Rapid Response, ScanSource, Security Sales & Integration, Security Systems News, Security Today and Statewide Monitoring.

It was great to support and be a part of such a great day of giving back and having some fun. Not to gloat, but my team, the Protection Pirates, won 21-16, over the Security Sluggers, in a hard-fought game that ended in hand shakes and smiles, and personally speaking, a few scrapes, bruises and sore muscles.

Hope to see you all on the field next year! Click here for more on Mission 500.

The debate continues: do video doorbells invade privacy?

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

As a security journalist, I hate to admit that I’m a bit torn on the whole privacy vs. security of video doorbells and whether it’s unethical or not. I mean, I should take a stand, right? Either I support video doorbells or I don’t but, I really do see both sides of this hot debate. 

Here’s an example: My mom lives alone and is a very spry 73-year-old who is quite capable of looking through the peephole of her door to see who’s knocking on it. However, should someone cover her peephole, having a video doorbell, enabling her to see exactly who is at her door before she opens it, and record them, especially if they plan on causing some type of harm, I see is a must. 

But at the same time, let’s say a Girl Scout or Boy Scout rang my mom’s doorbell to sell cookies or popcorn. In my opinion, recording them, or any child for that matter, is very unethical and a huge invasion of privacy, unless, of course, the parents know and give permission. 

To my knowledge there isn’t a video doorbell (yet) that can – with 100 percent accuracy – distinguish between adults who intend to do harmful acts and children. At this point, it just seems video doorbells are an all-or-nothing device that are causing some major disruption.  

A recent ABC news story highlighted attorney, David Barnett, who specializes in privacy law. Barnett suggested letting people know they are under surveillance if using a video doorbell, and take into consideration that these cameras are aimed at property, with the expectation that places such as backyards, windows and bathrooms are private. But, even if the camera is aimed at the front of a home and let’s say children are outside playing in the camera’s recording range, recording them is wrong and what if that camera got hacked? Hackers would then be able to see those children. 

There are also the terms of service of the video doorbell manufacturers that puts a lot of the responsibility on the person installing the device. Ring’s, for example, says, “Privacy and other laws applicable in your jurisdiction may impose certain responsibilities on you and your use of the Products and Services. You agree that it is your responsibility, and not the responsibility of Ring, to ensure that you comply with any applicable laws …” (I’m quite sure people aren’t allowed to point cameras at public streets or into their neighbor’s yards, for example, which if done, can lead to privacy invasion, but where is the responsibility of the manufacturers of these products?)

Then, of course, there’s apps being connected to these video doorbells. Not to pick on Ring, but its new app, Neighbors – where most posts are captured videos – could expose people to a whole new level of privacy invasion, taking the old-school “nosey neighbor” to the extreme. Again, in Ring’s terms of service, it says: “You are solely responsible for all Content that you upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise disseminate using, or in connection with, the Products or Services …” And, again, I ask, shouldn’t the manufacturers of video doorbells take on at least some of the responsibility?

Overall, this topic is a tough one, filled with “ifs, ands and buts,” amazing use cases where lives were saved and the possibility of privacy invasion. This makes me want to subscribe to the old-school method of using the peephole, and if it’s covered, asking “who’s there,” and if there’s no answer, not answering the door. 

What are your thoughts on video doorbells and privacy? Let’s talk about it on Twitter @SSN_Ginger or email me directly at [email protected]

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