Darren Nix

Security Tip of the Month: Technology is Only One Part of the Security Equation

In the last few weeks there have been a series of breaches in airport security that have received national attention. In one particular case, which happened in Terminal C at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport, a man entered the "secure" side of the airport by walking the wrong way through a security checkpoint and suddenly disappearing. For the next several hours, all airport passengers were redirected through the TSA screening process, causing a lot of frustration—not to mention flight delays. One saying came to mind as people reacted to the story: "Technology alone provides a false sense of security."

Although I don't know all of the details of this specific breach, it has been reported that the video cameras were not operating properly despite there being video footage of the man entering through the exit. Some airports have installed camera systems with video analytic technology, which allows a specific video event to trigger an alarm. For example, if a person walks in the wrong direction of the camera's field of view, an alarm would alert security. Perhaps this was not working correctly. Nevertheless, we are led to believe it was a failure in technology.

It is important for us all to remember that security is subjective and is based on the philosophy of the organization, the assets that need to be protected and many other factors. Unlike a fire alarm system, which has a large variety of code requirements for different applications, security systems are designed to work in conjunction with the people and processes of a company. It is absolutely necessary to understand how security personnel (people) are going to operate and use the systems, and it is equally important to understand the procedures (processes) incorporated by the company. Ultimately, the technology merely complements the people and required procedures and should be tested on a regular basis. Remember, your security program relies on the people using the system as well as the processes and technology used.

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