What do the FBI and Security Integrators Have in Common?

As I was making the (long) drive into the office this morning, I heard this headline on NPR: “About a third of the FBI agents working on cyber investigations lack the networking and counterintelligence expertise to investigate national security intrusions.”

And it struck me that this lack of training mirrored a problem affecting another part of the security industry. When IP technology came along, making it possible to put oh so many devices on the network, it caused a great shift in the industry.  Everything from fire alarms to access control can be linked in to an organization’s central network, and that’s not even including those ubiquitous IP cameras.

But despite the superhuman coordination the network can bring, it also brings with it a world of problems. Integrators must learn an entire new skill set, not to mention develop a new business model to suit the particulars of costlier IP products. In short, it could be very easy to get left behind, much as the FBI appears to have been with cybersecurity.

It appears that the FBI, like some integrators, is stuck in its old way of doing things, rotating agents among different enforcement areas so they get a variety of experience. And while that may work for homicides, it does not work so well for cybersecurity, which requires specialized training of how to use the network.

Integrators, though, are at a distinct advantage: They have free agency and can simply decide to make the switch. The FBI, on the other hand, must deal with the drag of many decision-makers and of federal oversight. The process of remedying this problem is not a simple decision to gain more skills; it will involve negotiations, agreements and a whole lot of talking.

So next time you are facing an IP video installation that seems insurmountably complicated, be thankful you don’t have the federal government looking over your shoulder, because it would be even more complex.

Posted by Laura Williams on Apr 29, 2011

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