Monday, June 23, 2008

Show me your papers!

I was reading about this guy who flew with no ID.

Now, the rule is, if you want to fly, you have to show ID. You don't have to show ID to the TSA, but if you don't, you don't get to fly.

I guess this makes sense. This has the very salutary effect of weeding out the stupid terrorists who aren't smart enough to get a fake ID.

Above: Osama's most deadliest weapon.

Heaven forbid the terrorists ever get their filthy paws on Photoshop.

But what if you forget or lose your ID? Sat, you went to Vegas for a convention, and mysteriously and through no fault of your own the dealer inexplicably failed to stop dealing you cards and you had a big bunch of tequila and you are now missing your wallet and, also, your pants. So, according to the article, they'll give you the full business, which includes signing a piece of paper stating, under penalty of perjury, that you are who you say you are. They also give you a pat down and check your luggage- big hairy deal, they did that to me in the airport in Israel. The most interesting thing to me is that the TSA supervisor called a "service"- the DMV?- to answer personal questions. That's it. Sounds easier than getting a credit card. Not that you'd know it from the amount of whining in the story and the comments- you'd have thought they sent him to Gitmo.

Anyway. I guess my point is 80% of security is keeping the stupid would-be bad guys away from your target. This is important because 80% of bad guys are unnacountably stupid.

But, don't forget that the more attractive your target is, the more bad guys are going to want a piece of it. And 20% of them will be smart. And you can't play the laws of averages forever.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Feel Good Security

According to this article, Delta Airlines will add registered traveler kiosks from Clear at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, as well as LAX.

That's fine, although this really won't do anything to make us safer.

The Registered Traveler program is a scam, although in the spirit of fairness I should mention that I do not believe that Verified Identity Pass employees consciously realize this. If you've been in a US airport lately, you've probably seen them; the way the Clear program works is you give them your driver's license number, previous home addresses going back five years, SSN or alien registration number, and a valid credit card. They then run your info past... somebody, and then do... something, and, after taking your picture and biometric data (fingerprints and iris images, for what it's worth) and taking your picture and noting your two forms of federal ID, they give you futuristicy little card. All this for a hundred bucks a year, plus a $28 bribe to the TSA.

Now, anyone who's been stuck in security screening purgatory would gladly shell out $128 to get through it a little quicker. But that presuposes that there is some way to tell someone is going to be a terrorist before they actually, you know, terrorize somebody. And that doesn't work. Would they have caught Mohammed Atta with routine security screening, or even the kind of screening they do now? I doubt it. I've thought of a trillion ways to get past airport security just in the time I've spent on security lines. The only things that have made air travel safer since 9/11 is, as Schneier says, 1) locking cockpit doors and 2) the understanding of ordinary passengers that they may have to be prepared to fight back (which is what stopped Reid, after all).

Everything else is security theater. Clear isn't about making us safer. Clear is about making lines shorter.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

IP Video Market May or May Not Suck This Year: Report

Much has been written about this report from IMS Research. The very depressing synopsis says that

(T)he market has got off to a slower start in 2008 and it seems unlikely that the market will grow as fast this year as it did last year.

The main reason for the slow-down is the struggling US economy, which narrowly avoided entering a recession in the first quarter of the year, recording a modest increase of just 0.9%. Economists are divided as to whether a recession will take hold in the second quarter of the year. In this current climate of economic uncertainty, many companies are delaying capital expenditure and several major security projects have been put on hold. The retail industry, which is the largest spender on video surveillance equipment in the US, has been particularly hard hit. Soaring energy and food prices, together with the credit crunch, have curbed consumer spending. In the first quarter of 2008 consumer spending rose just 1%, the slowest since the second quarter of 2001, when the US was suffering its last recession. As a result, many retailers are scaling back new store expansion plans which will impact sales of video surveillance equipment.

First off, I'm not sure that a 1% rate of growth constitutes a recession, especially with our low unemployment rate (nearly the same as the economic boom years of 1998, when Internet money was going to make everyone a billionaire). This is slightly better than England's, much better than France's, and much better than Germany's. Of course, this is a CCTV blog, not an economic blog, so I may be wrong. And of course no one can deny the subprime mortgage meltdown has slowed new construction a little, although according to this they've been falling for the past two years so I guess the new housing market crisis isn't so much a result of irresponsible subprime mortgage lending practices and more the result of the housing market being flooded and the law of Supply and Demand really is true.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is about a press release Axis emailed me yesterday.

It reads:

The market research institute IMS Research announced today in a press release that the growth for network video products on the American market has slowed down. This affects the ongoing technology shift from analog to digital surveillance negatively. For a number of years, IMS has forecast that the market for installations of network video products has an annual global growth rate of approximately 40 percent. IMS expects slower growth in 2008 than in the preceding year as a consequence of the receding American economy. However, their estimation is that network video products will grow by at least 30 percent in the US. Axis' ambition, as announced previously, is to grow in pace with the market.

The interest for network video products has been considerable during spring and the inflow of new projects continued to be satisfactory, but the current financial turbulence has impacted new investments and expansion plans. This has now affected growth in the network video market. "We have seen signals from the market, e.g. from the retail trade in Europe but particularly in the US where major retail chains have chosen not to expand as planned. As approximately 25 percent of all video installations are performed within the segment, we have drawn the conclusion that the pace of the technology shift from analog to digital network video has slowed down", says Ray Mauritsson, President, Axis Communications.

Emphasis added for emphasis. Because I feel empathetic. Like, what they heck, guys?

I mean, 30% projected growth in an industry is not a reason for sackcloth and ashes, it's a reason for champagne and caviar and big stinky cigars.

At least Geoff Kohl of SIW is optimistic. He quotes a Panasonic rep as saying that "they are still experiencing year-over-year growth in the company's i-Pro IP video surveillance products." This is true. I'm hardly a big player in the IP sales market, and I can't even keep the WV-NS202A in e-stock- it flies off the cybershelves. That's because we have found all sorts of other markets for IP video. Vloggers, for example. Webcasting of all kinds, in fact. I have a customer who uses the WV-NS202A to save video of performances in his nighclubs. He likes the autotracking and the audio input. Another customer has a bunch of Axis 207Ws set up in his apartment. He feeds it to his website for entertainment purposes, ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo.

Anyway, my point is, relax. IP video isn't going anywhere, and the US economy is in semi-decent shape, too.