Subscribe to Monitor This! RSS Feed

Monitor This!

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

To survive, adapt. Those words have become an industry maxim of late. A similar sentiment holds true for those in the standards writing arena who strive to stay current with the technological arc of the industry.

The CP-01 Working Group, a special group of the SIA Intrusion Subcommittee, this week unveiled a false alarm reduction standard that includes definitions for remote devices and updated language, stemming from requests for interpretation from the last update of the standard, completed in 2010.  

Called the ANSI/SIA CP-01-2014, the updated standard is intended for use by manufacturers in the design of control panels and alarm signal receivers, and for reference by security system installers, specifiers, central station operators and manufacturers of central station-related products.

“As technology continues to evolve, it is important that we keep this useful standard up to date with it,” Lou Fiore, chairman of the CP-01 Working Group, said in a prepared statement. “Increasingly, panels are being armed and disarmed using remote devices including smartphones and tablets, we thought it was time to address that in CP-01.”

Revisions to the CP-01 standard have been made over the past two decades in response to technological evolution in the sphere of false alarm reduction. According to a SIA statement, CP-01-compliant panels have been instrumental in reducing false alarms by as much as 90 percent, saving municipalities and responders time and money.

For the next few years, the updated standard will presumably be the measuring stick for due diligence as far as minimizing false alarms. But as anyone in the industry can attest, technological development is unpredictable, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see this “keystone” CP-01 standard updated again in the next five years. As the industry adapts, so too must its best practices and standards.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Security Industry Association has long championed the value of public-private partnerships in the security industry, and a new annual honor given out by the association makes those advocacy efforts abundantly clear.

The Security Industry Association recently announced it will present the first annual Jay Hauhn Excellence in Partnerships Award at SIA Honors Night on Nov. 19, at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York.

The inaugural award, honoring Jay Hauhn, Tyco Integrated Security’s chief technology officer and VP of industry relations, has two recipients: Mike Howard of tech giant Microsoft, and Tom Cellucci of Cellucci and Associates.

Howard, according to a statement from SIA, has been instrumental in forging a collaborative relationship between SIA and the International Security Management Association, a prominent end user organization. Cellucci is being honored for dedicating time to “building a relationship between SIA and the County Executives of America,” according to a SIA statement. He also helped encourage collaboration between SIA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.

The annual award is intended for individuals working with SIA member companies who “strengthened collaboration between the association and the industry or end user organizations,” the statement noted. Forms of collaboration could include efforts that pursue common public policy priorities, active involvement in the development of SIA standard proposals, spurring SIA membership growth and leveraging SIA’s educational expertise at conferences or through online education efforts.

“I’m pleased to receive this award, but I’m more pleased to help make vital connections between the security suppliers of SIA and the security practitioners of ISMA,” said Howard. “The alliance between the two organizations will go a long way toward keeping Chief Security Officers informed of advancements in technology as well as providing insights to corporate executives as to the challenges facing Chief Security Officers.”

SIA members possess valuable security industry expertise and experience, while public sector organizations are responsible for the development of detailed operational requirements to ensure the protection of our nation’s people and assets. It’s only reasonable that the public and private sectors work together—in and open and transparent way—to enable our country’s Homeland Security Enterprise to work more efficiently and effectively.”

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More companies will soon be able to reap the benefits of the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol, as the CSAA moves into its next stage of deployment by extending the program to non-charter members.

So far, the 100 CSAA members that have helped fund the program have been able to contract and connect to the system, which is designed to increase the efficiency and reliability of emergency electronic signals form central stations to Public Safety Answering Points, commonly known as PSAPs. In total, 42 companies have contracted for connection, though some do business in areas that do not yet have an active PSAP.

Currently, seven PSAPs are enrolled in the ASAP program, with Washington, D.C. and Houston representing the largest urban areas. In a recent press release, the CSAA said it expects to add Boston and Seattle to the mix in the coming year, along with the entire state of Delaware.

In August, Romeoville, Ill.-based Protection 1 became the largest participant to go live with the ASAP to PSAP program. Ed Bonifas, co-chair of CSAA’s ASAP steering committee, said in a prepared statement that Protection 1’s coming online would add “considerable traffic to the participating PSAPs.”

Later that month, Guardian Protection Services, based in Warrendale, Pa., in conjunction with the CSAA announced it was coming online with the program in Richmond, Va., where it has a solid presence. Jason Bradley, director of central station operations at Guardian, told me that implementation in Washington, D.C. was the next step.

It’s no exaggeration to say broader adoption of the ASAP to PSAP program will transform the industry, making signal transmission a faster and more informative process. To be sure, the program is expanding at a steady pace, and I imagine it’ll be sooner than we think before dealers are going to expect centrals, where possible, to join the ranks.

by: Leif Kothe - Monday, August 25, 2014

General George W. Casey, the 36th chief of staff of the U.S. Army, will deliver the keynote address at the CSAA Annual Meeting, slated for Oct. 17-22 at the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda.

Casey, who led the U.S. Army from April 2007 to 2011, commanded from 2007 to 2007 a multi-national force in Iraq, guiding a coalition of more than 30 countries through some of the most difficult stretches of the Iraq war, a news release from CSAA noted.

“General Casey has a unique story to share with our members,” Steve Doyle, CSAA EVP, said in the release. “His background and experience have formed the basis for his viewpoints on leadership, vision, organizational culture and leading transformational change. I know our members will be impressed with his insights and how they can use them to improve their own businesses.”

Since retiring from his post with the U.S. Army, Casey has lectured on leadership at Columbia, Yale, Denver University and the University of North Carolina business school, while also addressing a number of large corporations.

In addition to the keynote, the education sessions will focus on several themes germane to the monitoring world. Seminars on the schedule will deal with the rise of DIY and self-monitoring systems, monitoring and the Internet of Things phenomenon, and the continued value of central station alarm monitoring.

In the release, CSAA president Jay Hauhn said senior leadership from the national Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) first responder associations will be present, giving members the chance to talk industry issues with them one on one.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Having written a report this week about SentryNet’s latest campaign to encourage dealers to add accounts and sell new services (while giving them the chance to earn tickets to a cruise), I came across news of another monitoring company making it a bit easier for dealers to do their jobs.

SecurTek, based in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, is offering customers air miles through a recently unveiled partnership with AIR MILES Reward Program. When customers sign standard monitoring contracts, they can now top-up their loyalty rewards tally to earn miles, according to a company statement.

New customers can earn 50 reward miles upon signing a 36- or 60-month contract, and then can earn an additional 50 reward miles on their contract anniversary date if they remain SecurTek customers.

Whether at events put on at industry tradeshows or through promotional campaigns, central stations go to great lengths not only to make dealers feel appreciated but to ensure they’re equipped with the knowledge they need to thrive in the current climate. It’s no surprise. In a boundary-less, IP-based environment where more and more centrals are looking to vault from regional players into national ones, competition is going to increase. As a result, central stations are going to explore new ways to engage dealers and stand out against competitors.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Security Electronics, a home and business security company based in Muskego, Wis., near Milwaukee, recently purchased the accounts of Milwaukee Dynamic Security, a company headquartered on the north end of the Milwaukee metro area.

In a news release from the Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group, which assisted Milwaukee Dynamic Security in the transaction, Don Larson, founder of Security Electronics, suggested the backyard account purchase will unite a pair of like-minded companies with similar regional roots.

The companies are also compatible on the technical level.  

“We both are in the same central monitoring facility and use much of the same equipment,” Larson noted in the release.

Jim Veith, owner of Milwaukee Dynamic, will remain with the company during the transition period, after which he plans to retire, the release noted.  

In the coming days I plan to connect with personnel at Security Electronics to discuss the implications of the deal, and how the backyard account purchase fits into the company’s near- and long-term strategies.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dynamark's adoption of Videofied is a further sign the company’s monitoring aspect, more than three years into its renaissance, is continuing to cement its presence in the central station space.  

The company is offering dealers video verification alarms through Videofied’s platform, allowing them to purchase and install the service through Dynamark’s product division, or add the platform to existing installations. The latter alternative will be welcome news to dealers, who have the opportunity to upgrade existing customers drawn to video verification.

In a news release, Dynamark president and CEO Trey Alter said both the product and the monitoring are available to the dealer through the same program. “This makes tech support and sales support virtually seamless, and that makes life easier and more profitable for our dealers,” Alter said in a prepared statement.

Dynamark Monitoring, launched in 2011, last year acquired Dayton, Ohio-based Security Services Center, which brought 40 alarm companies scattered across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky into its dealer network.

Later in 2013, the company also launched its partner program, a newly created unit led by Hank Groff, SVP of sales, designed to propel the company from a regional to a national player.

In the coming days I plan to get the skinny on the company’s new video verification effort, and to hear what else might be in store for the resurgent Hagerstown, Md.-based central.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tech publication Wired magazine may not focus too closely on alarm monitoring or residential security, but it does devote a good deal of ink to assessing network security threats, no matter what the context.

Just last month a writer for the magazine, Mat Honan, painted a funny dystopian sketch of the connected home in revolt, commandeered by morally wayward hackers on some perverse quest for Internet notoriety. Identifiable only by screen names evoking bad cyberpunk films from the 90s, these lonesome code junkies are intent on doing everything from dousing homes by activating sprinkler systems to invading your privacy in all the imaginable ways in a home amply stocked with network cameras.

The piece, titled “The Nightmare on Connected Home Street,” is of course meant to be hysterical: The narrator is jarred awake at four a.m. by the blaring pulse of dub step music exploding from his connected pillow. The vignette ends, a few hours later, with a bare and awesomely memorable paragraph: “The skylights open up. The toaster switches on. I hear the shower kick in from the other room. It’s morning.”

It’s all just a thought experiment, but the piece is entertaining and well worth a read.

Interestingly enough, about a month later, Wired turned its attention to security again, this time focusing on concerns that, surprisingly, have nothing to do with Internet connected devices. This time, the article dealt with security vulnerabilities related to wireless home alarms, which, according to a pair of researchers cited in the article, could be comprised—the alarm being either suppressed (via “jamming”) or made to deliver false signals. The researchers found identical problems with a number of brands.

The issue, according to the report, has to do with radio frequency signals. While the conversation is understandable for a layman, it can seem a bit arcane. In sum, the researchers found that the systems “fail to encrypt or authenticate the signals being sent from sensors to control panels,” according to the report, “making it easy for someone to intercept the data, decipher the commands, and play them back to control panels at will.” Would-be malefactors, the report says, can do this relatively easily.

The researchers cited in the article—Logan Lamb and Silvio Cesare—plan to present their findings at the Black Hat security conference, a computer security conference held in Las Vegas next week. I’m eager to here more about their findings and to see what kind of impact the research could have.  

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tech publication Wired magazine may not focus too closely on alarm monitoring or residential security, but it does devote a good deal of ink to assessing network security threats, no matter what the context.

Just last month a writer for the magazine, Mat Honan, painted a funny dystopian sketch of the connected home in revolt, commandeered by morally wayward hackers on some perverse quest for Internet notoriety. Identifiable only by screen names evoking bad cyberpunk films from the 90s, these lonesome code junkies are intent on doing everything from dousing homes by activating sprinkler systems to invading your privacy in all the imaginable ways in a home amply stocked with network cameras.

The piece, titled “The Nightmare on Connected Home Street,” is of course meant to be hysterical: The narrator is jarred awake at four a.m. by the blaring pulse of dub step music exploding from his connected pillow. The vignette ends, a few hours later, with a bare and awesomely memorable paragraph: “The skylights open up. The toaster switches on. I hear the shower kick in from the other room. It’s morning.”

It’s all just a thought experiment, but the piece is entertaining and well worth a read.

Interestingly enough, about a month later, Wired turned its attention to security again, this time focusing on concerns that, surprisingly, have nothing to do with Internet connected devices. This time, the article dealt with security vulnerabilities related to wireless home alarms, which, according to a pair of researchers cited in the article, could be comprised—the alarm being either suppressed (via “jamming”) or made to deliver false signals. The researchers found identical problems with a number of brands.

The issue, according to the report, has to do with radio frequency signals. While the conversation is understandable for a layman, it can seem a bit arcane. In sum, the researchers found that the systems “fail to encrypt or authenticate the signals being sent from sensors to control panels,” according to the report, “making it easy for someone to intercept the data, decipher the commands, and play them back to control panels at will.” Would-be malefactors, the report says, can do this relatively easily.

The researchers cited in the article—Logan Lamb and Silvio Cesare—plan to present their findings at the Black Hat security conference, a computer security conference held in Las Vegas next week. I’m eager to here more about their findings and to see what kind of impact the research could have.  

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tech publication Wired magazine may not focus too closely on alarm monitoring or residential security, but it does devote a good deal of ink to assessing network security threats, no matter what the context.

Just last month a writer for the magazine, Mat Honan, sketched a funny, dystopian picture of the connected home in revolt, commandeered by morally wayward hackers on some perverse quest for Internet notoriety. Identifiable only by screen names evoking bad 90s cyberpunk films, these lonesome code junkies are intent on doing everything from dousing homes by activating sprinkler systems to invading your privacy in all the imaginable ways in a home well stocked with cameras.

The piece, titled “The Nightmare on Connected Home Street,” is of course meant to be hysterical: The narrator is jarred awake at four a.m. by the pulse of dub step music exploding out of his connected pillow. The vignette ends, a few hours later, with a bare and awesomely memorable paragraph: “The skylights open up. The toaster switches on. I hear the shower kick in from the other room. It’s morning.”

It’s all just a thought experiment, but the piece is entertaining and well worth a read.

Interestingly enough, about a month later, Wired turned its attention to security again, this time focusing on concerns that, surprisingly, have nothing to do with Internet connected devices. This time, the article dealt with security vulnerabilities related to wireless home alarms, which, according to a pair of researchers cited in the article, could be comprised—the alarm being either suppressed (via “jamming”) or made to deliver false signals. The researchers found identical problems with a number of brands.

The issue, according to the report, has to do with radio frequency signals. While the conversation is understandable for a layman, it can seem a bit arcane. In sum, the researchers found that the systems “fail to encrypt or authenticate the signals being sent from sensors to control panels,” according to the report, “making it easy for someone to intercept the data, decipher the commands, and play them back to control panels at will.” Would-be malefactors, the report says, can do this relatively easily.

The researchers cited in the article—Logan Lamb and Silvio Cesare—plan to present their findings at the Black Hat security conference, a computer security conference held in Las Vegas next week. I’m eager to here more about their findings and to see what kind of impact the research could have.  

Pages