Dan DunkelIs ‘Intellectual Security’ in Your Vocabulary?

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in SDM

There are a lot of definitions for the word “evolution,” but one constant element in all of them is “change.” Change, in a word, is the mantra for the next generation of security integrators because the nature of security has changed. The message to the physical security integrator community is that their traditional role is evolving from product installation to system integration, and this process will require an entirely new understanding of what the word “security” actually means to your customers.

The world of security is getting turned on its head as a result of a changing definition of risk. A huge force is upon us, and it is called cyber crime. It will impact your business if you plan to stay in the security business for the foreseeable future. Cyber crime is like the “crazy aunt in the attic.” Everybody knows she is up there, but nobody acknowledges her. This problem is too big to ignore any longer. The security of our nation is at stake and if your products and/or services are networked you will be increasingly expected to understand security issues that come with that. If you opt out of that responsibility, your customers will find someone who is security enabled. Failure to understand the cyber threat is not an option.

“The FBI reports that for the first time ever, revenues from cyber crime have exceeded drug trafficking as the most lucrative illegal global business, estimated at reaping in more than $1 trillion annually in illegal profits.”

— Stefanie Hoffman, “The New Face of Cyber Crime,” CRN, 10/13/08

This is the most sobering factoid I have encountered all year. It surprised me at first, but then it made total sense. The bad guys fly under the radar whenever possible. This creates a huge problem for business executives concerned about both the bottom line and corporate brand image. Remember the golden rule of business: “Everything trickles downhill.” As these problems elevate to the board, the chief security officer gets more visibility and is expected to align with the IT organization to find solutions. Job No. 1 is to protect (secure) the business. Security is becoming a proactive business policy and the traditional demands placed upon physical security system integrators are changing rapidly. The expectation level is being ratcheted up by an order of magnitude and the requirement is more for a project manager than a product installation specialist. The common thread moving forward will be the ability to integrate and “secure” information in a multi-vendor environment.

“The theft of intellectual property from U.S. companies is occurring at a rate of $200 billion a year. American industry and government are spending billions of dollars to develop new products and technology that are being stolen at little to no cost by our adversaries. Nothing is off limits — pharmaceuticals, biotech, IT, engine design, weapons design.”

— The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Commission on Cybersecurity (2008)

These quotes are current, and the situation is getting worse. We need collaboration between the physical security and IT integrator communities to combat the cyber threat. If our intellectual property (our ideas) — the value add we provide the world — is not secure, then neither is our nation’s future. Smart integrators will recognize this trend and work closely with their customers to provide them solutions to integrate and secure both the physical and electronic environments. These engagements will tend to be long term with ongoing consulting services paid at a premium. The good news is this cyber security issue will finally get more headlines and funding moving forward; the bad news is the situation demands it. Can you help?