Where Do We Fit?

Jigsaw puzzleIt may seem like a silly question, but does security as a separate body of knowledge even exist anymore?

With the ever-increasing meld of physical, computing and communications technologies, the distinction between deterrence, delay, detection, reporting and response is becoming blurred. Security capability may be embedded in the software and its roll-out rather than at the site. If every item in an Internet of Things world could be a detector with video recording, capture and transmission capability to monitor the baby, pet or intruder, why will a security specialist be needed to help with placement of CCTV, detection and alarm systems? With improved authentication on devices such as access tokens linked into the broader intelligent building management systems (BMS), what need will there be for access control providers?

With commonality of systems via Apple, Microsoft, Google and so on, will the concept of in-house versus external security advice matter? With systems becoming more interconnected, traditional delineations of management disciplines such as security, personnel, facility and so on are disappearing. If things are linked, security being just one of the many functions of the automated, intelligent BMS, why have any security specialists at all? The same question applies in the digital world with increased cloud security, and personnel security where algorithms looking at past employment data, public records and so on will make the selection of future employees easier.

On the other hand, new technologies bring with them new security challenges. With the increasing availability of Arduino and related hardware and software, anyone can make items sophisticated enough to interface with other systems and be operated from around the globe. Combined with automated, remote building/home control systems, new types of unauthorised surveillance, sensors, switches and disabling devices will appear.

Drones are already being used for delivery of improvised munitions and drugs. Increases in battery and other on-board power systems with aligned control and autonomous controls will increase the difficulty in controlling who is doing what in the low-level airspace.

Given human nature, there will remain a need for a physical presence at venues to separate antagonists and to calm or remove certain patrons. The ever-increasing ability to record and instantly transmit incidents with analytical surveillance will perhaps even see this role evolve into something more akin to mitigation and evidence recording.

There will always be a need to provide specialist, detailed capabilities and to advise users on how best to apply the technologies and the vulnerabilities those technologies generate. There will probably be an increased need for assurance on the in-place capabilities to see if they are protecting the assets of the organisation/person.

The old differences between physical, personnel and information security will continue to blur as it did last century with IT and communications security. As the world becomes more interlinked and co-reliant, so will security specialists need to have a broader view of what is being protected, from whom/what and how. The main challenge for security will remain, as always, to be relevant and of value to senior management. This is done through professional development of individual skills while looking outwards.

The answer to the question is: security does exist as one of the key protective disciplines, but it is becoming ever more interdependent. Are we sure it will exist in a few years’ time?

Don Williams
Don Williams MIExpE, IABTI, CPP, RSecP is convenor of the ASRC Explosives 2014 forum. Don is a member of the Institute of Explosives Engineers, the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, the venue managers Associations, ASIS International and the Australian Security Research Centre’s Activities Committee. He is the Author of “Bomb Incidents – the manager’s guide” and numerous other publications relating to explosive and bomb safety and security.