Reassessing ‘Net’ Worth

Judge: “Tell me counselor, where is the original video recording?”
Prosecutor: “Original? We obtained the footage from a digital recorder located at the store in question, your Honor.”
Judge: “Have the People made sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused on the video is the same person standing in this courtroom?”
Prosecutor: “It’s him, your Honor.”
Judge: “One more time; what happened to the original recording?”
Prosecutor: “It was copied from the store’s hard drive to a backup CD-ROM, which was then downloaded via my client’s computer network to their regional office in Poughkeepsie. Their loss-prevention department then uploaded it to their office in Toledo, where it was stored on a hard drive. It was then sent across their network to a special forensics lab in Los Angeles to be reviewed by the defense’s litigation team, before being delivered to my office via the Internet.”
Judge: “Case dismissed! The defense is free to go!”

Scenes like this beg the question: Without hard, corroborating evidence, will the U.S. legal system convict someone solely on the basis of digital video or computer data that’s been uploaded and downloaded several times without the original “smoking gun?” It has not happened yet, and I’m not so sure it will.

Yet many recent entrants into our industry seem preoccupied with pushing information technology (IT) and networking, regardless of the intended purpose. I believe it is a bit premature, as far as traditional electronic security goes.

Why should we place electronic security devices on networks that are as susceptible to being hacked into and/or infected by a computer virus as we are to catching the common cold? Why should we risk having a company’s E-mail go down and taking the entire security system with it?

While IT experts say mission-critical backup systems can be created that are virtually immune to hacking, how feasible is it? How many times has a virus brought your company’s network to a screeching halt? It’s bad enough to lose communications; why add security vulnerability to the mix? And most security directors don’t even have the budget for skilled operators of their main electronic security system, let alone a backup.

Let’s look at it from another angle. A typical network is comprised of a server linked to a building’s outlets by Ethernet cable. Say you want to place a CCTV system on that network. Even with today’s IP-addressable cameras, where do you plug them in, behind the office desk?

How about a camera located outside the main entrance. Will you find existing Ethernet cable there? Not likely! You are not going to avoid having to run cable. And, you can’t simply splice into Ethernet cabling; it is much more involved than that. In addition, there are major bandwidth and other technical issues to contend with.

Some people view the “IT/Computer Guru” as the decision-maker regarding the future of enterprise security. Baloney! In addition to us, commercial audio/video, telephone and other low-voltage industries are also exploring network capabilities. Do you really believe the IT guy is going to learn all these trades that have taken years for others to master? Impossible!

Here’s how I see this situation unfolding during the next 10 years: In new construction or retrofit overhauls, there will be parallel networks connected to various servers within an organization. The IT expert will serve as a traffic manager, overseeing information flow and interoperability of the various sub-networks. Each department officer (e.g. accounting, human resources, security, etc.) will operate their own sub-network as they see fit. All will work autonomously, but within predetermined corporate parameters.

Although it is common today, eventually, no single person will have complete control of a company’s network. This model will first take hold with access control systems, as they are heavily software dependent. CCTV must overcome technical hurdles as well as the aforementioned legal issues before following suit.

This will be the future; it’s called that for a reason because it has not taken place yet! Let’s maintain a clear-eyed vision of where this exciting new technology can take us, without getting swept up in the hype.

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