Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 20, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on February 20, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 8:50 am

This will be lengthy and in serial format!


Perhaps the root of all evil when humanity knows better since most recognize WE [yes all of us are social animals]!

So I start this comment with reference to Mary Parker Follett [once again on this blog]!

See Wikipedia entry below:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933)

Born 3 September 1868
Quincy, Massachusetts

Died 18 December 1933 (65 years old)
Boston, Massachusetts

Social worker turned management theorist and consultant and writer



Management and Politics



Mary Parker Follett (3 September 1868 – 18 December 1933) was an American social worker, management consultant and pioneer in the fields of organizational theory and organizational behavior. Along with Lillian Gilbreth, Mary Parker Follett was one of two great women management gurus in the early days of classical management theory.

1 Biography
2 Work 2.1 Organizational theory
2.2 Follett’s writings
2.3 Transformational Leadership

3 Influences
4 Publications
5 References
6 Further reading
7 External links


Follett was born in Massachusetts and spent much of her early life there. In September 1885 she enrolled in Anna Ticknor’s Society to Encourage Studies at Home. In 1898 she graduated from Radcliffe College, but was denied a doctorate at Harvard on the grounds that she was a woman.

Over the next three decades, she published many works. She was one of the first women ever invited to address the London School of Economics, where she spoke on cutting-edge management issues. She also distinguished herself in the field of management by being sought out by President Theodore Roosevelt as his personal consultant on managing not-for-profit, non-governmental, and voluntary organizations.

Along with Lillian Gilbreth, Mary Parker Follett was one of two great women management gurus in the early days of classical management theory, and she is regarded by some writers as the “mother” of Modern Management.

Her ideas on negotiation, power, and employee participation were highly influential in the development of the fields of organizational studies, alternative dispute resolution, and the Human Relations Movement.[citation needed]

Organizational theory[edit]

In her capacity as a management theorist, Mary Parker Follett pioneered the understanding of lateral processes within hierarchical organizations (which recognition led directly to the formation of matrix-style organizations, the first of which was DuPont, in the 1920s), the importance of informal processes within organizations, and the idea of the “authority of expertise”—which really served to modify the typology of authority developed by her German contemporary, Max Weber, who broke authority down into three separate categories: rational-legal, traditional and charismatic.

She recognized the holistic nature of community and advanced the idea of “reciprocal relationships” in understanding the dynamic aspects of the individual in relationship to others. Follett advocated the principle of what she termed “integration,” or non-coercive power-sharing based on the use of her concept of “power with” rather than “power over.”

She admonished over managing employees, a process now known as micromanaging, as “bossism”.

Follett also contributed greatly to the win-win philosophy, coining the term in her work with groups. Her approach to conflict was to embrace it as a mechanism of diversity and an opportunity to develop integrated solutions rather than simply compromising. She was also a pioneer in the establishment of community centers.

Follett’s writings

Follett’s writings span the decades. In The New State, Follett ponders many of the social issues at hand today.
“It is a mistake to think that social progress is to depend upon anything happening to the working people: some say that they are to be given more material goods and all will be well; some think they are to be given more “education” and the world will be saved. It is equally a mistake to think that what we need is the conversion to “unselfishness” of the capitalist class.”
Transformational Leadership[edit]

Pawelec, (1998) (now Ann Deschenes) found an obscure reference pointing to Mary Parker Follet having coined the term “Transformational Leadership”. She quote: Rusch, Edith A. (1991) in “The social construction of leadership: From theory to praxis” discovered that … writings and lectures by Mary Parker Follet from as early as 1927 contained references to transformational leadership, the interrelationship of leadership and followership, and the power of collective goals of leaders and followers (p. 8).
Burns makes no reference to Mary Parker Follet in Leadership, Nonetheless Rusch was able to trace what appear to be parallel themes in the works of Burns and Follet.” Rusch presents direct references in Appendix A. Pawelec (Deschenes) found further parallels of transformational discourse between Follet’s ( 1947,1987) work and Burns(1978).


Even though most of Mary Parker Follett’s writings remained known in very limited circles until republished at the beginning of this decade (beginning with Pauline C. Graham’s first-rate work), her ideas gained great influence after Chester Barnard, a New Jersey Bell executive and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, published his seminal treatment of executive management, The Functions of the Executive.

Barnard’s work, which stressed the critical role of “soft” factors such as “communication” and “informal processes” in organizations, owed a telling yet undisclosed debt to Follett’s thought and writings. In addition, her emphasis on such soft factors paralleled the work of Elton Mayo at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Plant, and presaged the rise of the Human Relations Movement, as developed through the work of such figures as Abraham Maslow, Kurt Lewin, Douglas McGregor, Chris Argyris, Dick Beckhard and other breakthrough contributors to the field of Organizational Development or “OD”.

Her influence can also be seen indirectly perhaps in the work of Ron Lippitt, Ken Benne, Lee Bradford, Edie Seashore and others at the National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine, where T-Group methodology was first theorized and developed. Thus, Mary Follett’s work set the stage for a generation of effective, progressive changes in management philosophy, style and practice, revolutionizing and humanizing the American workplace, and allowing the fulfillment of Douglas McGregor’s management vision—quantum leaps in productivity effected through the humanization of the workplace.


She also authored a number of books and numerous essays, articles and speeches on democracy, human relations, political philosophy, psychology, organizational behavior and conflict resolution.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives (1896)
The New State (1918)
Creative Experience (1924)
The Giving of Orders (1926)
Dynamic Administration (1942) (this collection of speeches and short articles was published posthumously)

Comment by Matt Doyle

February 20, 2015 @ 8:56 am

For my post this week I decided to write about cyber security threats on mobile phones and devices. In the concluding chapter of their book Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Singer and Friedman (2014) outline five emerging trends that will have important implications for the future of cyber security. The third trend they discuss is the “mobile revolution” (p. 250). While the mobile revolution offers us greater flexibility, it also adds additional risks to cyber security. Singer and Friedman (2014) write that “this increase [in risks] is natural, but the real danger is that our understanding of the risks has not grown at the same rate” (p. 251). The mobile network is less secure, less defined, and more fragmented than traditional computers. In addition to the different operating systems for phones, phones can also download thousands of apps, many of which are not protected. Singer and Friedman (2014) write “that market is fragmented, with multiple makers, from the phone to the operating system to the mobile apps, each with a role in security but often lacking any sense of responsibility for it” (p. 251-251). A good example of this lack of responsibility and the fragmented market can be seen with software applications for phones.

Singer and Friedman (2014) write that “apps should only be downloaded from trusted marketplaces” (p. 246). This rule seems obvious, but it is not always followed. Cisco (2014) states that “many users download mobile apps regularly without any thought of security” (p. 32). This issue is further complicated when individuals jailbreak their phones, this allows them to download apps that may otherwise be blocked by the phone’s operating system. Additionally, the standards for approving apps vary across the various app marketplaces. Ruggiero and Foote (2011) write that “anyone can develop apps for some of the most popular mobile phone operating systems, and mobile service providers may offer third party apps with little or no evaluation of their safety” (p. 2). U.S CERT (2010) claims that Android phones are particularly vulnerable because the Android Marketplace has lax standards when it comes to approving applications.

This lack of regulation and security is concerning when one considers that many mobile users download mobile banking apps and other financial apps. There is a precedent for hackers targeting mobile banking apps. The U.S. Cert (2010) report mentions two specific incidents involving online banking applications: the 09Droid incident, and the Sexy Space Mobile worm incident. The Sexy Space mobile incident was particularly worrisome because the “malware had the potential to steal subscriber, device, and network information from the victims” and it had the capability to build a botnet (U.S. CERT, 2010, p. 9). The Sexy Space mobile worm compromised user’s mobile banking logins and it started to propagate. U.S-CERT (2010) writes that the worm propagated “via spam text messages that were sent from a compromised device to the victim’s contacts. The messages, exchanged at the expense of the victims, contain a link to a website hosting malicious application that will infect the phone if executed” (U.S-CERT, 2010, p. 9). A key component of this scheme is the reality that people are more trusting of text messages than email. Cloudmark (2014) claims that text messages have 98% open rate. In the case of the above threat, text messages will be sent to the person’s contacts; the texts and the attached links will appear legitimate.

One of the common themes regarding security on mobile devices is that users must be more informed and aware of the risks. Ruggiero and Foote (2011) write that due to lack of security solutions available for phones, “the bulk of mobile phone security relies on the user making intelligent, cautious choices” (Ruggiero & Foote, p. 3). The U.S.-CERT (2010) article has little confidence in this arrangement: “the user’s limited awareness and subsequent unsafe behavior may be the most threatening vulnerabilities for mobile devices” (p. 12). Malicious apps that target online banking are particularly concerning because of their potential financial impact. While mobile phones and their downloadable apps have the potential to simplify our lives, users need to be more vigilant about potential risks.


Cisco (2014). Cisco Annual Security Report. Cisco Systems Inc. http://www.cisco.com/web/offer/gist_ty2_asset/Cisco_2014_ASR.pdf

Cloudmark (2014). How Advancing Mobile Technology is Changing the Threat Landscape. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2p1SlujQBI

Ruggiero, P. and Foote, J. (2011). Cyber Threats to Mobile Phones. U.S-CERT. United States Computer Emergency Ready Team.

Singer, P.W. and Friedman, A. (2014). Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know. Oxford University Press: New York.

U.S. Dept of Homeland Security (2010). Technical Information Paper-TIP-10-105-01. Cyber Threats to Mobile Devices. U.S-CERT.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 9:12 am

Hopefully all involved in HS understand why I have renewed a reference to MPF [Mary Parker Follett]!

Many question the impact of so-called SOFT POWER and the use of it intentionally and unintentionally by the USA to impact and change the WORLD ORDER!

MANAGEMENT theory and practice is one of the principal gifts to the world IMO. And note that mandatory attendance seminars on MPF for all working in DHS and FEMA might well have a payoff since DHS and FEMA largely rely on a secretive, stove-piped, authoritarian style that IMO has largely failed.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 9:25 am

Matt’s comment prompts the thought that even cyber security should heed some of MPF’s analytic discourse. She was one of the first to focus on the nature of knowledge and technology in the 20th Century and concluded complexity alone dictated that the ability for leaders to form teams to deal with complex management and organizational issues was the future.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN’s book TEAM OF RIVALS [one of her best books IMO] identified President Lincoln as a superb manager of his TEAM.

To-date cyber security in Washington is largely in the bureaucratic rivalry state that often dominates a Washington with very weak leadership for the last few decades.

And yes the nation-state system is largely in a leadership deficit position.

Among other problems basic honesty [if not moral deficits] plagues the world. And definitely plagues the many leadership cultures in the USA including the military. In a mere 25 years the Flag Ranks have gone from most retiring without full-time employment to almost all worrying even while on active duty about their next job.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 9:27 am

The key to cyber security is expertise and collaboration and cooperation IMO!

And our FEDERAL GOVERNMENTAL SYSTEM must promote collaboration and cooperation.

And the same goes for the fight against ISIS!

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 9:32 am

Perhaps some readers here may remember that a PERMANENT STANDING COMMITTEE IN THE CONGRESS IS LONG OVERDUE.

Comment by Mike Upham

February 20, 2015 @ 10:08 am

BelAir Networks Public Safety Interoperability and Wireless Mesh Delivers (2007) describes the communication networking systems that aided in effecting a quick and collaborated response to several disaster situations. The wireless mesh system operates in a similar fashion as the Internet. It provides multiple communication pathways across various channels to quickly and effectively share information to multiple sources. This type of interoperability network greatly increases effectiveness in emergency response situations requiring joint effort from police, firefighters, EMS, state authorities, private agencies, emergency command center, and other outside jurisdictions providing assistance.
The success of these systems relies on the frontline operators to correctly utilize the necessary resources to share information. The wireless mesh system was first proven successful in the 2007 Minnesota 35W bridge collapse to effectively collaborate efforts requiring land and water response, cars on fire, HAZMAT spills, triage, and major traffic rerouting. Wireless mesh proved reliable and effective in keeping constant communication amongst multiple fields of service. The wireless mesh network allowed networks to restore and boost cellular capacity, transmit secure voice and video feeds through cameras, and provide a secure Internet connection for first responders and emergency communications to collaborate efforts.
This type of interoperability is critical not only for disaster situations. The wireless mesh system can also be effective for small communities that see a large influx of people during parades, festivals, fairs, and other events. The wireless mesh system provides a solid backbone for communications, which could otherwise be targeted by terrorists. With large-scale terrorist attacks such a 9/11 becoming less of the trend due to enhanced national security, the likelihood of small-scale, yet equally effective attacks on smaller targets becomes the new vulnerability. Local jurisdictions have the responsibility to adopt these technologies in order to ensure effective services. Although initial costs are high for introducing this type of communication network, the benefits for security are a necessity for all jurisdictions across the US.
Wireless mesh systems greatest benefit is the ability to quickly share large GIS mapping files which aid in the mapping of disaster sites, which would otherwise slow connection speeds and use large amounts of bandwidth. The system also supports Wi-Fi and 4.9 GHz Public Safety bands on the same network, which allows emergency communication centers the ability to rapidly broadcast information over different channels for various support agencies. This type of communication interoperability must continue to be developed and advanced to provide the most effective collaboration amongst all members of the homeland security stakeholder community.

BelAir Networks (2007). Public Safety Interoperability: Wireless Mesh Delivers. White Paper. Retrieved from https://monmouth.desire2learn.com/d2l/le/content/191074/viewContent/1953627/View

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 10:31 am

Reliance on experts as MPF recommended not out of choice but necessity prompts this link:


Comment by Gianna Gallo

February 20, 2015 @ 1:26 pm

Keeping with the theme since Super Bowl of major events that gain media attention, I have decided to evaluate the Inspection, Detection, and Surveillance technology of Standoff Technology Integration and Demonstration Program architecture designed by the Department of Homeland Security and used in large crowd commercial facilities.

Every day, millions of people attend concerts, sporting events, religious gatherings, and other shows in large and small venues across the country. Protecting these key pieces of infrastructure is critical to protecting our nation and the public whom attend these venues. What makes these commercial facilities great also makes them both a physical and psychological target for terrorists and people hoping to do harm to the United States and our way of life. It is critical to protect our arenas and public spaces because there are a large concentration of people in a fairly small space, and additionally, those events typically have a lot of media attention, national attention, and sometimes, even worldwide attention. If we do not protect these facilities, what is at risk is a potentially catastrophic loss of life and tremendous economic consequences. Bag checks and basic security measures are not always effective when it comes to preventing potentially hazardous or dangerous items from entering a commercial facility. I believe the Department of Homeland Security’s Standoff Technology Integration and Demonstration Program (STIDP), “which is designed to accelerate the development of standoff and remote countermeasure architectures in crowd situations such as large public events and mass transit facilities,” (Lombardo et al., 2009, p.1), is absolutely essential in addressing threats posed by suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, and leave-behind bombs.
Improvised explosive devices have the potential to be extremely destructive and our nation’s adversaries have grown very comfortable with using them. “IEDs will continue to be used by terrorist groups against U.S. interests due primarily to the wide availability of improvised bomb making materials, the ability to conceal large amounts of explosives, the ease of getting the IED to the target, the proliferation of bomb making instructions, and the history of success, which increases repetition and imitation,” (Doherty, 2009, p.3). The need to detect these devices is immediate and the detection method should have the ability to meet potential emerging threats of the future. The Department of Homeland Security’s STIDP counter-IED architecture could fit this mold. The STIDP’s countermeasure architecture being developed integrates modules such as sensors, an object-tracking system, threat/asset management and decision-support/data-fusion algorithms, an operator interface module and a data-management system networked into a geographic information system-based backbone (Lombardo et al., 2009). Detecting explosives at a distance in unstructured crowds can present many challenges. “The most effective explosives-detection approach for crowds deploys multiple detectors networked to a decision-making system, where each sensor detects different aspects, or ‘characteristics,’ of the same potential threat,” (Lombardo et al., 2009). However, the countermeasure architecture goes a step further by combining a suite of detection and enabling technologies that are operated and physically deployed as a system and integrated with the business operations of a venue, (Lombardo et al., 2009). This means that the public and private sectors must work hand-in-hand in order for the STIDP’s counter-IED design to work efficiently.
In order to address a wide-range of venues and commercial facilities, a range of technical solutions have been suggested. The detection systems used must be able to locate concealed objects and leave-behind bombs. Detection systems would be deployed in a layered approach, operated as a system, and must overcome crowd dynamic issues. The first-line of defense sensors sort the arriving crowd into higher- and lower-risk groups based on pre-defined threat characteristics. “Those who trigger the first-line sensors are subject to screening by other sensor sets or immediate interdiction by law enforcement,” (Lombardo et al., 2009, p.3). This is a more cost-effective integrative countermeasure. The data produced by these detection systems are visible and infrared images, other electromagnetic signal streams (e.g. millimeter-wave or terahertz data), state information (alarm, clear, or indeterminate; relative risk level), screening counts, simple digital and analog sensor output (threshold exceeded, signal strength, or other signal characteristics), and target positional information (Lombardo et al., 2009). Operators of the system are typically law enforcement or military personnel; however, at certain facilities they would be Command Center or security personnel. “Spotters,” typically trained law enforcement and safety services (security) at the commercial facility, will mix in the crowd and look for suspect physical or behavioral signatures. Every one of these spotters or security personnel must have some training in spotting suspicious behavior, identifying things that are suspicious or suspect, and being able to report that rather easily to those who need to get that information so that they can act on it immediately.
Advancing this technology to prevent IEDs from entering commercial facilities will require the development of standards, coordination between foreign and domestic agencies, development of a technology roadmap, and broad communication of the integrated countermeasure architecture to industry and academia (Lombardo et al., 2009). It is absolutely critical that homeland security stakeholders and commercial facility operators send the message that this country takes security seriously. Those who try to do our nation harm at a large public facility will have to go through a gauntlet of security – from the parking lot enforcement, to the bag checkers, ticket scanners, and security and law enforcement positioned around the stadium. The risk is real, and there are people out there who are trying to bring harmful and destructive objects into public venues. Advanced technology can only aid in this line of defense.

Lombardo, N., Knudson, C., Ozanich, R., Rutz, F., Singh, S., Tardiff, M., Kemp, M., & Tierney, M. (2009). A Next-Generation Countermeasure Architecture to Prevent Explosives Attacks at Large Public Events. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Richland, W.A.

Doherty, R. (2009). Critical Research/Innovation Focus Area Document: Detection of Homemade Explosives (HMEs). Counter Improved Explosive Devices. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate: Washington, D.C.. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/st_detect_and_defeat_hme.pdf

Comment by Chris Kears

February 20, 2015 @ 1:35 pm

For my post, I want to address the dispute about the possible Homeland Security shutdown. According to The House Speak, John A. Boehner, the Department of Homeland Security’s funding could be lapse; which raises the concern about the possibility that one of our government’s largest and most vital agencies could be shut down at the end of February (Peters, 2015). Since the Republicans took Congress two months ago, both the Republican and Democratic Party have been on opposite sides of the spectrum on how to handle certain issues. A big example of this is the issue of immigration and how Republicans are refusing to abide by President Obama’s immigration policy; which seeks to protect millions of unauthorized immigrations, including children. If the Republican Party does in fact gut this immigration policy, then these millions of authorized immigrants are at serious risk of deportation.
According to Parker (2015), “Senate Republicans already have failed three times to pass legislation to appropriate money for the homeland security agency because Democrats oppose provisions that would undo Mr. Obama’s executive actions on immigration, eliminating protections for millions of undocumented immigrants, including children. Democrats have used procedural maneuvers to block the bill” (p. 1) continuing to be on complete opposite sides of the spectrum will only continue to result in failure; therefore, leading to both parties engaging in new initiatives and strategies that help strengthen the Department of Homeland Security. In an era that seems to be surrounded with ascending threats from terrorism and natural disasters, there is no time to shut down one of the most important government agencies that protects our nation’s critical infrastructure.
More direct quotes from politicians:
“As the governing party, we should govern,” said Senator Mark S. Kirk, Republican of Illinois.
Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House in the 1990s, had his own difficulties dealing with Republicans in the Senate. “What they don’t want to do is end up being locked into a position where they’re prepared to not fund the border patrol or not fund the T.S.A. over what is for most Americans not a very clear policy fight,” he said, referring to the Transportation Security Administration. “Whichever party is in charge always finds in terms of its idea-oriented wing that the House is easier and the Senate is harder,” he added.
Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, had an even harsher message for Senate Republicans. “Senator McConnell has engaged in a half-hearted effort to date,” he said. “McConnell has engaged in a policy of surrender without fighting. I’m not going to vote to fund unconstitutional conduct by Barack Obama. Period. End of subject.”
That being said, with only a few days remaining in February, more questions are being raised with less action taking place. Pointing the finger is not going to solve this problematic issue and collaboration needs to be acknowledged so both parties can meet somewhere in the middle. With the homeland security enterprise dealing with the enormous workload to counter today’s ever-changing threat environment, what recommendations can help solve this issue in an appropriate and reasonable manner?

Parker, A. (2015, February 11). Funding Is Still Elusive for Homeland Security. Retrieved from
The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/12/us/politics/funding-is-still-elusive-for-homeland-security.html?ref=topics
Peters, J. W. (2015, February 15). Boehner Says He’d Allow Homeland Security Shutdown .
Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/16/us/politics/john-boehner-says-hed-allow-homeland-security-shutdown.html?ref=topics&_r=0

Comment by Maggie Szymczyk

February 20, 2015 @ 5:06 pm

For my post this week I want to discuss the idea of “ring of steel” as a future of major cities around the United States. “Ring of steel” as referred by Mollenkamp and Haughty (2006) is “the phrase refers to closed-circuit cameras and narrow roads that encircle the City of London, the neighborhood that houses London’s financial district as well as such historic sights as St. Paul’s Cathedral. The narrow roads create just a few entry points to the area that police can block off, if necessary, while cameras photograph anyone entering or exiting the area” (pg. 1). Ring of steel started out in London in 1990s but is now also used in New York City as a part of Lower Manhattan Security Initiative which monitors lower Manhattan. The future of the homeland security calls for monitoring and surveillance but can we afford it?
There are definitely advantages to have monitoring in cities that are prone to terrorism. Cameras can be used to monitor areas and individuals and keep an eye if anything suspicious is happening. As Kelly (2013) points out “the cameras make some people feel more secure, knowing that bad guys are being watched” (pg. 1). Knowing that the law enforcement is watching is definitely reassuring to the citizens of the big cities especially with in the light of the recent events. There is always a need for monitoring and as we have seen in the Boston Marathon bombing that monitoring is a helpful tool to the law enforcement, however we cannot forget about the disadvantages of this principle. The cost of setting up these cameras and having enough law enforcement personnel to monitor it 24/7 is very expensive. According to Homeland Security Wire (2009) “The city will use the $24 million provided by a grant from DHS to blanket the streets between 30th St. and 60th St., from the East River to the Hudson River, with enough security technology to hopefully sniff out a terrorist attack before it can occur” (pg. 1). Right now it is only to covering the lower Manhattan but there is much more need for the rest of the city. This system is very expensive and unless there is a solution to reduce costs, it will not be very practical in the cities around the United States.
We also have to look at the future and the practical side of the “ring of steel”. With large growing domestic terrorism, it seems to become a very good solution. Always being able to see what is happening in the large cities would definitely help in increasing safety of the Americans. These cameras allow the law enforcement to monitor a large number of places at the same time and if something suspicious occurs, quickly take action. It seems like the idea of the ring of steel is a very good one but there needs to be a way to reduce the costs. Monitoring in the cities, especially in places that are important, should be practiced because we have seen what happened in the attacks of 9/11. It is a completely different world that we live in right now but I believe that monitoring could ensure more safety to the Americans. Large cities that might be targets to terrorist attacks and bomb explosions should consider these “ring of steel” around important areas of the cities but it would definitely be beneficial but lower cost solutions must be exploited.


Homeland Security Wire. (October 5, 2009). New York City to expand Ring of Steel’s coverage. Homeland Security Wire. Retrieved from http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/new-york-city-expand-ring-steels-coverage

Kelly, H. (April 26, 2013). After Boston: The pros and cons of surveillance cameras. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/26/tech/innovation/security-cameras-boston-bombings/

Mollenkamp, C., Haughney, C. (January 25, 2006). ‘Ring of Steel’ for New York? The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB113815677585855548

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 5:20 pm

As I understand it the policy fight over DHS funding for the rest of this Fiscal Year focuses on immigration. With federal District Courts split on the President’s immigration law enforcement discretion perhaps the Congress should just bow out and wait for the Federal judicial system to determine the outcome.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 20, 2015 @ 5:21 pm

As to my reference above to creation of a PERMANENT JOINT COMMITTEE I was referring to cyber security.

Comment by Ally M

February 20, 2015 @ 8:35 pm

For this week’s post I would like to continue the discussion on the future threats to cyber security and the systems that are run by computers. Today there are many pieces of Technology that use electricity as its power source. The United States electricity grid is vulnerable to both hacking and physical attacks. This vulnerability needs to take priority and it needs to be better protected from all future threats. Almost everything that this society uses depends on the power grid. This means that if the power grid is attacked it will cause a chain reaction creating numerous issues to deal with at the same time. It will be difficult to create a response to multiple emergencies at once and especially if communication is hindered. In an article the former director of the CIA states, “We have 18 critical infrastructures in the United States: water, food, electricity and so forth. All 17 of the others depend on electricity,” (McMahon, 2013). All of these areas that depend on electricity will become vulnerable if the power grid goes out.

If terrorists were to physically attack our nation’s power grid, creating damage to large transformers, it could disrupt power to large regions of the country. The real issue is that it could take months to repair this sort of damage. For example a way that terrorists could attack the power grid is by detonating an electromagnetic pulse or EMP, at a high altitude above the United States. It will release a burst of radiation which would interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere. The result would be all electrical infrastructure and electronic devices would receive severe shocks, causing severe, widespread damage (Kiger, 2013). The threats of cyber-attacks on the power grid are just as real. The number of cyber attacks are increasing, not only in frequency but also in sophistication. “If hackers managed to penetrate utility companies’ electronic defenses, they might be able to give instructions to key pieces of equipment that would cause them to fail,” (Kiger, 2013). The denial of electrical service could disrupt the delivery of essential services, including communications, food, water, health care, and emergency response. Would homeland security be able to respond to an emergency without electricity? This is a crazy scenario to think about but there is a growing cyber risk. The entire homeland security community needs to be able to protect the power grid on both fronts.

There are potential solutions which need to be researched and developed further. At the power plants located across the nation there is very little security. The private owners of these plants need to take the responsibility to enhance the security capabilities of their plants. They have many options to choose from including enhanced sensors that can detect breaches or unauthorized personnel, limits on the electronic pathways to external systems, and more physical surveillance. By creating new sources of energy it will give this nation a back up source incase an event does occur. The people of the United States also need to prepare themselves by having extra batteries in their homes and a possible portable generator that works on fuel. Having little power is still better than having none at all (McMahon, 2013).

Kiger, J., P. (2013). ’American Blackout’: Four Major Real-Life Threats to the Electric Grid. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/25/american-blackout-four-major-real-life-threats-to-the-electric-grid/

McMahon, J. (2013). Former CIA Director: The Grid Is Vulnerable To Attack. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2013/04/26/former-cia-director-the-grid-is-vulnerable/

Comment by Colton Strano

February 20, 2015 @ 11:05 pm

Technological advances has been a productive part of society by making hard tasks easier to complete and a wider variety of information at our fingertips. With the progression of mobile devices, there has also been a great increase in the use of these devices to not only be productive, but they have also proven to a power tool in a hackers arsenal of tricks. Whether it is using a mobile device to hack into a private network or to hack someone else’s mobile devices, both have severe consequences. A recent story of actress Jennifer Lawrence recently had her mobile device hacked but not for money, but to private pictures stored on it (Duke, 2014). With such power in a single mobile device today, the security systems and protocols for networks, other mobile devices, and computers needs to be addressed with an increased level of seriousness. The US-CERT released a document that explains safety tips for mobile devices users to better protect their own phones in case they lose their phone, store important data on it, or use it to browse malicious websites.

The US-CERT Cyber Threats to Mobile Devices document describes a wide variety of threats that exists for mobile devices including; Social engineering, Exploitation of social networks, mobile botnets, exploitation of mobile applications, and exploitation of m-commerce. All of these threats are current and can lead to serious problems for a person, private and public company. One topic that should be considered as a top priority is the exploitation of mobile application because of the increase use of smart phones and applications downloaded and used on a constant day-to-day basis. While some might think downloading Clash of Clans is not going to ruin their bank account, certain types of exploits can be hidden in other less familiar apps downloaded and attack their more personal information on the phone, such as banking apps. “In early 2010, Google found potentially fraudulent banking applications in their Android Market. An anonymous developer known as “09Droid” sold a collection of banking applications that were not authorized by the banks for which they were seemingly developed. It is unclear if the apps were used to gain access to users’ confidential banking information. 09Droid published applications for approximately 40 different banking institutions, all of which Google removed from the Android Market” (US-Cert, 2010, p. 8).

This can have a very large impact on the financial aspect of a single person, or if a large enough population is exploited, a national problem. When a single person claims they have been “hacked” or someone has stolen their money, the bank should have enough reserve to compensate the victims (Federal Trade Commission, 2012). When these numbers grow out of control, the amount the banks have to pay out exceeds their reserve and now causes a national problem. The risk of another depression could be right around the corner if enough personal bank information is stolen and used to clear the accounts because the banks are responsible for their customers money. Mobile device exploiting has made this dilemma more of a reality because of the mass amounts of smart phones, online banking, and mobile banking done.


Duke, A. (2014, September 2). FBI, Apple investigate nude photo leak targeting Jennifer Lawrence, others. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/01/showbiz/jennifer-lawrence-photos/

Federal Trade Commission. (2012, August). Electronic Banking. Retrieved from Federal Trade Commission: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0218-electronic-banking

U.S. Dept of Homeland Security (2009). Technical Information Paper-TIP-10-105-01. Cyber Threats to Mobile Devices. U.S-CERT.

Comment by Justyna Gromadzka

February 20, 2015 @ 11:17 pm

For this week’s post I would like to discuss the benefits and possible uses of UAV’s in homeland security. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) have been in use by different groups for years now. Recently, new advances in this technologies are creating a wide variety of possible uses that were never seen before. This opens the door to using this technology not only internationally but domestically in our efforts to enhance our national security. With the technological advances that have been taking place, UAV’s are and will continue to become more useful in securing our homeland.
One domestic use of UAV’s, also referred to as drones, that would further enhance our national security would be to incorporate them into our border patrol efforts. By improving our border patrol we can decrease the number of unauthorized aliens, criminals, and terrorist that cross our borders unlawfully. Additionally, we can also decrease the amount of weapons, drugs, and other contraband being smuggled into our country daily. Agencies could use these drones to monitor our borders and areas surrounding them around the clock without putting their agents in danger. This does not only provide a more affordable option to putting boots not he ground but a safer one as well.
UAV’s can be flown by either remote control or a programed flight path. Their sizes and abilities vary greatly depending on the type of UAV selected. They are also much cheaper to produce then traditional aircraft that requires a pilot and because they are unmanned they can remain in the air for extended periods of time. Most importantly they can fly into dangerous situations and keep humans out of harms way. A pilot study done by the U.S. Custom and Border Protection Agency showed that drones can be used in place of ground agents for many different uses. Furthermore, the pilot study also showed that drones provide some capabilities that agents can not such as the ability to carry different sensors and have multiple functions (2012).

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General (2012). CBP’s use of unmanned aircraft systems in the nation’s border security. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/OIG_12-85_May12.pdf

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2015 @ 9:35 am

Thanks for the many outstanding comments.

Comment by Dina Russo

February 21, 2015 @ 11:02 am

An IDS technology that is helping in securing our homeland is ICCTV. Usually when one thinks of CCTV, or closed circuit television, they just think of cameras that are videotaping what is going on in the vicinity. Usually these would be reactive measures, such as rewinding video to see what actually occurred or if they can identify a person. However Intelligent Closed Circuit Television, ICCTV, is actually a proactive security measure. ICCTV can assist human operators to detect events as they occur. For example, if there is ICCTV in a subway station, the ICCTV can identify faces of suspected or known terrorists in the crowded area. Then, the operators can look further into this person of interest and see if they actually are a threat. The ICCTV can also include different items such as pedestrian recognition and can detect if a person is doing something unusual in the area.

The system is configured by first having analog video boxes. These boxes record all the video that is going on presently and stores that video. The first layer is the Camera Management Layer which ingests the video feeds from all the different cameras. This also handles the overlap of cameras, for example if the operator is using a Pan Tilt Zoom, PTZ, camera and following an object. The second layer is the Alarm Management and Presentation layer. This is the layer where the alarms would be generated from the soft wear. All the operator has to do is just switch over to the camera where the alarm is going off in order to see what is happening in real time. This is important because it allows the operator to be notified immediately and react in a timely manner.

I believe that ICCTV is a great idea and can be used in a number of different venues. For example, if ICCTV was used in a mall setting this would allow the real time operators to filter through all the masses of people without wasting their time. This would allow the operators to detect if a potential terrorist was in the mall, or if someone was acting in an unusual way. I currently work in Loss Prevention and spend some on my day on CCTV. I rather be on CCTV then on the floor because using the camera system allows you to quickly look at the whole store rather than walking the different floors which takes longer. However, if we had ICCTV our jobs would be a whole lot easier. If ICCTV could identify, for example, repeat shoplifters or Organized Retail Crime members we would be making a lot more arrests. Humans make errors and might not remember or be able to identify someone that they received a BOLO about. However, ICCTV allows an easier way to keep our large venues safe and potentially could be a great tool for our homeland security.

Bigdeli, A., Lovel, B.C., Sanderson, C., Shan, T., and Chen, S. (2007). Vision Processing in Intelligence CCTV for Mass Transport Security. Signal Processing Applications for Public Security and Forensics.http://nicta.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/14967/Vision_Processing_in_Intelligent_CCTV_for_Mass_Transport_Security.pdf

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

BTW while it used to be drunk drivers accounted for over 50% of all auto accidents in the USA and now those auto accidents involving cell phones climbing towards 40% of all accidents.

Cell phones also used to trigger many IEDs in MENA [middle east/N. Africa]!

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 22, 2015 @ 9:37 am

And CCTV should be used to track who and when the lobbyists visit Congressional offices.

A new book out by COST on corruption in government using a paraphrase of the Ben Franklin retort to a common citizen after the Constitutional Convention who asked Franklin “What kind of government do we have?” and Ben answering “A Republic if you can save it”!

At least earmarks allowed in some cases for identification of scoundrels.

Comment by Web Cash

July 17, 2015 @ 9:01 am

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