Sunday, October 25, 2015

Speaking of security . . .

I was amazed to read about the modern security measures of the super-rich.  The Evening Standard reports:

Heyrick Bond Gunning ... is one of a new breed of salesmen.

He’s selling building and contents protection, but not the kind you’re used to. As the managing director of security firm Salamanca Risk Management, he sells a guarantee that you and your family will never again be bothered by anyone or anything you don’t want to be bothered by.

Business is booming because billionaires are a paranoid bunch. Take one who recently moved to Mayfair. ‘He wanted everything, from protection from cyber hacking through to physical intrusion and kidnapping,’ says Bond Gunning. ‘We ended up installing fingerprint-activated locks for family members and programmable keys for staff that limit the time they are allowed into the property and the rooms they are able to enter and exit.

‘Inside and outside we installed 24-hour monitored CCTV cameras that are so hi-tech they can tell the difference between a dog, cat and a person. In the garden there are thermal-imaging cameras that can detect heat sources in the undergrowth. One thing intruders can’t hide is the heat of their bodies.

‘Should an intruder evade the cameras or ignore the warnings they automatically broadcast, the property itself is protected by bulletproof glass and alarm sensors in all rooms. There is a bullet, gas and bombproof panic or safe room, with its own food and water, medical supplies and communications, and an impregnable supply of fresh air. Just in case the family cannot make it there in time, key rooms are sealed by reinforced shutters.’

The bill for such peace of mind? A cool £1m.

Just as boutique finance houses, family offices, lawyers, private tutors, butlers and nanny services have sprung up to cater for the ‘needs’ of London’s super-rich, an army of James Bond-type ‘Qs’ now develop and sell the kind of safety systems and gadgets that 007 could only dream of.

. . .

Ultra-high net worth households also demand that their telephone and internet communications are encrypted. ‘I’ve been to some houses that look more like the NSA [America’s National Security Agency just outside Washington DC] than a family home,’ jokes one of London’s leading security consultants. Mobile phones have tracking devices to help protect family members in a kidnap situation.

There's much more at the link, including many more examples of hi-tech solutions to security problems.

I suppose such security is nice if you can afford it . . . but I can't ignore the simpler solution, typified by this XKCD cartoon a few years ago.

That's about the size of it.  When it comes to all these gee-whiz security measures, the simplest way to overcome them is to cut off their power supply.  No electricity . . . no security.  Yes, I know many of these buildings have their own backup generators and/or batteries.  Those are extremely vulnerable targets, and many of them aren't nearly as secure as the rest of the building's contents, due to municipal regulations.  For example, Fire Department regulations make it illegal in many cities to have a large fuel supply stored in your basement for a backup generator, limiting its usefulness.  Furthermore, the generator itself has to be accessible to servicemen, so you can't tuck it away deep inside your secure perimeter.  By definition, if workmen have to penetrate that secure perimeter on a routine basis, it's not secure.  Most backup power supplies I've encountered (and I was a Civil Defense sector officer in South Africa for several years, where urban terrorism was a very real threat) were very vulnerable indeed to outside interference.

Of course, in a country like Britain, armed backup simply isn't an option.  I don't have good security on or in my home - I can't afford it.  However, any intruder doesn't know when I'll be here (I don't work a normal schedule).  Furthermore, I think I can guarantee that anyone trying to break in while I'm here is going to be rapidly disabused of the notion that I'm an easy target.  The same can be said of many of my friends.



Anonymous said...

I haven't read the article to which you link yet, but when I hit the lottery jackpot I will definitely spring big for maximum security in my new digs. A backup generator is for long outages, like after a flood or hurricane.

For short outages you can have a UPS to keep your comms and security equipment powered until the police arrive (remember it's Christmas soon, give to the Patrolmans' Benevolent Association!). Thirty minutes should be sufficient and you can wait in the safe room. Or if you prefer, engage the intruder(s) with your shotgun.

What I would like is a high-tech night vision helmet with a heads-up display integrated into the visor that gives me switchable views of my closed-circuit cameras and heat sensing devices. The latter would look like the old PacMan video game: moving dots (each signifying a warm body) within a floor plan of my house and its surroundings. See them before they see me. A simplified version of this display will also appear on my AppleWatch when required, via Bluetooth from my comms/security center in the safe room.

Have to be careful with CCTV cameras if they look at your neighbor's houses or the sidewalk, may not be compatible with privacy laws in your jurisdiction. Infrared sensors that merely report sources of body heat should be legit, however.

An escape tunnel from the floor of the safe room to the garage might be worth considering. Probably the best early-warning system is also the oldest: an alert dog.

Anonymous said...

Nothing on earth is worth that much paranoia. I remember a German rich guy back a few decades ago. SOB had the best security known to man at the time. Four terrorist took him out with a 50$ IED. There is no such thing as death proof security. Sooner or later you gotta come up for air, and a good(or lucky) assassin will get you if that's your Karma. No amount of money can bribe the reaper.---Ray

Anonymous said...

I only desire a IR proof ghillie suit. For chilling (literally, if you get my drift) on the southern border.

mobius wolf said...

I'll stick with old school security, a dog, an armed man, and a reputation for alertness.

Bruce said...

I've installed a few alarm systems and video surveillance systems back when I worked for a data services provider (yeah, having their highest paid, most senior sys admin and the manager of their NOC running cable and installing alarms systems at customer locations made tons of sense to me, too. NOT!). But, when I first got into that stuff, I came a cross a web site dedicated to the diy installer called the Home Security Store ( Ended up do a lot of business with them for the the alarms and sensors. They have a huge forum for diyers and people that want to take over control of their professionally installed systems. Plus they connected me with a company that would monitor our alarms for 1/3 the going rate - and they monitor self-installed systems. I highly recommend them and they will be my go-to when I buy a house myself.

For the surveillance systems, we went to a different supplier, but they are still a good place to start your research.

mobius wolf said...

@Bruce- I like that driveway alarm. I have a very long driveway.
THey don't mention how much trees interfere with the signal. :o(
Do you have a link to the forum?

Quartermaster said...

Be careful of the Metro PD. When I lived near Nashville their reputation when it came to armed citizens was not the best, shall we say. Hopefully they have improved in the meantime.

kamas716 said...

"Security" at my house amounts to a locked door/window and the fact someone is typically at home 20 some hours a day. Whenever I see cameras on someone's house/garage I immediately start wondering how much traffic that residence has and if the task force needs to be notified.