The Security Industry Association (SIA) and SecureIDNews have selected five distinguished biometrics and security experts as the 2020 winners of the Women in Biometrics Awards – a globally recognized program co-founded by SIA and SecureIDNews and co-presented with sponsors IDEMIA, Biometric Update and the SIA Women in Security Forum. The honorees will be recognized during the 2020 SIA GovSummit, SIA’s annual government security conference, which will be hosted as a free virtual event June 1-4. On June 3 at 1 p.m. EDT, attendees will enjoy a special keynote panel session honoring the award winners – The Women in Biometrics Awards Presents the Future of Biometrics in Government Security Applications. Biometric exit solutions The Women in Biometrics Awards honor the efforts of top female experts helping drive the biometric identity and security industry. Nominees and past winners include those working for biometric companies, peripheral suppliers, system integrators, academia, government and security and IT departments at a variety of organizations in the United States and internationally. The 2020 winners of the Women in Biometrics Awards are: Jeni Best, Branch Chief, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Jeni Best has extensive program management experience running large-scale programmes and working with external stakeholders, exemplified in her work on CBP’s Biometric Exit Program as well as in developing and implementing Automated Passport Control and Mobile Passport Control. Leading the CBP charge in implementing biometrics at airport touchpoints, Best has operationalized CBP biometric exit solutions at 27 U.S. airports and 2 international locations. Biometric mandate For much of 2019, she served as the acting director of biometric air exit operations at CBP Best contributed to the development of CBP’s exit roll-out strategy, which leverages stakeholder engagement and partnerships to achieve CBP’s biometric mandate. For much of 2019, she served as the acting director of biometric air exit operations at CBP – often referred to as “biometric boarding.” Best has over 20 years of experience with CBP and its predecessor agencies working on issues related to immigration, travel and tourism, business transformation initiatives and biometrics. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University. Records management systems Anne May, Biometric Support Center Lead, Identity Operations Division, Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Anne May has 25 years of program management experience in the public sector, including 17 years of experience with biometric technologies. She began her government career with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), where she was the program manager for large-scale records management systems and also served as biometrics portfolio manager, overseeing budget and system business operations for the INS biometrics program. Specialized biometric hardware Anne has excelled in her leadership and dedication filling multiple critical roles as an irreplaceable subject matter expert May has worked at US-VISIT since its inception in 2003, managing the implementation of multi-year, multi-agency projects and responsible for the deployment of specialized biometric hardware to over 550 border patrol and immigration enforcement field sites. After over a decade of service to the OBIM, Anne has excelled in her leadership and dedication filling multiple critical roles as an irreplaceable subject matter expert in the field of biometrics. Anne is the lead manager for the DHS 24/7 Biometric Support Center, an integral piece of the identity mission for worldwide U.S. government missions. She has also applied her expertise in support of building the next-generation DHS biometric system, Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology. Face recognition evaluation Mei Ngan, Computer Scientist, Image Group, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Mei Ngan is a scientist in the NIST Image Group, which develops standards, measurement methods and best practices for biometric technologies, promoting accuracy and interoperability and the gold standard for biometric testing and evaluation worldwide. She is an accomplished computer scientist who has produced creative and outstanding work in the fields of face morphing detection, tattoo recognition and face recognition evaluation providing the needed science and framework to underpin the successful measurement and assessment of technologies for operational viability. Face morphing detection Ngan led the NIST project supporting the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Janus program Ngan is the project lead for the NIST Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) MORPH program – an ongoing project focused on evaluation of automated face morphing detection capabilities – and has become an integral part of the FRVT activities at NIST. In 2014, she launched the Tattoo Recognition Technology Program, the first NIST program to provide a measurement and testing foundation to support the operational needs and applications for image-based tattoo recognition. Ngan has also led the NIST project supporting the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Janus program, targeting the development of advanced face recognition algorithms for unconstrained images. Terrorism detection capabilities Lauren Reed, Senior Program Director for Biometric Forensics, IDEMIA National Security Solutions (NSS) In her role at IDEMIA NSS, Lauren Reed leads the deployment of large-scale multimodal biometric systems to U.S. government foreign partners, enabling them to advance their crime and terrorism detection capabilities. She has been working in biometrics and forensics for more than 20 years; prior to joining IDEMIA NSS, she was the first woman to serve as director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory at the Defense Forensic Science Center, which provides forensic and biometric laboratory services in seven scientific disciplines to the military criminal investigative agencies of U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) globally. Multi-modal biometric examination She was instrumental in standing up multi-modal biometric examination operations for the DOD Reed also previously served as the first chief of the Biometric Examination Services Branch for the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where she was instrumental in standing up multi-modal biometric examination operations for the DOD’s Automated Biometric Identification System with expansion of services to include face and iris in addition to fingerprints. In 2012, she received the FBI Director’s Award for Exceptional Public Service for leading a latent print sharing initiative between the DOD, FBI and DHS resulting in more than 500 identifications associated with terrorist and national security cases. Reed holds a Bachelor of Science from Washington State University, a Master of Forensic Science from National University and an executive MBA degree from Kennesaw State University. Seamless airport implementation Annet Steenbergen, Co-Founder, Aruba Happy Flow Project Annet Steenbergen is a visionary Dutch national who is well respected in the U.S. and internationally as the co-founder/initiator of the Aruba Happy Flow project for the government of Aruba, the first seamless airport implementation of its kind in the world, a single-token initiative that creates a seamless flow of passenger facilitation from curb to gate through the reuse of biometrics and advanced cooperation between the public and the private sector. Steenbergen took stakeholder cooperation to a new level between the governments of Aruba and the Netherlands, KLM Airlines, the Aruba Airport Authority and the biometric vendor to provide biometric-based security while substantially enhancing the passenger experience and creating room for expansion of Happy Flow to other airlines and countries. Seamless travel solutions She holds a master’s degree from Leiden University and has also studied at University College London She has more than 20 years of international experience working in the field of border control, border management and public-private cooperation at airports, previously holding roles with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service at Schipol Airport and at headquarters in the policy department for border management. Besides her work for the government of Aruba, Steenbergen is a consultant on passenger facilitation innovation with a strong focus on seamless travel solutions, where biometrics are used as a baseline for facilitation, security and GDPR-compliant privacy, or “privacy by design.” She holds a master’s degree from Leiden University and has also studied at University College London, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of the Witwatersrand. Enhancing cutting-edge fields “Each year, the Women in Biometrics Awards recognize the best and brightest talent helping to advance biometrics technologies, which are essential to securing identities today, and the achievements of these female industry leaders are improving processes like air travel, enhancing cutting-edge fields like facial recognition and working to keep people safe,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “SIA applauds the 2020 honourees for their impressive dedication, innovation and leadership in this critical technology market and looks forward to honouring this outstanding group during SIA GovSummit.” Private industry technologists The 2020 class of Women in Biometrics Award winners astound me with their contributions to the security industry" “Once again, the 2020 class of Women in Biometrics Award winners astound me with their contributions to the security industry and society in general,” said Chris Corum, editor and publisher, SecureIDNews. “Their collective work keeps international borders secure, fights terrorism, aids law enforcement and makes our daily lives safer and more convenient.” SIA GovSummit – the annual government security conference hosted by SIA – brings together government security experts and private industry technologists for top-quality information sharing and education on security topics affecting federal, state and even local agencies. Facial recognition technology Attendees will hear keynote presentations from Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.); Brian Harrell, Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security at DHS’ Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); Daryle Hernandez, Chief of the Interagency Security Committee within DHS CISA; and Kathleen McGuiness, Auditor of Accounts for the State of Delaware. Additionally, GovSummit 2020 will feature specialized sessions on cutting-edge topics such as emerging applications of facial recognition technology, trends in federal procurement of security products and services, drones and counter-UAS technology, fever detection and camera technology in pandemic recovery and using robotics in security operations.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Infrastructure Security Division has established a strategic partnership approach to securing the nation’s critical infrastructure. Brian Harrell, the Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security, discussed at GSX 2019 CISA’s specific collaborative efforts with industry and community partners, and how their organization helps secure critical infrastructure and civilians. Unmanned aircraft systems Among the top national security threats posed today in the U.S., according to Harrell, is the rise of unwanted or hostile drones in the airspace. Drones, when in the wrong hands, are interrupting operations at military bases, airports, and correctional facilities, and threatening the safety and security of public events, such as those at stadiums and festivals. The issue of unwanted drones will only continue to escalate, and according to Harrell, "Unmanned aircraft systems do not represent an emerging threat, but rather, an imminent threat, given their retail availability here in the United States." In the U.S. and abroad, drones have interrupted operations at airports, such as Newark and Gatwick, at correctional facilities and stadiums, and critical infrastructure such as pipelines managed by Saudi Aramco. Significant technological advancements As it relates to the rise of drone technology and airspace threats, the threat landscape is ever-changing The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced at GSX that the agency has registered five times more drones (more than 1.5 million) in just four years, than all the commercial aircraft that have been registered up to now (300,000) in the history of the agency. As more drones enter the international airspace, regulations and policies must also follow suit to address the increasing safety and security risks they pose. According to Harrell, as it relates to the rise of drone technology and airspace threats, the threat landscape is ever-changing. There have been significant technological advancements in drones, and they are solving problems and helping industries with important tasks like inspections, search and rescue, and videography. With these advancements, however, comes the opportunity for misuse. Counter-Drone technology Although the airspace threat will always be evolving, Harrell provided GSX attendees with practical information and questions to ask their teams on how to build a security program that addresses and advances with the drone threat. Organizations can act today to start understanding their security gaps in their airspace. Harrell posed to the audience the question, ‘Is your organization prepared to be overwhelmed?’ As it relates to the airspace threat, without counter-drone technology, security leaders are working with incomplete information about their airspace activity. However, this gap of knowledge can change with the integration of counter-drone technology. With drone activity data, teams can then defend what assets matter most to them and protecting what Harrell qualifies as ‘pencils like pencils, and diamonds like diamonds.’ Identifying airspace activity Counter-drone technology is an essential tool that addresses this hybrid threat landscape With consideration of the evolving threat landscape, the rise and advancement of drone technology is a clear demonstration that security threats no longer fall clearly into the ‘physical’ or ‘cyber’ security categories. Drones can cause damage both to physical and cyber infrastructure. Without counter-drone intelligence to help identify airspace activity, organizations are powerless against protecting against all drone threats. Counter-drone technology is an essential tool that addresses this hybrid threat landscape. Harrell prompted GSX attendees to ask themselves, what can security providers do today to increase the understanding of security threats at our organization. He continued by outlining a four-step framework for building out a new security program or advancing an existing one. Advancing security programs Four steps to advancing security programs are as follows: Connect: Connect with local law enforcement to determine what steps you should take should there be an unwanted drone in the area. This proactive approach will ensure that those who need to respond to emergencies are aware of the threats at the operations, and can begin the next step, which is to plan. Plan: If it can happen there, it can happen here. There are drone incidents reported in the news from all over the world. No organization is immune to drone threats. If a drone incursion can paralyze operations at Heathrow and Gatwick, it can also do the same to JFK and Newark. Train: Counter-drone technology provides data about the airspace activity at a particular area and exposes where there may be vulnerabilities in an organization’s operations. Data from counter-drone programs can include flight times and durations, the types of drones flown, and the flightpath or point of origin. With situational awareness, security teams can develop new safety and response protocols to respond to drone incursions, direct resources to ‘hot spots,’ and execute training exercises. Organizations shouldn’t wait for a crisis to occur, but rather, use a crisis as an opportunity to showcase the strength of their security operations. Report: The picture is always clearer from the rear-view mirror. Post-event analysis determines where organizations can better streamline resources, achieve security goals, and grow in their understanding of how to prevent damage or disruption from a drone incursion. Unwanted drone activity “A drone is a computer in the sky,” Harrell reminds the audience. Drones are small and discrete enough to operate unnoticed, but powerful enough to drop payloads, hack into systems, or covertly spy on operations. By considering these four steps, organizations will be able to stay ahead of the drone threat and ensure the strongest defense should there be an incursion or unwanted drone activity. Many organizations will focus their efforts on compliance with standard practices and regulations Many organizations will focus their efforts on compliance with standard practices and regulations. Resilience is not built on compliance, but rather, by continuing to advance and go beyond standard practices and operations. As regulators and legislators continue to research and respond to drone incursions, individual organizations will need to decide whether or not they want to go beyond the current standards or wait for additional federal guidance. Harrell states that organizations can be proactive in defending their operations against the growing threat of uncooperative drones. Understanding airspace activity Harrell points to GSX attendees to challenge their teams with the question, “are we ready?” Can security teams confidently answer whether they have taken steps to build resilience into their existing security programs? And if not, what assets and technologies are available to make an impact today? Counter-drone programs should begin under ‘blue sky’ conditions, where security teams can connect, plan, train, and report under ideal conditions. Data collection with passive counter-drone technologies, such as radio frequency sensors, can begin immediately and without any interference with existing operations. The first step to understanding airspace activity and the threat to an organization is to build awareness and gain access to data sets and analysis. From there, organizations can which can help identify the most vulnerable or essential areas for protection.
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