dUm's Penance - Security Systems

In the paranoid World of Progress, security systems have become not only the frontline against intruders but also a necessary defence against Tek Trex robots. Although palmprint readers and passcards are still used for primitive systems, the use of iris scans, biometric scanners, and even DNA-readers has become ubiquitous in important areas. Given the efficiency of these systems, intrusion has become increasingly more difficult unless one employs expensive counter-measures. The following systems and counter-measures are in general use.

Biometric scanners perform a low-level scan of a person's body, especially the facial features, and then compare with a smart adaptive image in a database. Changes in weight, glasses, broken noses and such are corrected-for by the scanner. The bio-scanner also samples a person's genetic code from the particles floating around the body and compares it to the databank in microseconds. Bio-scanners are non-intrusive - a person walking through a security gate is not even slowed down during the procedure, and probably won't notice it.

Known Counter-Measures:
Doppelganger Skins were invented to bypass biometric scanners. The skin is grown from the DNA of an approved employee from the secure facility and moulded to conform to the person's physical features. This is, of course, an expensive and time-consuming process, and will only last for about a day before deformities in the 'skin' develop and are noticed by biometrics.

Keypads and cardlocks are generally considered as obsolete as circuit-break alarms, but magnetic locks are still used by the general populace. Maglocks require a proper passkey, usually in combination with another security system. Bypassing these devices is generally quite easy.

Iris-scanners were an excellent security system about ten years ago, when few people had the necessary genetic engineering skills to grow a cloned iris to order. Nowadays such operations are common on the black market, and iris scans are no longer the cutting edge. Iris scans rely on a weak laser to scan the iris of a person's eye. An iris has more than 250 discrete unique elements, as opposed to only about 35 for fingerprints, and an iris does not change over the course of a lifetime, a significant advantage in areas (such as executive suites) where non-intrusive polite systems are required. Iris scans are the most reliable system (1 in a million chance of error), and are used in areas where mistakes are unacceptable.

Sniffers take millions of air-samples from around an object/person and determine the chemical composition based on free-floating residue. Only super-hermetically sealed objects do not emit residues. Sniffers are good for detecting weapons and explosives, but poor for personnel identification. As such they are rarely used.

Heat sensors detect any changes in ambient room temperature and/or localized sources of heat/cold which may be human-shaped. Heat sensors are also part of the fire-detection system.

Known Counter-Measures:
Fuzzballs are small gadgets that emit waves of either heat or cold so as to conceal a person's thermal signature. They must be properly calibrated to the sensor's detection parameters or they will fail. Since heat-sensors must have high detection thresholds (or they would give false alarms on every warm day), they can be avoided by using Coolsuits set below the activation threshold.

Pressure sensors are either simple pads which activate an alarm when stepped upon/touched, or more sophisticated room sensors which detect changes in ambient pressure, indicating a break-in. The latter are often found in pressurized chambers such as bank vaults and laboratories. Pressure sensors are only used in areas which are rarely visited.

Cameras are capable of switching between spectrum frequencies such as infrared and ultraviolet. Smart cameras (nicknamed Smarteyes) are connected to citizen/criminal databases that can identify a person from their posture, appearance, facial features or other characteristics. Regular cameras are the size of a marble and a normal building has hundreds of them installed in many places. Unlike in the past, there are no donut-munching rent-a-cops looking at the video output of every camera. Such a task would take too long, and security guards are notoriously unreliable at this boring function. Instead the computer system uses pseudo-AIs to detect intruders by identifying the shape of moving objects in the picture. Once the AI is reasonably certain of a problem, it alerts human supervisors.

Known Counter-Measures:
Small holographic projectors can be used to take a snapshot of a location and project it by laser into the camera's viewer. ECM Capes/Chamoskins can be used to evade visual detection or to alter the shape/outline of the intruder, confusing the AI. Databank profiles can be altered so that the AI identifies the intruders as friends, even if they're carrying an arsenal of weaponry. Cameras can be shorted-out by a strong electromagnetic pulse.

Laser audio is an acoustic sensor system which can be used to hear tiny noises from across a hall by picking up the vibrations off any smooth surface (such as glass).

Known Counter-Measures:
Laser audio can be blanked with white noise generators or subverted with false noise recordings.

Motion sensors are usually combined with millimetre-radar to detect movement within certain specific parameters, and can thus be avoided by moving within their 'safe' movement rate. This is generally set at around 1 centimetre per second. Really paranoid security can calibrate the parameters to zero if they are sure no insects will ever enter the room. Motion sensors are prone to false alarms, so are used only in ultra-secure installations.

Sonic screens are harmless barriers which keep out insects and other vermin by inducing a painful planed signal to anything smaller than a cat. They kill parasites and bugs on contact and are often installed in office building doorways and windows.

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Published on: 2002-05-15 (61 reads)