Published June 21, 2011
From a simple airport scan to hi-tech bio detection to hands-on training for a local police force, homeland security is big business.
Security consultants say it's no surprise that the industry has seen massive growth since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2011.
"The reason why is because I think Americans after 9/11 woke up, and they kind of decided to stay awake," said Aaron Cohen, a former member of Israeli Special Forces.
His firm, IMS Security, has been an example of the security industry's growth, and he described it as "an industry where you've got the smartest people competing against each other to come out with the most innovative products."
"You're talking about the direct safety of millions and millions of people," Cohen said.
The industry is as varied as infrared cameras, body scanners and explosive detectors -- and it's estimated to grow 13 percent annually through 2013.
Cohen says companies like his represent a small piece of an industry intent on protecting people and infrastructure and intertwined with all aspects of everyday life and commerce.
On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the world's largest counterterrorism organization, making up 40 percent of global homeland security funding in 2010.
Much of that spending makes its way to the local level, where law enforcement agencies continue to look for advancements in technology and tactics to help reduce the threats of terrorism.
Sgt. Brian Muller of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has long been involved in security advancements. "Superior tactics reduce risks," he said. "And if there is some type of technology that we can exploit -- so that we will be able to serve the public better, do it safely, keep things within constitutional limits, not violate people's rights, apprehend the bad guy and make the community safe -- we're interested in looking at that type of technology."
Muller said that the business of protecting the country and its people is also personal.
"Not only am I wearing a uniform of the member of the law enforcement community, but I am part of the community. My wife is. My kids are," he said. "So if there are some technologies that make our community safer for the threats we're starting to face in this new century, then it's important to everybody whether they realize it or not."
The multibillion-dollar homeland security industry now includes the added perils posed by a world where everyone is online, making the fight to secure our freedom more important than ever as the threat of cyberattacks expand.
Add to the industry the purchasing power outside America, and it's easy to see that business of security is booming.