This past Thursday evening Viakoo participated in a great event hosted by CapitolSec 2020 in Sacramento – a “pitchfest” where multiple technology companies came to share ideas in front of a judging panel on how their technology could be used to improve the security of election systems. While we’re proud that we were awarded as the winner based on having the most compelling technology solution to this problem, the more important takeaway is that solutions for IoT service assurance and cyber hygiene are needed for broad societal issues, not just commercial or industrial applications.
Because they model a part of the real world, “digital twins” are quickly becoming important business tools for organizations that deploy Internet of things (IoT) devices. Digital twins can help maintain industrial processes, explore new business opportunities, and develop new and enhanced connected products and services. They are particularly applicable to distributed systems such as physical security systems that include many IoT devices, where they can help solve operational issues more quickly and effectively than field diagnostics.
All too often a massive amount of effort is put into specifying, negotiating, and installing a physical security system, yet after it is installed few people can answer the question “how’s it working?”. In the IT world it is very common for uptime to be a key metric for system availability, and in some cases for the system to be specially configured to be high availability. At Viakoo we believe the same should be true for physical security systems – uptime is one of the key metrics, and it should be used to guide the system towards achieving high reliability and availability. The last thing anyone wants from a security system is low availability, right?
A few years ago at physical security industry conferences the word I heard the most was “convergence”. At that time the meaning of it was how Physical Security and IT were coming closer together, and it was a hot topic because analog technology was quickly giving way to IP-based approaches. With access control becoming tied to identity management, and surveillance being managed, stored, and analyzed on computer networks, it’s easy to see now why that convergence was critical for the industry and one that required rethinking old approaches.
The European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) have been in effect for some time now – since May 2018 – and they have already had some significant impacts on how companies around the globe collect, store, and manage data that includes personal information. In fact, the first penalty levied against an organization for non-compliance to GDPR was for video surveillance violations. Many companies that are affected by these regulations have implemented specific compliance objectives to stay ahead of requirements, which include both organizational and technical safeguards to protect the specified data.
As the physical security industry has transitioned from analog to IP-based systems, several advantages have been realized. Yet many organizations still use approaches from the old analog days to manage the lifecycle of physical security devices. Perhaps the reason is that at the device level the benefits of moving to IP are more easily realized (for example, self-test health checks by cameras, storage, VMSs, and others). But for something system-level (like lifecycle management) there have been more hoops to jump through to gain these benefits. With the advent of automated service assurance for physical security systems like Viakoo many (if not all) of these barriers are now removed, paving the way to more cost-effective and comprehensive lifecycle management.
The now infamous Target data breach was transacted by malware being placed on the HVAC system servers. A casino had its “high roller” database stolen by leveraging the network connection of an aquarium thermostat to export the file from the internal network. Leveraging the physical security system’s camera devices a bank was hacked, revealing confidential information. These are just some of the examples of how IoT devices, especially at the edge of a network, can be exploited by cyber-criminals.
There’s a popular business quote that goes something like, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” But when it comes to physical security it’s not so easy – because the most meaningful measure is in what does not happen. How many intruders were discouraged and denied? How many secrets and goods were not stolen? And how many damaging data breaches didn’t happen? In demonstrating the value of a physical security team, can we get to a point where these values could be measured, tracked, and have rewards based on it? While for now that may be wishful thinking, maybe we’re a lot closer than you might think. The growth of metrics, analytics, and machine learning in physical security is heading us in that direction.
Do you think IoT devices as part of a physical security network are a blessing or a curse?
It’s happened: you had a major failure of one (or all) parts of your physical security system. Maybe it’s something relatively minor (like the CEO not being able to get access to their office), or something truly catastrophic that is in the news and has dramatically impacted the reputation of your company (and your team). What you should do (after taking a deep breath) to regain and rebuild not just the protection offered by physical security, but the trust and belief that this will never happen again? Here’s a few “best practices” that will start to repair the damage done.