Automating Lifecycle Management of IP-Based Physical Security Systems

    [fa icon="calendar"] Jan 9, 2019 5:19:00 PM / by John Gallagher

    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.

    At a basic level, you can’t perform lifecycle management unless you know what you have. Keeping track of inventory can be difficult, especially if the organization has multiple sites, geographies, and management structures. More than 50% of camera devices used for surveillance are more than 5 years old, further increasing the chances that over time you’ve lost track of what you have. Often the scale of the problem is such that manual methods of knowing and keeping track of devices in your security systems just won’t work. With an automated service assurance solution all of that can be done from a single console, with the data easily exported into Excel or another application. Once you know what you have, that inventory can be added to with information like in-service date, asset tags, and other information.

    Taking that one step further, that same automation can provide detailed information on device configuration and connectivity. This provides a roadmap for service and maintenance of the system that is highly efficient – the technician is armed ahead of time knowing the unique aspects of each device. Where this is headed is the ability to send a technician out to only the specific devices that need attention and be able to take care of everything on the first visit. This eliminates significant cost, time, and human resources compared to the traditional way that many organizations approach maintaining their physical security systems, which is to have a technician go to every camera device and then figure out what needs to be done. Let’s say it’s once a year, you have 1000 cameras, and it takes 20 minutes per camera – that will cost you roughly 14 days of someone’s dedicated effort to the task, not including subsequent time and effort to fix things discovered on that first visit. With the detailed information provided by automated service assurance, the visit only happens once and it happens to a subset of all devices.

    Cyber-security is a major issue for every physical security system operator; camera devices are really small servers with processors, memory, networking, and storage, often placed outside of building or in out-of-the-way places. Not surprisingly hackers have robustly used this to their advantage, so much so that 80% of the devices used in the devastating Mirai botnet attack that brought down Netflix, Facebook, and the internet for much of the US East Coast were IP cameras and NVRs. As NIST and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) have highlighted in their models, sustainable cyber-hygiene must begin with knowing what you have, and then being able to appropriately patch and maintain it. With the ability to know the specific make, model, and firmware level of all camera devices on your system, solutions like Viakoo’s Camera Firmware Update Manager (CFUM) enables you to more easily encompass cyber-hygiene into lifecycle management and ensure all devices are maintained at the right firmware level.

    To summarize, knowing what you have in your physical security systems (and detailed information about it) is the cornerstone of effective lifecycle management. The benefits are enormous – more efficient service and maintenance, comprehensive cyber-hygiene, and data-driven plans on when and where to update equipment – and can impact any size of organization. If you’re still using manual methods (or worse, no methods at all!) for managing complex physical security systems, there has never been a better time to embrace automated service assurance. Viakoo is here to help, and we make it easy to get started. Visit www.viakoo.com/start to sign up for a demo account; one of our physical security experts will be happy to work with you on your unique needs.

    Topics: cyber, IT, service assurance, firmware

    John Gallagher

    Written by John Gallagher