Earlier this summer the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security (CCHS) at Auburn University in conjunction with the International Security Management Association (ISMA) released a new survey that reflected how the C-suite views the evolving roles of cyber and physical security risks and mitigation strategies within their organizations. As October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the timely findings of the research highlight the fact there has been a seismic shift in how organizations approach the relationship between the cyber and physical security threats they face.
Physical security systems can be managed and operated in a variety of ways – some methods lead to flawless operation, and some lead to quite the opposite. But when having an operational physical security system is critical – for life safety, business impact of a failure, or other unacceptable outcomes – then it becomes important to know that the system is in fact operating exactly as it should. This is the domain of compliance.
Many organizations are implementing, or have already implemented, cloud-based physical security services to supplement or replace instances of on-premises software and processing. The trend to make everything into “as-a-Service” has brought us popular cloud services including CRM systems such as Salesforce, communication systems such as GoToMeeting, and shared storage such as Box. Security systems “as-a-Service” are also rapidly growing, including cloud-based identity management, access control, and video surveillance, among others. With more than 20,000 cloud services available, consumers and businesses alike have quickly become accustomed to their advantages, including greatly improved access from any connected location, and greatly improved collaboration with other contributors.
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.
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.
Every security integrator faces this issue. Your customers purchase new physical security systems and devices in order to benefit from the security and risk-reduction features they offer. Once deployed, however, these devices can actually increase risk and liability if they stop operating properly without the user becoming aware of the disruption. The risk compounds when you consider that new IoT (Internet of Things) enabled devices are being introduced to the market and added to users’ networks at an accelerating rate.