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Residential Estate Security Handbook 2017


Assessing risks in security technology systems
September 2017, This Week's Editor's Pick, Security Services & Risk Management, Residential Estate (Industry)

The process of risk assessment and implementing mitigating actions is well known to us all. In the business world, the risk assessment process is often undertaken following the PESTEL format. PESTEL refers to the components that need to be evaluated, i.e. PESTEL stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technology, Environmental, Legal.

Rob Anderson
Rob Anderson

To a large extent, this approach does carry over to the methods used when doing a security risk assessment. It is, however, unusual for the security risk assessment to evaluate the risks ‘embedded’ in the technology solutions, be they existing or new technology. Even more interesting is that the technology solution was probably implemented because of a physical risk assessment. The technology was used to mitigate the physical risk, and much to the surprise of all, it comes with its own risks.

One of the challenges is that the technical risk assessment needs to be undertaken by a technically competent person who understands the risk assessment process. Do these individuals exist? Probably, yes, but they are few and far between.

Common risks

Let’s look at some of the technology risks that are most common, easy to assess and resolve. At present, the biggest risk must be the sudden rush of ransomware and virus infections. If these get into your security system you will remember it for a long while. The problem is that almost 100% of security systems are connected to the Internet. The security ‘guru’ will tell you this is vital for:

(a) Software upgrades

(b) Remote maintenance

(c) Cloud-based security systems

Before the digital age, we had ’closed’ systems, now it seems that this is not possible. The solution, employ a specialist who puts actions and processes in place to reduce the risk, and provide a recovery solution for when your systems are attacked by a cyber criminal. True to form, most organisations take action after the first infection.

Moving on to the other risks seen on many sites:

Camera systems

Have you checked that the camera is still recording? If the camera has been set up with analytics, is it still functioning as planned? What happens when the power fails? Is there a backup power system (that works)? Is the camera still showing the view intended and does it provide a good picture 24/7?

And of course, in the IP camera world the threat of the camera being ‘hacked’ has become real.

Power backup systems

• How often are the batteries checked to see if they are at the end of their life?

• Does the standby generator support the UPS correctly, or does the UPS see the generator as a ‘bad supply’ and runs on batteries?

• Are cables sized correctly so that voltage drops are not excessive?

Lightning and surge damage

• Are the power as well as data systems backed up with surge protection?

• Does the earth system comply with the surge protection equipment requirements?

• Surge protectors fail and need to be checked regularly. Is that being done?

Data backup

We have all learnt the hard way, so in most cases this is being done. The most common problems are:

• The system fault or virus migrates to the backup as well. Then there is no backup other than an accurate copy of the problem.

• Has anyone ever tried to recover the system from the backup to see if it works?

Access control systems

The access control systems are just as good as the current database of valid users and the way the system is used. In most cases (hopefully), the access control is synchronised with the CCTV to create a visual image of the person gaining access and egress. The most common failures here are:

• The security guard gives access and there is no visual or data record of the transaction.

• The database is years old. People still have access that should not.

• The database backup method is incorrect. This is most often the case with the SQL database.

• Who has the system setup access codes? Have they been shared? Or worse, if the maintenance chap is gone, how do you get into the system? But don’t worry, in most cases the systems are run on the default access codes…

Installation defects

This is probably the most common area of concern.

• Are there drawings and network diagrams of the systems? If not, what happens when service providers change?

• Are cables numbered and installed neatly so that it’s possible to trace faults?

• Have the correct cable types been used? Solid core, braided core, current carrying capacity etc.

• Is the electric fence energiser installed well away from the other components?

• Is there fuse or circuit breaker protection on the power circuits?

• Has the surge protection been by-passed?

• Are there tamper switches, power fail and low battery notification systems?

• Have all the system clocks been synced to one time?

The maintenance contract and procedures

So, the systems are all well managed and kept as risk free as possible. And then the monthly maintenance crew arrived and switched some equipment off for repairs and maintenance. As luck will have it, there is an incident while the equipment is off. We usually call it bad luck, but actually it is a real risk and there must be procedures to be able maintain a minimum level of security.

Interlinkages and dependences

The above risks are often linked: e.g. if the power fails then your other systems go down. Some interlinkages and dependencies will be obvious, but others less so. Does anyone consider mapping these and trying to work out how robust the whole system is?

This is a situation that we have all found ourselves in, with systems failing and we can’t believe so much can go wrong at the same time. Well, maybe it was one of those ‘lurking’ risks we need to be aware of.

And so, we can go on evaluating possible risks in the technology and putting actions in place to reduce the chance of a risk showing its potential. For the security technology sector to mature and play a positive part in this industry, much needs to be done to manage these risks.

Being aware of them is the first step.

Taking action is the most important next step to provide reliable solutions, and it has to be a client and integrator/ service provider joint action.

Let’s reduce our technology risks in the security sector.


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Adamastor Consulting
Tel: 086 099 5269
Fax: 086 211 0993
Email: rob@adamastor.co.za
www: www.adamastor.co.za
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Further reading:

  • Awareness and trust in context
    November 2017, CA Southern Africa, Access Control & Identity Management, Security Services & Risk Management
    Markus Krauss, senior director, Digital Identity and Security, CA Technologies, spoke to Hi-Tech Security Solutions about making identity work for people and things.
  • People on the move
    November 2017, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, Integrated Solutions, IT infrastructure
    Sanjay Dharwadker looks at some of the changes that have been enacted to better manage Europe’s borders.
  • Access and identity: looking ahead
    November 2017, neaMetrics, ZKTeco, Powell Tronics, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, Integrated Solutions
    Access and identity is more important than ever with more options than ever for companies looking for solutions that go beyond mere entry and exit.
  • Trusting your privilege
    November 2017, Technews Publishing, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, Integrated Solutions
    Privileged access management is the starting point for effective enterprise identity and access management, whichever device you're logging in from.
  • The access edge
    November 2017, Johnson Controls, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, Integrated Solutions, Security Services & Risk Management
    With the common denominator of IP networks as their backbone, building automation, security and, in particular, access control systems are increasingly providing opportunities to both security integrators and building managers.
  • Facing the future
    November 2017, neaMetrics, Virdi Distribution SA, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, IT infrastructure
    Facial biometrics is coming into its own today, but is it a 100% reliable means of identity verification and authentication?
  • Key management in 2018
    November 2017, Zonke Monitoring Systems, Access Control & Identity Management, Security Services & Risk Management
    With all the technology available today, you would think we were past using old-fashioned keys for security, but far from it.
  • Securing your access security
    November 2017, G4S South Africa, Impro Technologies, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, Cyber Security
    While one may not consider access control solutions a prime hacking target, any connected device is a target in today’s world.
  • Ding dong, it’s IP
    November 2017, Elvey, TOA Electronics, Zhejiang Dahua Technology, CAME BPT South Africa, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management
    IP and open standards have taken the security technology world to a new level where proprietary systems and customer lock-in are no longer the global standard.
  • Access a mobile-first world
    November 2017, Axis Communications SA, This Week's Editor's Pick, Access Control & Identity Management, IT infrastructure
    Mobile access control enables mobile devices – such as smartphones and wearables – to function as credentials in providing access to secured buildings, rooms and areas.
  • Why own when you can rent?
    November 2017, EOH Security & Building Technologies, Access Control & Identity Management, Security Services & Risk Management
    In a rapid changing environment, business is moving away from owning security equipment to a model of serviced rentals.
  • Smart cities are built on smart thinking
    November 2017, Technews Publishing, This Week's Editor's Pick, Integrated Solutions, IT infrastructure
    The smart city concept integrates ICT and various physical devices connected to the network to optimise the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens.

 
 
         
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