Access control system accessories - Expert commentary

Get the most from investments in building security
Get the most from investments in building security

From analogue to digital, from stand-alone to interlinked, building systems are in a state of transition. Moreover, the rate of change shows no sign of slowing, which can make it difficult to keep up to date with all the latest developments. If asked to pinpoint the single biggest driver of this revolution, one could point out the growing clamour for platform convergence. A security guard in a building doesn’t want to use different systems to check video cameras, fire alarms or if someone has entered a restricted area: – it simply isn’t efficient. For similar reasons, a building manager wants a single interface to control heating and lighting to match fluctuating occupancy levels, particularly in a hybrid working model. Applying the digital glue The demand from end-users for system convergence is growing, but to achieve full interoperability you still need to apply some ‘digital glue’ and that requires expertise. Yet bringing together disparate systems from different manufacturers can be problematic. Just as you get things to work, someone upgrades their solution and your carefully implemented convergence can start to come unstuck. Managing an implementation can quickly become more complicated, today’s quick-fix can become tomorrow’s headache This is one of the principal issues with all types of new technology; not everyone will choose the same path to reach the desired goal – it’s the old VHS/Betamax argument updated for building management and security systems. Managing and maintaining an implementation can quickly become more complicated than it first appears and without proper oversight, today’s quick-fix can become tomorrow’s technical headache. Effective support for a hybrid workforce Today’s hybrid workforce is a response to the pandemic that looks set to become an established part of working life for many companies across the world. Security systems have a massive role to play in facilitating this transformation that goes beyond simple intrusion detection, access control, and video monitoring. They can identify the most densely populated areas in a building to comply with social distancing guidelines and provide efficient use of space. The insights gathered from a security system can also be used to identify patterns of behaviour, which can then be used for planning and directing the use of building space to help create the best possible working environment while also minimising heating, lighting, and air conditioning expenditures. Identity credentials can help manage compliance with industry regulations by limiting access to certain areas Similarly, identity credentials – either biometric or mobile-based – can help manage compliance to industry regulations by limiting access to certain areas only to approved employees. Creating and maintaining the appropriate level of functionality requires a combination of innovative solutions and industry experience. The complete security package It’s not just physical security that’s important – cybersecurity is a major focus, too. Bringing together both the physical security and cybersecurity realms is increasingly becoming a ‘must have’ capability. What is evident is that the pace of technological change is faster than ever. Today’s functionality simply wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago, while today’s leading-edge developments may seem commonplace in five years.

How businesses can protect their people in the new age of work
How businesses can protect their people in the new age of work

Ensuring employee health and safety remains a key priority for organisations this year, especially as we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different areas of the world. As an ongoing challenge, COVID-19 has shifted the priorities of many organisations. In fact, “improving health and safety for employees” is the top strategic goal this year of manufacturing and logistics organisations in the U.S. and U.K., according to research conducted by Forrester on behalf of STANLEY Security. But as we think about reopening and as hybrid workforce models and “workspace-on-demand” approaches rise in popularity, leaders need to consider implementing the right technologies to help ensure a safe return to the office. This means investing in health, safety, and security solutions that can help leaders protect their people. The intersection of security technology and health and safety There’s no doubt that the scope of security has expanded in the wake of the global pandemic. What was once an area governed by a select few security or IT professionals within a business has now become a crucial company investment involving many key stakeholders. The role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses Additionally, the role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses. Fortunately, security technologies have made significant strides and many solutions, both existing and new, have been thrust forward to address today’s biggest business challenges. Investment in security technology It’s important to note that businesses are eager to adopt tech that can help them protect their people. Nearly half (46%) of organisations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering an increasing investment in technology solutions that ensure employee safety. Technologies like touchless access control, visitor management systems, occupancy monitoring, and installed/wearable proximity sensors are among some of the many security technologies these organisations have implemented or are planning to implement yet this year. Facilitating a safe return to work But what does the future look like? When it comes to the post-pandemic workplace, organisations are taking a hard look at their return-to-work strategy. Flexible or hybrid workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment More than half (53%) of organisations surveyed by Forrester are looking to introduce a flexible work schedule for their employees as they make decisions about returning to work and keeping employees safe post-pandemic. Such flexible – or hybrid – workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment for all who traverse a facility or work on-site. One of the central safety and security challenges raised by these hybrid models is tracking who is present in the building at any one time – and where or how they interact. Leveraging security technology With staggered schedules and what may seem like a steady stream of people passing through, it can be difficult to know who’s an employee and who’s a visitor. Access control will be key to monitoring and managing the flow of people on-site and preventing unauthorised access. When access control systems are properly integrated with visitor management solutions, businesses can unlock further benefits and efficiencies. For instance, integrated visitor management systems can allow for pre-registration of visitors and employees – granting mobile credentials before people arrive on-site – and automated health screening surveys can be sent out in advance to help mitigate risk. Once someone reaches the premises, these systems can also be used to detect the person’s temperature and scan for a face mask, if needed.  We will likely see these types of visitor management and advanced screening solutions continue to rise in popularity, as 47% of organisations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering requiring employee health screening post-pandemic. Defining the office of the future A modern, dynamic workforce model will require an agile approach to office management. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring Businesses want to create an environment in which people feel comfortable and confident – a space where employees can collaborate and be creative. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring them that the necessary security measures are in place to ensure not only their safety but also their health. In many cases, this balancing act has created an unintended consequence: Everyone now feels like a visitor to a building. Protocols and processes With employees required to undergo the same screening processes and protocols as a guest, we’ve seen a transformation in the on-site experience. This further underscores the need for seamless, automated, and tightly integrated security solutions that can improve the employee and visitor experience, while helping to ensure health and safety. Ultimately, the future of the office is not about what a space looks like, but how people feel in it. This means adopting a “safety-always” culture, underpinned by the right technology, to ensure people that their safety remains a business’ top priority. 

Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) – what you need to know about modern and future proof access control security?
Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) – what you need to know about modern and future proof access control security?

Access control and management of trusted identities are the building blocks of security, safety, and site management policies for many businesses and organisations. The current pandemic has compounded this with the introduction of new policies and regulations, particularly around social distancing and contact tracing. Most organisations will have some form of legacy access control in place, ranging from the most simplistic options, such as locks and keys, to technology-based systems. The issue with legacy systems of any type is that risks, just like technology, evolve. What was secure, convenient, and efficient a few years ago is often found wanting as the threat landscape changes. The standards governing the development and testing of physical access control systems (PACS) have also evolved to improve security and product interoperability. An example is the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP), introduced 10 years ago as an alternative to the antiquated and vulnerable Clock-and-Data and Wiegand protocols. However, when it comes to planning infrastructure upgrades or implementing new tools, businesses must carry out due diligence to ensure the solutions are future-proof and deliver the expected level of security. Vulnerabilities and challenges In the early 1980s, Clock-and-Data and Wiegand protocols were widely adopted as the de-facto standard for interoperability between access control readers and physical access controllers. Those de-facto standards were later formalised and adopted into industry standards by the Security Industry Association in the 1990s. Wiegand is unencrypted and unable to protect from “man in the middle” attacks and vulnerabilities  There were weaknesses, though, Wiegand is unencrypted and unable to protect from “man in the middle” attacks and vulnerabilities from the reader to the controller. Not only that, but Wiegand delivers limited range options and is operationally inefficient. It is also easy to target via its learnable language and a host of hacking devices available via online sources. Furthermore, the retrofitting installation alongside a legacy system is complicated for integrators and expensive for organisations, as most readers require dedicated home-run wiring. Extensive wiring on a large-scale project, such as a school or corporate campus, results in considerable — often prohibitive — costs for the installation of a PACS. Legacy access control protocol Despite the well-publicised vulnerabilities and weaknesses, Wiegand is still one of the most common protocols in legacy access control, with estimates indicating it is used in more than 90 percent of installed systems. This not only presents issues about physical security but also raises concerns relating to the protection of personal data. Access control systems not only contain information about who can and cannot use certain doors. OSDP is a communication standard Modern systems include a wide range of personal data, ranging from qualifications and certifications of individuals, home contact details, and even medical conditions or HR and employment information. With the potential fines associated with GDPR breaches, companies need to take this concern seriously. These weaknesses pushed the security industry to adopt a new protocol: Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP). This access control communications standard was developed by Mercury Security (now part of HID Global) and HID Global in 2008, and donated, free of intellectual property, to the Security Industry Association (SIA) to improve interoperability among access control and security products. Since then, it has been adopted as a standard by SIA, becoming the first secure, bidirectional reader/controller protocol to be governed by a major standards body in the security industry. In 2020 OSDP reached an additional milestone in becoming an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard. Why implement OSDP as a standard? OSDP is the only protocol that is secure and open for communication between readers and controllers The growth of networked devices, such as video and access control products, has led to an increased demand for converged solutions. Businesses and organisations recognise the value of implementing an integrated solution to enhance security and add value to technology investment. OSDP is the only protocol that is secure and open for communication between readers and controllers and is also being widely adopted by industry-leading reader and controller manufacturers. It is an evolving, ‘living standard,’ making it a safer, more robust, future-proof option for governing physical access control systems. OSDP offers important benefits: 1) Increased security Implementing OSDP standards can increase security, as OSDP with Secure Channel Protocol (SCP) supports AES-128 encryption that is required in U.S. federal government applications. Additionally, OSDP constantly monitors wiring to protect against tampering, removing the guesswork since the encryption and authentication are predefined. 2) Bidirectional communication Early on, communication protocols such as Wiegand were unidirectional, with external card readers sending information one way to a centralized access control platform. OSDP has transformed the ability for information to be collected, shared, and acted upon with the addition of bidirectional communication for configuration, status monitoring, tampering, and malfunction detection, and other valuable functions. In fact, OSDP is the only open, non-proprietary, bidirectional, secure protocol for communication between card reader and physical access controller. 3) Open and interoperable OSDP adds new technology that enhances its ability to protect incoming and outgoing data collection OSDP supports IP communications and point-to-point serial interfaces, enabling customers to flexibly enhance system functionality as needs change and new threats emerge. They also can proactively add new technology that enhances their ability to protect incoming and outgoing data collection through a physical access control system. 4) Reduced installation costs OSDP’s use of two wires (as compared to a potential of 11 wires with Wiegand) allows for multi-drop installation, supervised connections to indicate reader malfunctions, and scalability to connect more field devices. Daisy-chaining accommodates many readers connected to a single controller, eliminating the need to run home-run wiring for each reader, and the use of a four-conductor cable achieves up to 10x longer distances between reader and controller than Wiegand while also powering the reader and sending/receiving data. 5) User friendly OSDP gives credential holders greater ease of use, with audio and visual feedback such as coloured lights, audible beeps, and the ability to display alerts on the reader. For security administrators, managing and servicing OSDP-enabled readers also becomes increasingly convenient, as OSDP-enabled readers can be remotely configured from network-connected locations. Users can poll and query readers from a central location, eliminating the cost and time to physically visit and diagnose malfunctioning devices. Unlimited application enhancements OSDP streamlines installations and upgrades while saving organisations the expense of replacing readers  OSDP supports advanced smartcard technology applications, including PKI/FICAM and biometrics, and other enhanced authentication protocols used in applications that require Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) compliance and interactive terminal capabilities. Audio-visual user feedback mechanisms provide a rich, user-centric access control environment. OSDP offers advantages for users, administrators, and integrators, alike. It adds security and real-world efficiencies, and its interoperability ensures that organisations can use systems from numerous manufacturers as they invest in infrastructure that maximises the protection of critical data. For our part, HID Global’s range of HID Signo readers is OSDP verified, ensuring they offer the intended interoperability and security for secure bidirectional communication and provide an easy migration from Wiegand devices. In a campus environment, OSDP streamlines installations and upgrades while saving organisations the expense of replacing readers if a new access control solution is implemented. There are also service and maintenance benefits as OSDP encourages continuous monitoring of system uptime and allows for remote configuration of -- or upgrades to -- a reader. Cost savings upon system upgrade Integrators can also capitalise on the introduction of OSDP by encouraging open standards, which can, in turn, help them build new customer relationships and win more projects. Although upgrading to access control systems that adhere to OSDP standards is a significant initiative, the range of benefits outweighs the cost of upgrading. Increased security coupled with business efficiencies adds value for those administering the system and a high level of interoperability ensures users can deploy systems from numerous third-party manufacturers. Integrators who understand the benefits of OSDP can also help their customers support both current and future technology requirements. When a site’s needs change, OSDP offers significant cost savings as the open functionality makes adding new devices easier and reduces the expense of requiring all readers to be replaced if a new solution is installed. Businesses and organisations transitioning to OSDP will also enhance value in terms of operational costs such as servicing and maintenance.

Latest PCSC news

PCSC and Coolfire Solutions collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security
PCSC and Coolfire Solutions collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security

PCSC, a designer and manufacturer of access control solutions and Coolfire Solutions, a St. Louis based software company known for creating Military-Grade situational awareness platforms, collaborate to deliver top-level capabilities for access and security. Coolfire Solutions created its innovative Ronin Platform to deliver software that sits on top of existing systems and infrastructure to transform data into actionable intelligence. Originally developed for the U.S. military, the Ronin Platform is being widely adopted by industry leaders and organisations who recognise the importance of placing the right data, in the right hands, in real-time, so that intelligent decisions can be made. LiNC-NXG PSIM system Stacking the Ronin Platform on top of the data provided by PCSC’s LiNC-NXG PSIM system provides a robust, real-time common operational pictureStacking the Ronin Platform on top of the data provided by PCSC’s LiNC-NXG physical security information management system provides a robust, real-time common operational picture, visually representing physical security events, and enabling a coordinated security response. For instance, urgent security related event details are pushed to mobile devices of nearby security officials for immediate action. An additional benefit, in the case of an on-premises environment, the underlying access management system is not exposed, only the top-level data is managed. Extend the capabilities of access solutions “An extremely impressive GUI for our industry and an actionable set of features extend the capabilities of PCSC’s access solutions for real-time response,” said Mas Kosaka, President and CEO of PCSC. “The expansion possibilities are virtually limitless too. We’re excited to debut the capabilities of Ronin to our Business Partners during the PCSC Symposium in conjunction with ISC West, the largest security industry trade show in the U.S.” Coolfire Solutions and PCSC have the experience and capabilities to transform the way security professionals do their job every day" “Coolfire Solutions and PCSC have the experience and capabilities to transform the way security professionals do their job every day. We can maximise the value of existing technology investments by combining data from any source and making it actionable," said Don Sharp, CEO at Coolfire Solutions. "Security professionals have an incredibly challenging job and it’s only getting tougher. By bringing all of their critical data onto a single pane of glass we can increase the level of security while driving significant operational efficiencies.”

Suprema to globally provide and support BioConnect Identity Platform
Suprema to globally provide and support BioConnect Identity Platform

The BioConnect Identity Platform provides an integration of Suprema's biometric solutions with the majority of leading access control systems BioConnect and Suprema have announced Suprema's launch of the BioConnect Identity Platform. Developed by BioConnect, Suprema's long-standing strategic partner in North America, the BioConnect Identity Platform provides an integration of Suprema's biometric solutions with majority of the leading access control systems in the global security market. Under the appointment, Suprema will provide and support the BioConnect Identity Platform globally from June 1st, 2016 onward. Powerful integration featuresWith the BioConnect Identity Platform's powerful integration features and BioConnect's and Suprema's partner eco-systems, enterprises benefit from the ability to take advantage of deploying biometrics with their existing (or their choice of) access control vendor, standards, devices and way of operating. The BioConnect Identity Platform enables the seamless integration of Suprema's biometric terminals with access control systems, ERP and time and attendance systems, supporting biometric and multi-factor authentication, biometric enrollments and user ID management. One central system The solution enables greater security, identity assurance and convenience from one central system and has ultimately changed the way that the physical access control market can consume biometrics as an authentication strategy. No other manufacturer around the world has been able to offer this level and quality of integrations - with the BioConnect Identity Platform boasting over 20. "With the BioConnect Identity Platform, BioConnect complements our goal of providing industry-leading biometric security solutions to the global market. The product is a ready-made bridge solution that provides easier integration of cutting-edge Suprema biometric technology together with a customer's choice of leading access control systems," said Young Moon, VP of Suprema. "We are looking forward to providing the BioConnect Identity Platform to a more global security market and are excited to offer our customers a seamless and cost-effective way of adopting Suprema's biometric security solutions," Moon added. Innovative technologies From the perspective of the access control provider, the BioConnect Identity Platform opens up the option to provide a Suprema biometric solution and continue to benefit from the complete product line as Suprema brings new and innovative technologies to market. "As a Suprema partner we have experienced a lot of growth in the North American and UK markets due to its leadership and continued emphasis on producing biometric products of superior quality, versatility and range," said Steve Greb, Strategic Director of Business Development at BioConnect. "We're very excited to draw on Suprema's impressive partner network and continue to build out our Quest for Rightful Identity on a global scale." Integration with leading systems The BioConnect Identity Platform integrates the following leading access control systems with the Suprema biometric terminals; ACT ACTManage, AMAG Symmetry, Axis A1001, Brivo OnAir/OnSite, Genetec Security Center, IMRON IS2000, Lenel OnGuard, Open Options dnaFusion, Paxton Net2, Honeywell ProWatch, Honeywell WINPAK, RS2 AccessIT!, S2 Netbox, Software House CCURE 9000, Stanley SecureNET, Gallagher Command Centre and now PCSC LiNC-PLUS. Suprema and BioConnect will team together to showcase the BioConnect Identity Platform at IFSEC 2016 in London on June 21st-23rd at Stand E1400.

Do’s and Don’ts of managing legacy systems – Migration better than rip-and-replace for enhancing security control system functionality
Do’s and Don’ts of managing legacy systems – Migration better than rip-and-replace for enhancing security control system functionality

Systems may be reliable and performing as originally intended, but can also beoutdated in comparison to current technology offerings Let’s start by defining what a legacy system is in the context of a security control system. Legacy refers to an installed and operating security control system made up of numerous components, both hardware and software, that have been eclipsed by newer technologies. A shortage of parts and pieces may be creeping in, and it’s also likely the older stuff has a service tech scratching his head when faced with a configuration setting or data entry protocol. The newer technologies, however, may still be providing much of the desired functionality required by the legacy system user. Legacy in this context then is not necessarily a pejorative term. The system may be both reliable and performing as originally intended but is outdated in comparison to current technology offerings both from a communications standpoint and as it relates to applications and data mining. So what to do? For openers, as my dad would day, do a Ben Franklin list of do’s and don’ts. Naturally you’d love to move to a new, bigger or smaller, better and faster system. But, first, what does that list look like? I for one think is might begin to look like this: Things to do when managing legacy systems Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used. Revisit your systems capabilities: You are likely to make some pleasant discoveries. Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used Do you currently know how all of the pieces and parts in your system are currently communicating? A great start for planning the next steps is to understand the “plumbing.” Associated with that is the location of communication; specifically, how are things wired and where are they terminated, recorded and catalogued? What does your power distribution for the system components look like? Do you have backup and other means of maintaining operations during a loss of power, and where is that stuff? If not done recently, this step provides an opportunity to ensure you are ready for things that don’t happen and also to revisit codes. It’s always worthwhile if a maintenance provider is available to a system test in this area, or it can be self-conducted. What is the state of your record management, and when was the last time you did some basic housekeeping, such as backup and the like? If you don’t remember when you did it last, stop reading and go do some housekeeping — it’s clearly due now! What works for you and your organisation, and what have you developed a work-around for? If your “super users” have found ways to manage desired system outcomes by some clever workaround, are there other desired features?  Do you have a relationship with an authorised service provider or an on-staff trained first responder? Do you have attic stock (stuff you own) to support those older components? I like to think of it like making a road trip with a spare tire and basics in the trunk in case an extended unplanned stop on the side of the road interrupts your trip. Have you developed a plan for an eventual upgrade? What’s first, what does it cost and whom will I let provide pricing to do so?  Rip-and-replace isn't your only option. There are many products and servicesavailable to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure Planning and management What are my/your basic functional requirements, and where are the gaps now you must fill for enterprise sustainability? That legacy system likely has paid its way and now needs to be retired; I’m not ready either. Do you have a business case for this refresh – applications, data mining, new and reporting and risk mitigation strategies? If not, you are missing this first step of legacy migration planning and management. Managing the age includes a system exit strategy. Getting C suite, namely your CFO’s, attention is key; sustainability of your enterprise is 101, so functionality as it relates to risk mitigation is essential to keeping your entity flourishing. So what are the DON’T’s? Don’t trivialise the migration or response to the Do’s or you’ll end up in a big To Do. Don’t minimise the relationship with existing integration resources you have worked with, old and new. Organisations evolve, some for the best, some not so. Refresh these relationships as well; resources are like bridges – you never know when a crossing is needed. Don’t rush into the latest and greatest; be wary of who’s definition you subscribe to. There’s a reason they call it the “cutting” edge. Don’t believe that rip-and-replace is your only option. There are many legacy systems in our industry, and many well-made and well-thought-out products and services are available to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure. The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership. If your legacy includes some products with forward-thinking engineering thought leadership, you may be able to manage your needs with security control board-level replacements or the flashing of new firmware and upgrades to software. I‘m aware of several companies whose products elegantly move through time, adding new applications and functionality without wholesale rip-and-replace. These legacies carry on. The market has responded to you and others eager to know their options. There are many ingenious and clever ways to upgrade communications and transport of data, reliable mainstream products designed to meet this challenge head-on. There are solutions aimed at allowing you to use current IT and Internet of Things (IoT) apps and functionality. However, there are also quite a number of technology partners able help make the leap from analogue to digital using existing pathways. The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership. They are most likely to produce the best results and allow you to leave behind the legacy you want to be associated with.

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