Access control readers - Expert commentary

Insider threats are on the rise – even in the virtual workplace
Insider threats are on the rise – even in the virtual workplace

More than a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic began, countless workers are still doing their jobs remotely rather than from their offices. While there are many positives to working from home, there can also be some negatives at play like nefarious actors taking advantage of the tools and connections that employees use in work from home environments. Insider threats, a security risk that comes from within the organisation, are posing a major security problem for businesses. This is partially due to the widespread use of social media, encrypted communication platforms, and other tools. Now more than ever insider threats need to be identified, thwarted, and prevented. Social distancing policies When social distancing policies and mandates began keeping people apart, many turned to social media to stay connected. While social networking tools have provided a positive outlet and a way for people to feel more connected, these platforms have also become a hotspot for insider targeting because they provide a way to propagate disinformation and target individuals likely to be receptive to it. The ideal mark for an insider threat is someone who is active on social media Even more so, they have provided a means to develop relationships with organisational insiders and socialise with them. The ideal mark for an insider threat is someone who is active on social media, has sufficient access to sensitive information, lacks supervision in their day-to-day work, and works remotely. As the relationship develops, through the process of grooming, an employee can become more likely to disregard company policies and commitments. Disregarding company policies One reason insiders might act against their own organisation involves monetary gain. The pressures of the pandemic have led to record levels of unemployment and financial strain for millions of Americans. Financial issues can include struggling to pay for childcare, supporting family obligations, paying rent and more. Those who find themselves in a financial bind might not just act against their own company but could also more easily fall victim to a threat. Another reason that insiders act is that they may be disgruntled. Insiders may hold a grudge because they were passed over for promotion, were given an unsatisfactory performance rating, or they may be facing termination. While just one of these factors may not be a trigger to involve the company’s security team, any combination of these factors along with a change in the employee’s demeanour or behaviour should serve as a red flag to pay closer attention to the situation. Potentially malicious insiders Sending confidential information to an unsecured location in the cloud exposes the organisation to risk Another challenge employers face directly relates to the somewhat limited supervision of employees who work remotely. In this situation, identifying potentially malicious insiders is more difficult, largely because face-to-face interactions are limited. When the pandemic began, many companies shifted their primary areas of focus to keeping the business viable, which is understandable. However, with this shift of focus, less attention may have been paid to security issues. The proactive company will have ensured their employees are aware of the following: Steps they should take to ensure their devices -- both company-issued and personal -- are secured at all times. Sending confidential information to an unsecured location in the cloud exposes the organisation to risk. Breaking security policies to simplify tasks is prohibited. Ensuring their devices are updated with the latest security patches. A failure in any of these areas can produce an environment ripe for malicious insider activity. Cyber security teams This multidisciplinary group can lead the initiatives that are paramount to keeping the company secure The insider threat is an organisational threat and so it is most effectively addressed from a holistic perspective. Stakeholders from different parts of the organisation need to be at the table to understand and address such threats. An effective team includes personnel from the legal, human resources, communications, and physical and cyber security teams. This multidisciplinary group can lead the initiatives that are paramount to keeping the company and its employees secure. Conduct a risk assessment of the company’s security processes or a threat assessment to the company’s people or assets. No organisation is without some level of vulnerability, so identify the most critical assets, information, and systems; identify those who have access to these critical assets; and build controls around them to provide extra security. Delivering refresher training Build a training program to help employees and management identify concerning behaviours. Educate staff about insider threat indicators and provide instructions for how to report concerns. Require employees to complete training and deliver refresher training and updates throughout the year. Training on this matter is not a one-and-done situation. Ensure there is an impartial and confidential process in place for employees to report possible insider threats. Employees need to trust that if they report concerns about behaviours or actions on the part of a fellow employee, their information will be handled discreetly and if warranted, acted upon. Write a communications strategy clearly defining the process for relaying insider threat incidents. An effective plan lays out what information and when this information should be shared with specific individuals and to the broader community, who has authority to communicate sensitive information, and how the information should be disseminated. Remote working challenges Establish a check-in process for managers and their direct reports to enable a means for employees to share concerns and for managers to identify challenges or opportunities to assist employees working in the virtual environment. Make an EAP (employee assistance program) readily available to employees. Ensure they understand how to access their EAP and assure them that contacting the EAP will not have a negative impact on their career or growth potential. Providing venues for employees to share their concerns and talk with trained staff can greatly help organisations navigate insider threats and general remote working challenges. Security risk environment The virtual workplace has created a serious security risk environment for companies in which employees who would not normally engage in insider threats become more vulnerable to them. Through new technologies and possibly due to new financial hardships, those looking to harm an organisation are out there, searching for opportunities to strike. It is leadership’s responsibility to take proactive action to ensure their employees are aware of the possibility of insider threats, the seriousness with which management views them, and the resources available should someone fall victim. It is everyone’s responsibility to remain vigilant.

The EU called for a ban on police use of facial recognition but not commercial use. Why?
The EU called for a ban on police use of facial recognition but not commercial use. Why?

Recently, the European Parliament called for a ban on police use of facial recognition. In the US, too, some cities have restricted police use of facial recognition. The first question that comes to mind is - why ban police from using technology that is allowed to private companies? Point of difference The key difference between the way police use facial recognition and the way commercial facial recognition products work is that: The police get a picture of a suspect from a crime scene and want to find out: "Who is the person in the picture?" That requires as wide a database as possible. Optimally - photos and identities of all the people in the world. Commercial facial recognition products such as those used by supermarkets, football stadiums, or casinos answer different questions: "Is the person in the picture on the employees' list? Is the person in the picture on a watch-list of known shoplifters?" To answer these questions doesn't require a broad database but rather a defined list of employees or a watch-list of specific people against whom there is an arrest warrant or a restraining order. Use of facial recognition AnyVision helps organisations leverage facial recognition ethically to identify known persons of interest "Facial Recognition Apps Should Be Provided to the Police with an Empty Database". This is exactly the subject of the open letter sent by AnyVision, to the British Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Prof. Fraser Sampson, titled: "Facial Recognition Apps Should Be Provided to the Police with an Empty Database". AnyVision recently raised $235M from Softbank and another leading VCs is a visual AI platform company that helps organisations across the globe leverage facial recognition ethically to identify known persons of interest, including shoplifters, felons, and security threats. Ethical use of facial recognition AnyVision CEO Avi Golan wrote, "The ethical use of facial recognition is a thorny one and requires a nuanced discussion. Part of that discussion has to explain how facial recognition works, but, just as important, the discussion must also involve how the technology is used by police departments and what checks and balances are built into their processes.” “We recommend building their watchlists from the ground up based on known felons, persons of interest, and missing persons. Some facial recognition solution providers have scrapped billions of photos and identities of people from social networks, usually without their consent." "Unfortunately, this method of facial recognition has justifiably angered privacy groups and data protection agencies around the globe and damaged the public trust in accuracy and reliability of facial recognition systems.” Preventing invasion of citizen’s privacy We believe an unjustified invasion of citizens' privacy can be prevented, false arrests can be reduced" “We believe that lists of suspects should be limited and justified. In this way, unjustified invasion of citizens' privacy can be prevented, false arrests can be reduced and public confidence in technology can be increased.” Golan added: "AnyVision is willing to share its industry insights and best practices from our vast research experience with leading global players, including name-brand retailers, global hospitality and entertainment companies, and law enforcement agencies from around the world.” Balancing public order and crime prevention “If the regulations set forth by Surveillance Camera Code of Practice are committed to the principles outlined above, then law enforcement agencies can strike the right balance between the need to maintain public order and prevent crime with the rights of every person to privacy and non-discrimination before the law." Recently Clearview AI CEO told Wired; the company has scraped 10 billion photos from the web - 3 times more than was previously known.

Access the right areas - Making a smart home genius with biometrics
Access the right areas - Making a smart home genius with biometrics

Household adoption of smart home systems currently sits at 12.1% and is set to grow to 21.4% by 2025, expanding the market from US$ 78.3 billion to US$ 135 billion, in the same period. Although closely linked to the growth of connectivity technologies, including 5G, tech-savvy consumers are also recognising the benefits of next-generation security systems, to protect and secure their domestic lives. Biometric technologies are already commonplace in our smartphones, PCs and payment cards, enhancing security without compromising convenience. Consequently, manufacturers and developers are taking note of biometric solutions, as a way of levelling-up their smart home solutions. Biometrics offer enhanced security As with any home, security starts at the front door and the first opportunity for biometrics to make a smart home genius lies within the smart lock. Why? Relying on inconvenient unsecure PINs and codes takes the ‘smart’ out of smart locks. As the number of connected systems in our homes increase, we cannot expect consumers to create, remember and use an ever-expanding list of unique passwords and PINs. Indeed, 60% of consumers feel they have too many to remember and the number can be as high as 85 for all personal and private accounts. Biometric solutions strengthen home access control Biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control Doing this risks consumers becoming apathetic with security, as 41% of consumers admit to re-using the same password or introducing simple minor variations, increasing the risk of hacks and breaches from weak or stolen passwords. Furthermore, continually updating and refreshing passwords, and PINs is unappealing and inconvenient. Consequently, biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control. Positives of on-device biometric storage Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint recognition uses personally identifiable information, which is stored securely on-device. By using on-device biometric storage, manufacturers are supporting the 38% of consumers, who are worried about privacy and biometrics, and potentially winning over the 17% of people, who don’t use smart home devices for this very reason. Compared to conventional security, such as passwords, PINs or even keys, which can be spoofed, stolen, forgotten or lost, biometrics is difficult to hack and near impossible to spoof. Consequently, homes secured with biometric smart locks are made safer in a significantly more seamless and convenient way for the user. Biometric smart locks Physical access in our domestic lives doesn’t end at the front door with smart locks. Biometrics has endless opportunities to ease our daily lives, replacing passwords and PINs in all devices. Biometric smart locks provide personalised access control to sensitive and hazardous areas, such as medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, safes, kitchen appliances and bike locks. They offer effective security with a touch or glance. Multi-tenanted sites, such as apartment blocks and student halls, can also become smarter and more secure. With hundreds of people occupying the same building, maintaining high levels of security is the responsibility for every individual occupant. Biometric smart locks limit entry to authorised tenants and eliminate the impact of lost or stolen keys, and passcodes. Furthermore, there’s no need for costly lock replacements and when people leave the building permanently, their data is easily removed from the device. Authorised building access Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door, but also throughout the entire building, such as washing rooms, mail rooms, bike rooms and community spaces, such as gyms. Different people might have different levels of access to these areas, depending on their contracts, creating an access control headache. But, by having biometric smart locks, security teams can ensure that only authorised people have access to the right combination of rooms and areas. Convenience of biometric access cards Additionally, if building owners have options. The biometric sensors can be integrated into the doors themselves, thereby allowing users to touch the sensor, to unlock the door and enter. Furthermore, the latest technology allows biometric access cards to be used. This embeds the sensor into a contactless keycard, allowing the user to place their thumb on the sensor and tap the card to unlock the door. This may be preferable in circumstances where contactless keycards are already in use and can be upgraded. Smarter and seamless security In tandem with the growth of the smart home ecosystem, biometrics has real potential to enhance our daily lives, by delivering smarter, seamless and more convenient security. Significant innovation has made biometrics access control faster, more accurate and secure. Furthermore, today’s sensors are durable and energy efficient. With the capacity for over 10 million touches and ultra-low power consumption, smart home system developers no longer have to worry about added power demands. As consumers continue to invest in their homes and explore new ways to secure and access them, biometrics offers a golden opportunity for market players, to differentiate and make smart homes even smarter.

Latest Pyronix Limited news

Pyronix announces the release of their wireless SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE indoor siren
Pyronix announces the release of their wireless SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE indoor siren

Pyronix is pleased to announce the release of its indoor siren with combined courtesy light, the mains-powered wireless SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE. Replicating the tones of the control panel, the SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE audibly alerts users to system activity, while the bright courtesy light on the front illuminates and flashes in conjunction with alarm events or mains fail. “We’re delighted to release the SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE, our latest added-value option for the Enforcer V11 and other Pyronix hybrid systems using the EURO-ZEM32-WE. The product provides clear audible and visual indications of system activity across the property to keep the user completely aware of any changes,” Laurence Kenny, Pyronix Marketing Director, said. Providing visual indication Following the recent release of the Enforcer V11, the SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE perfectly complements the system by replicating the chime, entry/exit, alarm, fire and even PA tones across the property to grab the user’s attention and keep them informed. The SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE perfectly complements the system by replicating the chime Meanwhile, the in-built bright courtesy light provides a visual indication of system activity; strobing in the event of alarm activation, slow flashing for a chime and illuminating constantly as the user enters/exits the property or as a safety light in the event of a fire. This functionality can be particularly useful for hard-of-hearing users; keeping them up to date with any activity. The bright courtesy light will also illuminate constantly for up to 30 minutes in the event of a mains power fail. Audible and visual indication The SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE is also compatible with the latest EURO-ZEM32-WE release with hub version 4.03.052. “We’re very pleased to add the SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE to the range and we feel this really adds value to any installation,” Laurence said. He continued: “Quickly and easily set up and configured by the installer, things like volumes and the bright courtesy light can also be adjusted by the user, should their preferences change at a later date; they can enter the setup mode on the unit to adjust the volume by five increments, as well as activate or deactivate the light.” Learned in the new ‘Arming Station/Speaker’ slots, up to four SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE’s can be added to the system for audible and visual indication of system activity. Only compatible with the Enforcer V11 or EURO-ZEM32-WE v4.03.052 onwards, the SPEAKER/SOUNDER-WE provides an easy upsell to keep users aware, grab their attention and light the way.

Pyronix announces two Enforcer tablet kits to provide installers with convenient accessibility
Pyronix announces two Enforcer tablet kits to provide installers with convenient accessibility

Pyronix is pleased to announce the release of two Enforcer tablet kits; providing the easiest and most convenient way of purchasing the Enforcer V11 control panel with the brand-new 10-inch touchscreen control station, the AndroidTablet and HomeControlHUB app. Enforcer Tablet Kit 1 (Partcode: ENF-TAB/KIT1-UK) contains: 1 x Enforcer V11 all-in-one two-way wireless control panel with Wi-Fi built onboard the main PCB 1 x AndroidTablet (compatible with HomeControlHUB app) 2x KX10DP-WE - wireless KX pet immune PIR detector 10m range 1x MC1MINI-WE - two-way wireless mini magnetic contact 1x DELTA/MOD-WE - wireless Deltabell module Enforcer Tablet Kit 2 (Partcode: ENF-TAB/KIT2-UK) contains: 1 x Enforcer V11 all-in-one two-way wireless control panel with Wi-Fi built onboard the main PCB 1 x AndroidTablet (compatible with HomeControlHUB app) 2x KX10DP-WE - wireless KX pet immune PIR detector 10m range 1x MC1MINI-WE - two-way wireless mini magnetic contact Providing enhanced installation The Enforcer V11 is the most advanced Pyronix system released to date and delivers real added value “We’re very excited to release these two kits to the market, as they provide installers with convenient accessibility to the tablet interface and all the many benefits the system provides,” Pyronix Marketing Director, Laurence Kenny, said. The Enforcer V11 is the most advanced Pyronix system released to date and delivers real added value with every installation; security, automation and video that can be tailored, controlled and scheduled for any user preference. Featuring Wi-Fi communications built onboard the main PCB, the Enforcer V11 provides enhanced installation, selectable supervision per zone, occupancy timers on zones and much more, along with compatibility with the AndroidTablet, HomeControlHUB app and SmartPlug. Free support services The AndroidTablet with HomeControlHUB not only becomes the new local programming option for the installer for the initial install and maintenance visits, but also the touchscreen security hub where the user can control their system, their Pyronix or Hikvision cameras and also the new SmartPlug to control plug-in appliances around the home. The interface also doubles as a conventional tablet for the user to use day-to-day to surf the internet The interface also doubles as a conventional tablet for the user to use day-to-day to surf the internet, watch videos and play games, or open the HomeControlHUB app to access their security, automation and video. Installers can find out all about this brand-new solution and all advantages it provides to both them and their customers, along with the extensive free support services Pyronix offers by registering to attend an Enforcer on the tour date, where they can also claim a free £20 All4One voucher. Changing user requirements “With the security market constantly having to adapt and evolve to changing user requirements, the innovations of the Enforcer V11 in combination with the AndroidTablet and HomeControlHUB interface make this the most flexible and proactive solution we’ve ever released,” Laurence said. He continued: “The tablet kits enable our installers to easily offer a complete one-platform solution that protects not only the property but also its occupants, the perimeter, vans, caravans, elderly relatives and more, while also providing access to automation around the home and camera streams for video surveillance and direct action.”

Pyronix launches ZEM8/E+P-BOX, versatile 8-zone expansion
Pyronix launches ZEM8/E+P-BOX, versatile 8-zone expansion

Pyronix announces the release of its ZEM8/E+P-BOX; a sleek and modern RS485 expander that adds 8 zones to any expandable Pyronix wired or hybrid system. Suitable for either residential or commercial settings, the ZEM8/E+P-BOX is a neat solution for refined, adaptable, and convenient zone expansion. Pyronix Marketing Director, Laurence Kenny, said, “We’re pleased to introduce the ZEM8/E+P-BOX to the market; bringing a sleek and modern design to panel zone expansion with optimised installation.” Flexible installation The ZEM8/E+P-BOX expands the control panel by 8 zones to add flexibility to any installation. The PCB features a reset button to allow jumper header address changes while the system is powered on. This is useful for changing the address of an expander, whilst the system is powered on. Simply address the expander, and then press the reset button. The installation has also been optimised on the ZEM8/E+P-BOX, with keyhole and slotted mounting holes featured on the back for easier levelling, while 4 cable tie anchorage points allow for easier cable management and a neater finish. Tamper protection P-BOX is advantageous in new house builds or restorations, where the cables can be routed into a back box The P-BOX also has front and rear tamper protection. The standard back box mounting is also advantageous in new house builds or restorations, where the cables can be routed into a back box and protected while the room is plastered. Fixing these cables before plastering provides a neater installation and protection to cabling during the first fix stage. Laurence added, “We always strive to make our customers' lives easier and installations smooth. The ZEM8/E+P-BOX do just that – delivering a tidy installation that ticks all the boxes.” The ZEM8/E+P-BOX also features additional 12V terminals; allowing installers to distribute the AUX power cables and prevent overcrowding of the terminals. An all-rounded zone expander, providing additional zones with a modern finish.

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