Access control readers - Expert commentary

ISC West 2019: what's new in physical security's biggest global tradeshow?
ISC West 2019: what's new in physical security's biggest global tradeshow?

ISC West continues to innovate and adapt to the changing needs of the security marketplace. In 2019, there will be 200 new exhibitors, 100 new speakers and an expanding mix of attendees that includes more end users and international attendees. The International Security Conference & Exposition (ISC West) will be held April 10-12 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. Among the more than 200 new exhibitors on the show floor will be Dell Technologies, Resideo, SAST (a Bosch IoT startup), Belkin International, NetApp, Lenovo, Kingston Technology and many others. The event continues to see more and more solutions in the area of IoT/connected security, a surge in barrier/bollards exhibitors, an increased number of start-up companies, and an emphasis this year on stadium/major events security. Plus, the new exhibit area of ISC West, Venetian Ballroom, will include a mix of solutions from mid-sized domestic and international companies, and is the home of the Emerging Technology Zone – back for its second year with 50-plus start-up companies expected.  The International Security Conference & Exposition (ISC West) will be held April 10-12 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas “ISC West is no longer just about video cameras, access control systems and alarms,” says Will Wise, Group Vice President, Security Portfolio for Reed Exhibitions, which produces and manages ISC West. Embracing and stimulating the market dynamic of comprehensive security for a safer, connected world, solutions on display at the show reflect convergence across physical security, IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology). The ISC West expo floor includes specialised featured areas such Connected Home, Public Safety & Security, Connected Security, Unmanned Security Expo and the Emerging Technology Zone. Plus, complimentary education sessions in the Unmanned Security Expo theatre will include topics such as drones, counter-drone solutions, ground robotics and regulations/policies that support autonomous technology. This year’s event will feature more than 1,000 products and brands covering everything from video surveillance, access control and alarms/alerts, to IoT, IT/cybersecurity convergence, AI, embedded systems, drones and robotics, smart homes, smart cities, public safety and more. The ISC West expo floor includes specialised featured areas such Connected Home and the Emerging Technology Zone  Elevating the Keynote Series  Over the past few years, ISC West has elevated its Keynote Series (open to all attendee types) to include more speakers and dynamic content covering relevant topics. Attendees should be sure to head to the Keynote room Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 8:30 a.m. before the expo floor opens at 10 a.m.  Relating to attendance, ISC West continues to diversify and grow the attendee universe by attracting additional enterprise government end-users across physical and IT/OT responsibilities. The show also continues to attract and grow the channel audience, and there will be an increasing number of International attendees.  “Years ago, ISC West was known exclusively as a dealer/integrator/installer show, but not anymore,” says Wise. “Today, the demographic mix continues to evolve as the event diversifies its product and educational offerings, embracing the current market reality of collaboration among integrators/dealers/installers, end-user decision-makers, and public safety and security professionals.”  When planning for the show, be sure to view the list of special events and take advantage of the additional connection-making opportunities Within the SIA Education@ISC West conference program, there are over 100 new speakers. Through ISC West’s strong partnership with the Security Industry Association (SIA, the Premier Sponsor of ISC), the SIA Education@ISC West program has expanded and become increasingly dynamic and diverse over the last three years. In addition, ISC West and SIA are hosting a Women in Security breakfast on Friday morning April 12th.  Women in Security is a new track for the education program.    “Our attendance data reflects the demand for a mix of physical security integrator and end-user content, a balance of technical and management/strategic topics, and diverse topics incorporating IoT and cybersecurity/physical security convergence, and analytics expertise,” says Wise. “Last year was a record year for conference program attendance, and 2019 will yet again set new benchmarks.” Mobile apps, information desks and ease of registration ISC West is also focusing on the attendee experience. Need advice on what exhibitors are a fit for your business needs and interests? The Information Desk adjacent to the main expo entrance will provide customised recommendations based on the information attendees provided during the registration process.  Attendees can download the official ISC West mobile app and create a MyShow account through the ISC West website Attendees can download the official ISC West mobile app and create a MyShow account through the ISC West website to research exhibitors and product categories, receive exhibitor recommendations that best fit business needs, review complimentary educational opportunities as well as 85-plus sessions from the paid SIA Education@ISC program.  There are many networking opportunities being offered at the show this year. When planning for the show, be sure to view the list of special events and take advantage of the additional connection-making opportunities.  Whether attendees want to network with peers or customers at an awards ceremony (Sammy Awards, Fast 50, New Product Showcase Awards), Charity event (AIREF Golf Classic, Mission 500 Security 5K-2K Run/Walk), or an industry party (SIA Market Leaders Reception, ISC West Customer Appreciation Party at Tao), there are a variety of special events offered, all designed to help you make new connections. Make sure to check out the ISC West website for all the Special Events taking place at ISC West.

Open Supervised Data Protocol (OSDP): the gold standard for access control installations
Open Supervised Data Protocol (OSDP): the gold standard for access control installations

Today’s security industry technology standards create a common framework for achieving predictable performance. Systems are made more secure and easier to install, use and integrate with other devices. Standards are also intended to be living documents, open to continual refinements to benefit manufacturers, integrators and end users. An excellent example is the Open Supervised Data Protocol (OSDP), which is now the industry’s gold standard for physical access control installations. It was designed to offer a higher level of security with more flexible options than the aging defacto Weigand wiring standard. Updating OSDP-readers simultaneously One recent addition enables end users to push firmware and software updates to thousands of OSDP-enabled card readers simultaneouslyOSDP, first introduced in 2011 by the Security Industry Association (SIA), continues to evolve with significant manufacturer input. One recent addition enables end users to push firmware and/or software updates to a few or thousands of OSDP-enabled card readers simultaneously. Weigand technology requires updates to be made one at a time at each reader. Regularly changing reader encryption keys is an excellent way to enhance facility security. It’s easy using the OSDP file transfer capability and the latest DESFire EV2 credentials containing multiple encryption keys. You can transfer the next code on the card to all readers and the job is done. And there’s no need to create a new card for each user or reprogram each individual reader. AES-128 encryption ensures cybersecurity It’s time to migrate entirely away from Weigand technology. If greater security, convenience and reduced labour from the latest OSDP updates isn’t reason enough, here are a few more things to consider. The 40-year-old Weigand protocol provides no signal encryption, making it easy for hackers to capture the raw data transmitted between cards and readers. OSDP readers support AES-128 encryption while providing continuous monitoring of wires to guard against cybercriminals. Weigand reader installations require homerun cable pulls from the control panel to each peripheral device. OSDP readers can be daisy chained, providing additional savings on cabling and installation time. Weigand technology is simply too slow to work with today’s most versatile and secure card technologies. OSDP readers work with virtually all modern access control cards. The OSDP standard also works with biometric devices; Weigand does not. Meeting requirements of FICAM guidelines SIA is pushing to make the latest OSDP version a standard recognised by the ANSI, a move to enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. security businessesAlso, OSDP is becoming a must-have standard for organisations demanding the highest security levels. The standard meets requirements of the Federal Identity, Credential and Access Management (FICAM) guidelines that affect how the access control industry does business with the federal government. SIA is pushing to make the latest OSDP version a standard recognised by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI), a move to enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. security businesses. There’s still a large worldwide reader installation base that works solely with the Weigand protocol. Admittedly, changing them all at one time may be prohibitively expensive; however, standards should be viewed as a journey, not a destination. That’s why a measured migration is the right choice for many organisations. Begin by securing the perimeter. Replace only the outside-facing Weigand readers. As long as the walls are secured, the inside can remain a softer target until OSDP-compatible readers can be added indoors. The case for moving to OSDP as a standard is compelling. It offers our industry the opportunity to design access control software and products that provide what end users want most – greater security, flexibility and convenience.

Debunking the myths of the security of access control systems
Debunking the myths of the security of access control systems

It’s not surprising that people are nervous about the security of newer technologies, many of which are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). While they offer greater efficiency and connectivity, some people still hesitate. After all, there seems to be a constant stream of news stories about multinational corporations being breached or hackers taking control of smart home devices. Both of these scenarios can feel personal. No one likes the idea of their data falling into criminal hands. And we especially don’t like the thought that someone can, even virtually, come into our private spaces. The reality, though, is that, when you choose the right technology and undertake the proper procedures, IoT devices are incredibly secure. That said, one of the spaces where we see continued confusion is around access control systems (ACS) that are deployed over networks, particularly in relation to mobile access, smartcards, and electronic locks. These technologies are often perceived as being less secure and therefore more vulnerable to attacks than older ACS systems or devices. In the interest of clearing up any confusion, it is important to provide good, reliable information. With this in mind, there are some myths out there about the security of ACS that need to be debunked. The fact that these devices communicate with an ACS via Bluetooth or Near Field Communication (NFC) leads to one of the main myths we encounter Myth #1: Mobile credentials are not secure The first myth we have to look at exists around mobile credentials. Mobile credentials allow cardholders to access secured doors and areas with their mobile devices. The fact that these devices communicate with an ACS via Bluetooth or Near Field Communication (NFC) leads to one of the main myths we encounter about the security of credentialed information. There is a persistent belief that Bluetooth is not secure. In particular, people seem to be concerned that using mobile credentials makes your organisation more vulnerable to skimming attacks. While focusing on the medium of communication is an important consideration when an organisation deploys a mobile credentialing system, the concerns about Bluetooth miss the mark. Bluetooth and NFC are simply channels over which information is transmitted. Believing that Bluetooth is not secure would be the same as suggesting that the internet is not secure. In both cases, the security of your communication depends on the technology, protocols, and safeguards we all have in place. So, instead of wondering about Bluetooth or NFC, users should be focused on the security of the devices themselves. Before deploying mobile credentials, ask your vendor (1) how the credential is generated, stored, and secured on the device, (2) how the device communicates with the reader, and (3) how the reader securely accesses the credential information. When you deploy smartcard technology as part of your ACS, you should choose the latest generation, such as MiFARE DesFIRE EV1 or EV2 and HID iCLASS SEOS Myth #2: All smartcards are equally secure The question “how secure are my smartcards?” is a serious one. And the answer can depend on the generation of the cards themselves. For example, while older smartcards like MiFARE CLASSIC and HID iCLASS Classic offer better encryption than proxy cards and magstripe credentials, they have been compromised. Using these older technologies can make your organisation vulnerable. As a result, when you deploy smartcard technology as part of your ACS, you should choose the latest generation, such as MiFARE DesFIRE EV1 or EV2 and HID iCLASS SEOS. In this way, you will be protecting your system as well as your buildings or facilities. Some traditional readers and controllers can also pose a serious risk to your organisation if they use the Wiegand protocol, which offers no security. While you can upgrade to a more secure protocol like OSDP version 2, electronic locks are a very secure alternative worth considering. It is also important to understand that not all smartcard readers are compatible with all smartcard types. When they are not compatible, the built-in security designed to keep your system safe will not match up and you will essentially forego security as your smartcard-reader will not read the credentials at all. Instead, it will simply read the non-secure portion—the Card Serial Number (CSN) —of the smartcard that is accessible to everyone. While some manufacturers suggest that this is an advantage because their readers can work with any smartcard, the truth is that they are not reading from the secure part of the card, which can put your system and premises at risk. Using electronic locks can help protect facilities and networks through various security protocols, including encryption and authentication Myth #3: Electronic locks are more vulnerable These days, there are still many who believe that electronic locks, especially wireless locks, are more vulnerable to cybercriminal activity as compared to traditional readers and controllers. The concern here is that electronic locks can allow cybercriminals to both access your network to get data and intercept commands from the gateway or nodes over the air that would allow them access to your buildings or facilities. The reality is that using electronic locks can help protect facilities and networks through various security protocols, including encryption and authentication. Additionally, because many of these locks remain operational regardless of network status, they provide real-time door monitoring. This means that many electronic locks not only prevent unauthorised access but also keep operators informed about their status at all times, even if a network goes down. Outdated technology and old analogue systems are more vulnerable to attacks When it comes to deploying electronic locks, it is important to remember that, like any device on your network, they must have built-in security features that will allow you to keep your information, people, and facilities safe. Be prepared to unlock future benefits Ultimately, the information in your IP-based ACS is at no greater risk than any other information being transmitted over the network. We just have to be smart about how we connect, transmit, and store our data. In the end, maintaining the status quo and refusing to move away from old technology is not a viable option. Outdated technology and old analogue systems are more vulnerable to attacks. The reason it is so important to debunk myths around ACS and, at the same time, get people thinking about network security in the right way is that network-based systems can offer an ever-increasing number of benefits. When we deploy new technology using industry best practices and purchase devices from trusted vendors, we put ourselves and our networks in the best possible position to take full advantage of all that our increasingly connected world has to offer.