ISONAS' new software development kit offers customers the power of choice in access control hardware
ISONAS' new software development kit offers customers the power of choice in access control hardware

ISONAS has taken its Software Development Kit to the next level and now offers a simple integration with the ISONAS Pure IP™ hardware solutions, giving customers real choice in their access control hardware. Access control evolution Partners can now create a powerful solution and add the next evolution in access control hardware to their product selection; while benefiting from future proofing their selections, reducing costs and giving them choice in their access control hardware. This comprehensive software development kit from ISONAS, makes it easy to integrate 3rd party access control software with the ISONAS Pure IP hardware families. ISONAS SDK platform While other SDK’s use low-level, error-prone TCP/IP communication to integrate, the ISONAS SDK platform supports high-level management mechanisms for event management, local discovery, communication and configuration. Using the .NET framework, the ISONAS SDK allows users to customise which features and functions of the ISONAS hardware to implement. With the ISONAS SDK, partners can add choice to their access control hardware solutions and go to market in no time. An open platform philosophy is nothing new to ISONAS. The company has a long history of integrations and with this significant investment into a modern SDK, ISONAS is furthering its mission to become a global player in open architecture hardware and software.

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Access control software - Expert commentary

Protect physical assets from cyber-attacks
Protect physical assets from cyber-attacks

Recent cyber-attacks have disabled and even shut down physical assets. Robust foundational security and training staff, able to recognise an attack can help mitigate the threat, as ABB’s Rob Putman explains. Edge devices and data analytics As cyber security specialists, we must navigate an ever-changing threat landscape, one that is made even more complex by the increased interconnectivity between Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT), as companies look to leverage edge devices and data analytics, as well as remote connectivity, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the threat surface evolves, the industry must guard against attacks on key physical infrastructure, carried out by a range of malicious actors, including nation states and criminals intent on blackmail. The chemicals sector, a high-value target for cyber-criminals Cyber-criminals view the chemicals sector, as a high-value target, because of the potential cost In 2017, not long after a ransomware attack that targeted Maersk, the world’s largest shipping firm, made the news around the world. Another cyber-attack, this time targeting physical industrial assets, generated fewer headlines, and yet could have resulted in both real, as well as financial, damage. Cyber-criminals view the chemicals sector, as a high-value target, because of the potential cost, both financial and reputational, to the operator, should production be interrupted or stopped entirely. Cyber security vulnerabilities put physical assets at risk The attack in question, a ‘Triton’ custom malware attack on a petro-chemical facility in Saudi Arabia, targeted a safety system, taking over system controllers. Bugs in the code triggered an emergency shutdown, but could have led to the release of toxic and explosive gases. It was a vivid reminder of how cyber security vulnerabilities are increasingly putting companies’ key physical assets at risk. Two more-recent high-profile incidents illustrate my point. In February, a Florida water treatment plant was hacked. The malicious actor remotely accessed the system for three to five minutes, during which time they opened various functions on the screen, including one that controls the amount of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in the water. The hacker changed the NaOH from about 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million, which could have resulted in a mass poisoning event. Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack incident Then, in May, the Colonial Pipeline system that originates in Houston, Texas and carries gasoline, and jet fuel, suffered a ransomware attack. Using a VPN, hackers targeted back-office IT systems, forcing Colonial to shut down IT hosts and network infrastructure, severing communication with those OT systems that are responsible for communicating ‘transactional data’ associated with fuel delivery. In this instance, a single compromised password disrupted Colonial’s ability to invoice its customers. This dependency on OT data stopped pipeline and business operations, and the company was elected to pay the hackers an initial ransom of US$ 4.4 million, in order to restore operations. The Colonial attack was multi-dimensional, in that it not only impacted Colonial’s business, but also the wider US economy and national security, since the pipeline transports nearly half of the east coast's fuel supplies. Outdated IT system elevates physical risk The increased interconnectivity between IT and OT can also create vulnerabilit Attacks such as these prove that, armed with little more than a laptop, an email account and access to the dark web, determined hackers can cause disproportionate damage to physical infrastructure. As mentioned at the outset, the increased interconnectivity between IT and OT can also create vulnerability. Producers often want to know: Is it risky to connect a production asset or their operational environment to the Cloud? My answer is, if you do so without having done any risk audits around people, processes and technology, or without enhancing and maintaining that environment, then yes, that is risky. For example, we often observe that the life cycle of a production asset far outlasts the IT systems that are used to run it. Take a cement kiln. Several generations of plant operators may have come and gone, but that asset may still run, using legacy software, such as Windows XP and why not? Need to replace aging distributed control systems Well, that’s fine, if you are not concerned about having that asset compromised, and all that entails. A ‘flat’ IT network, an aging distributed control system, and machines with legacy versions of Microsoft Windows, all these elements, which are still commonplace in many industries, make it much easier for attackers to find and infiltrate a company, without needing sophisticated tools. The age-old mantra of not interfering with a piece of equipment or software that appears to be working, often applies to the individual assets. For example that cement kiln that are still controlled by the same Windows XP-based control software. However, if we’re honest, things have changed quite a bit, not because something was broken, but because innovation came in. That same kiln control system is most likely connected to other systems, than when first commissioned and that opens it to exposure to threats that it was never designed for. The human element There is a misconception that IoT-connected devices can open companies to risk There is a misconception that IoT-connected devices can open companies to risk, but many recent, high-profile cyber-attacks have been conducted from a laptop, by hacking someone’s VPN, or are a simple phishing/malware attack. In all these cases, the human element is partly to blame. Take the Florida attack. The compromised computer at the water treatment facility was reportedly running an outdated Windows 7 operating system and staff all used the same password, in order to gain remote access via the Teamviewer app, which the hacker was then able to use. Physical and human assets, key to robust cyber security Discussion on the best way to mitigate the threat is often framed solely around specific technical solutions and ignores the fact that robust foundational cyber security is really driven by two very different, but equally important, types of capital: physical assets (e.g. production machinery), and human assets. The truth is that smart digital software and industry-renowned cyber security applications, while critical, are in many cases, only as good as the weakest human link in the chain. Industry would, therefore, do well to ask itself the following question: Do we have a security problem, or a complacency problem? At this juncture, it is important to point out that the majority of companies that ABB works with, are at least aware of the threat posed by cyber attackers, and the potential impact of an attack, on their revenues, reputation and bottom line. User error and human-generated exposures Making sure staff are aware of the threat and training them to respond properly, if they are targeted, is vital However, user error and human-generated exposures are where most of these attacks occur. Those human failures are mostly not due to malicious intent from employees, but to the lack of training of the employees on secure behavior. Making sure staff are aware of the threat and training them to respond properly, if they are targeted, is vital. However, there are also age demographics at play here. Much of the operations employee base is heading towards retirement and often, there is no plan or ability to backfill these people. Need to invest in new digital and automated technologies If you think you don't have enough people now, in order to stay on top of basic care and feeding of the OT environment, with regards to security, what is that going to be like in 20 years? For this reason, there must be a major industry reset, when it comes to its workforce. Companies must invest in new digital and automated technologies, not only to ensure that they stay ahead of the curve and mitigate risk, but also to attract the next generation of digitally literate talent. Robust cyber security is built on solid foundations When we talk about foundational cyber security, we mean fundamentals, such as patching, malware protection, high-fidelity system backups, an up-to-date anti-virus system, and other options, such as application allow-listing and asset inventory. These basic controls can help companies understand their system setup and the potential threats, identify vulnerabilities, and assess their risk exposure. The Pareto principle states that around 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. In the context of cyber security, that means 80% of exposure to risk comes from 20% of the lack of security. If companies do the foundational things right, they can manage out a significant amount of this risk. Importance of maintaining and upgrading security controls However, having basic security controls, such as anti-virus software in place, is just the first step on that journey. Equally important is having someone within the organisation, with the requisite skill set, or the extra labour bandwidth, to operate, maintain and update those security controls, as they evolve. Educating, training and recruiting existing employees, and the next generation of talent, along with forging partnerships with trusted technology providers, will ensure that industry can leverage the latest digital technologies, in order to drive business value, and secure physical assets against cyber-attacks.

The robotic transformation of the security industry
The robotic transformation of the security industry

The COVID-19 pandemic is only accelerating the expansion of Automation, Robotics, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and changing how people live their daily lives. This expansion leads the way with technologies that are developed to solve problems, improve operations, streamline processes and assist people, to focus on learning new skills, creativity, and imagination. Transformation of the physical security industry One of the latest industries to be permanently transformed is physical security. The era of utilising security cameras is slowly changing into more advanced and more efficient technological applications - security robotic solutions. SMP Robotics is a California-based company, which is a pioneer in developing robotic technologies, powered by AI, to assist, improve and deliver on new expectations in today’s world. One of their services is smart surveillance systems. This represents a proactive approach to security. The company, SMP Robotics’ Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Leo Ryzhenko, stated “Autonomous robotic technologies will become a driving force in future security solutions.” Robotics and AI in autonomous security solutions The robots can patrol 24/7, counteracting intrusion and communicating via voice message with guards The company uses robotics and AI technology to implement autonomous security solutions, which reduce liability and overhead, as well as improving the quality of services. Robotic guards are capable of patrolling all types of facilities, in both urban and rural contexts. The robots can patrol 24/7, counteracting intrusion and communicating via voice message with guards. The inspection robots, deployed by SMP Robotics, are easily integrated with many existing security technologies, armed with obstacle avoidance and anti-collision measures, automatically recharge, and can recognise faces up to 50 metres. As the world grows increasingly complex, technology like this is essential to ensure safety for all. AI-enabled autonomous video monitoring ground vehicles The advancements in technological breakthroughs of SMP Robotics position the company and its AI-powered, autonomous video monitoring ground vehicles, to be the most adaptable to any industry, cost-effective for clients’ business needs, in providing various types of services from public safety, crime prevention, to asset protection and physical security. SMP Robotics continues to implement new innovative solutions and groundbreaking technologies in its latest generation of autonomous models. Currently, many were already deployed or in a process to be delivered to a number of key clients, in various industries throughout the globe, from oil & gas, nuclear power plants to data centers, healthcare facilities, and amusement parks. Smart security robots Tal Turner, the Vice President (VP) of Business Development and Partnerships, SMP Robotics, said “We provide autonomous, artificial intelligence, all-weather, all-surface, smart security robots that are turnkey and operate independently on their own, using real-time obstacle avoidance, face recognition, and other cutting-edge technological advancements.” According to Coherent Market Insights, the Robots as a Service (RaaS) market direction will grow by 15.9% by 2028 and reach the threshold of 41.3 billion dollars. SMP Robotics stands at the forefront of the security robotic revolution, making an impactful change to make the world a safer place.

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.

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ISONAS Inc. enhances safety at Chicago School District by deploying cloud-based Pure IP access control solution
ISONAS Inc. enhances safety at Chicago School District by deploying cloud-based Pure IP access control solution

ISONAS Inc., a globally renowned IP access control and hardware solution provider, and part of the Allegion family of brands, has announced that the ISONAS Pure IP access control solution has been deployed at a school district in the southwest suburb of Chicago. With six buildings within the district, they wanted to be able to manage access at all buildings on one unified platform.  Remote access The school district had three main priorities for the upgrade, which included controlling the flow of traffic during after-hour events, eliminating the need for keys to manually lock and unlock doors and finally have the ability to utilise remote access.  Safety was a huge priority at the school district, which included keeping students and staff safe and secure in all six buildings. Without being able to control unauthorised visitors at all entrance ways, there was no way to effectively protect everyone district-wide. ISONAS Pure IP access control solution Upon a strong recommendation from the school IT Director, ISONAS was awarded the project after the school put the project out for bid. The school district believed in the power of the ISONAS Pure IP solution and knew it was the right cloud-based technology to overcome all their current challenges. With the recommendation from the IT Director and a strong relationship with Advanced Wiring Solutions, the school district was ready to move forward with the security upgrade at high speed.  Advanced Wiring Solutions is a Chicago-based premier low-voltage electrical contractor, who has handled structured cabling, security, access control, AV and CCTV camera installations for over 20 years. ISONAS RC-04 reader controllers installed It’s been a pleasure working with ISONAS from the onset of this project to completion" The project was on a tight timeframe and included installing 188 ISONAS RC-04 reader controllers, in under three months, on every access point within the six buildings that made up the school district. “It’s been a pleasure working with ISONAS from the onset of this project to completion,” stated Michael Sanfratello, President at Advanced Wiring Solutions. Michael adds, “From when we were in the bidding stage to deploying the access control system, ISONAS worked closely with the architects, engineers and the school district to develop specifications for the design and installation in order to make it a perfect deployment.” Remote monitoring of controlled doors “We are extremely happy that the school district selected the ISONAS solution to successfully secure each entrance way and no longer had to rely on keys for access, making it a safer environment for everyone,” said Jonathan Mooney, ISONAS Sales Leader. The school district can now easily monitor all controlled doors remotely and set access schedules for regular school hours and after hours when special events and activities were taking place. With cloud-based access control systems in place, schools across the country can get a clearer picture of who is actually entering their grounds day and night, while not having to physically be on the premises.

ISONAS Pure IP access control solution creates a safer environment in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Ohio
ISONAS Pure IP access control solution creates a safer environment in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Ohio

ISONAS Inc., an IP access control and hardware solution provider and part of the Allegion family of brands announced that the ISONAS™ Pure IP™ access control solution has been deployed at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Grove City, Ohio. The parish is comprised of seven buildings, which include the church, preschool, elementary school, rectory, storage garage, athletic building, and modular classrooms.  The parish grew from around a dozen visitors daily to more than 80 people visiting the church every weekday morning and more than 500 people visiting over three separate services each weekend recently. Controlling Access  The elementary school has grown to host more than 300 students and 50 staff members and volunteers, with the preschool adding another 40 students and staff members to the campus tally. With 28 exterior doors encompassing the fully renovated church, school, and preschool, the parish needed a substantial security upgrade.                                                            The new system needed to not just limit access, but also control it. A main challenge at the parish was being able to control access at all seven buildings and provide an environment with improved personal security for their staff, students, and patrons. The security system the parish had in place consisted of a few standalone keypads and electric locks on a couple of doors with no centralised management or communication. Upgrading Security With an influx of people accessing the parish and its facilities, both the facilities director and the maintenance/technology specialist at the parish were ready to find the right access control solution. The new system needed to not just limit access, but also control it. After careful consideration and research, the parish selected the ISONAS™ Pure IP access control solution for their security upgrade. ISONAS introduced the parish to its local certified independent security integrators, Systems 28. “Working with ISONAS on this project was a tremendous experience from start to finish, and we were thrilled to be brought on board to handle this security upgrade,” said Scott Hoover, sales estimator at Systems 28. “As a certified independent ISONAS systems integrator, we were proud to install this unique solution at our local parish and help make our community safer.” ISONAS RC-04 reader controller The parish also liked the fact that an on-site server was not required with the ISONAS solution The project consisted of installing 24 ISONAS RC-04 reader controllers, with 21 deployed on exterior doors and three on interior doors in a month’s timeframe. The parish chose the ISONAS solution for a myriad of reasons, with one main factor being the ability to use power over the ethernet for the card readers and electric locks. The parish also liked the fact that an on-site server was not required with the ISONAS solution, as having a cloud-based server was critical to managing access remotely for multiple buildings. ISONAS Pure Access software “We are extremely happy that the parish selected ISONAS as the right solution for their security upgrade and look forward to providing capabilities to easily expand the system in the future,” said Jonathan Mooney, ISONAS sales leader. The ISONAS system is extremely user-friendly and much more convenient Along with the ISONAS hardware, the ISONAS Pure Access software was deployed for its remote access capabilities. Pure Access™, ISONAS’s software, is a cloud-based access control application that provides users the ability to manage their access control from anywhere at any time, on any device. Remote access functionality “The ISONAS system is extremely user-friendly and much more convenient than the previous ‘stand-alone’ system we had in place prior to this upgrade,” said Kevin Radwanski, facilities director at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. “We especially like the remote access functionality, as it has been great for us to be able to lock and unlock doors remotely during regular times and emergency situations like the global pandemic.”

Cozaint Corporation launches BOBBY-W physical security kiosk to augment human security guard environments
Cozaint Corporation launches BOBBY-W physical security kiosk to augment human security guard environments

Cozaint Corporation, manufacturer of ‘smart’ physical security platforms, has announced the launch of the BOBBY-W wall-mounted physical security kiosk. Available immediately, this ‘Video Surveillance as a Service’ (VSaaS) device has been designed to augment human security guard environments that need additional eyes and ears on their premises. BOBBY-W physical security kiosk BOBBY-W is based on a custom, Cozaint-built expandable platform that allows for the integration of a multitude of IoT sensors which allow for the monitoring and alerting of motion, water leaks, door/window opening, room temperature, lighting, and much more. All of these sensors are centrally monitored and the service can interact with an organisation’s existing security team. BOBBY-W standard features include: 24/7 180-degree video surveillance Facial recognition-based access control Smartphone-based access control IoT Sensor management Remote monitoring and concierge service Panic communication Expandable platform Touchless access control solution The timing couldn’t be more perfect for the need of a touchless access control solution" “The timing couldn’t be more perfect for the need of a touchless access control solution and the BOBBY-W physical security kiosk seems to fit the current market requirements. The integration of the BOBBY-W kiosk, along with Cozaint’s facial recognition technology, and Isonas’ Pure IP Access smartphone reader controller using Pure Access is ideal,” stated Fred Sumner, West Region Account Executive at Isonas, Inc. He adds, “Cozaint has been great to work with and we’re thrilled that our Pure IP access control API was able to integrate so well into the BOBBY-W platform. “ 24/7 remote monitoring With 24/7 remote monitoring included with the BOBBY-W service, customers can rest assured that their environment has the added protection to deal with unauthorised entries or incidents that could cause personal harm or property damage. BOBBY-W’s interactive touchscreen display is designed to showcase company news and information (or even specific advertising) as well as communication in cases of emergency to trained remote monitoring staff. With the current global pandemic challenges, BOBBY-W also has an optional integrated kiosk offering that incorporates the non-contact thermal imaging system from feevr. feevr non-contact thermal imaging system “We are delighted to be an available integration partner with Cozaint’s BOBBY-W security kiosk that allows organisations to monitor individuals that may show possible symptoms of an elevated skin temperature as they enter a particular campus,” said Barry Oberholzer, Founder and CEO of x.labs, the company behind the feevr non-contact thermal imaging system. He adds, “We agree that the integration of the feevr platform with the BOBBY-W physical security kiosk delivers enhanced peace-of-mind and situational awareness to an organisation.” Facial recognition access control Every BOBBY-W wall-mounted kiosk comes standard with facial recognition access control Every BOBBY-W wall-mounted kiosk comes standard with facial recognition access control, which utilises the Isonas Pure IP access control solution with smartphone authentication capabilities, as well as IoT sensors for motion detection, door/window openings, and environmental conditions (temperature, etc). Another integration partner to the BOBBY platform is the Enterprise Asset Tracking platform from Sympler. Enterprise Asset Tracking platform “With Enterprise Asset Tracking, organisations can simply place asset tags (small/thin devices with unique identifiers) onto valuable equipment, keys, lanyards, or even an individual’s wrists with a standard watch band and continually track and locate those company assets,” stated Jeff Debrosse, Principal and Founder of Sympler. Jeff adds, “The tags report asset's positions within the enterprise campus or jobsite. This information is integrated into the BOBBY-W monitoring platform and an asset’s real-time location, distance, and movement pattern can be quickly determined.” BOBBY security towers The BOBBY-W platform is the first in the Cozaint line of physical security kiosks and towers. Cozaint will be delivering new BOBBY security towers later in 2020. BOBBY-W wall-mounted physical security kiosks are available as of August 2020 and are rented to customers on a monthly basis, alleviating any capital equipment expenses and maintenance costs. Complete maintenance and service of the BOBBY-W kiosk is provided throughout the life of agreement, as well as 24/7 online technical support and remote monitoring service.

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