Access control systems & kits - Expert commentary

‘We want to become better known for access control’ - Q&A with Bosch Building Technologies’ Gregor Schlechtriem
‘We want to become better known for access control’ - Q&A with Bosch Building Technologies’ Gregor Schlechtriem

Gregor Schlechtriem has worked in the access control market for over 20 years and is now responsible for the Access & Intrusion Business Unit at Bosch Building Technologies. In this interview, the expert talks about key industry trends, the impact of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, technical innovations and his company’s strategy. Mr. Schlechtriem, you have many years of experience in the security technology market. What is your background and what are your responsibilities as Senior Vice President at Bosch Building Technologies? Gregor Schlechtriem: I am a trained engineer and electrical technician, and have been involved with access control in the broadest sense, since I started my career in the late 1980s. I started in the field of parking garage technology and then switched to security technology in 2001, as Managing Director of micos GmbH, which specialised in traditional access control. micos GmbH was known for its highly available and highly secure access control systems, for critical infrastructure and government applications. Many systems from that time are still in use today and continue to be supported and upgraded. Bosch is continuing micos’ business here? Gregor Schlechtriem: Exactly, micos was taken over in 2004 by Bosch Security Systems, now known as Bosch Building Technologies. Since then, we have continuously been developing the access control business. Being part of the Bosch Building Technologies division, we benefit a lot from international cooperation with colleagues Being part of the Bosch Building Technologies division, we benefit a lot from international cooperation with colleagues and from overlap with other product lines, such as intrusion detection technology and video security. This gives us the opportunity to implement outstanding project solutions for demanding customers in an international environment. In developing this business, I rely on my experience from other interesting roles at Bosch that I took on, after micos was bought in 2004. For a time, I worked in the European System Integrator Business, which I also had the privilege of managing for several years, as well as being directly responsible for business units. In Fairport, USA, I had the overall responsibility for intrusion detection technology for many years, as I later did in Eindhoven for video systems. Since 2018, the global access control and intrusion detection business has once again been my direct responsibility. At Bosch Building Technologies, we have in the meantime assigned sales to the respective business units, so that we can develop our product and solution portfolio, in close cooperation with sales and our regular customers. Our main task now is to make our access control portfolio accessible to a broader market. We want to make Bosch much better known, as an access control provider, in the international market. After all, with our own access product portfolio, the power of the Bosch Group and over 40 years of experience in this sector, we have a lot to offer. As an expert in access control, how do you see the industry developing? In which direction is it currently evolving? Gregor Schlechtriem: First of all, I see that security requirements are constantly increasing. Whereas there are currently still simple ‘key replacement systems’ that merely record card numbers, such an approach, to a large extent, no longer meets today’s security and user experience requirements.The core task of access control has not changed over the years In the beginning, access control was more or less a kind of key replacement. Later, there was the possibility of increasing security via a pin code, i.e., via verification through simple data inputs. The next step in this direction was biometrics, which is another key step up, because it allows verification by means of unmistakable characteristics. However, the core task of access control has not changed over all the years and has basically always remained the same: access control means determining who has an access request and checking whether this request can be fulfilled. What’s next on this path to greater security? Gregor Schlechtriem: Biometrics-based access control is becoming increasingly powerful and user-friendly through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Here, data protection plays a major role, as wherever identities are established and movement data is recorded, it is necessary to reconcile the evolving technology with data protection.Biometrics-based access control is becoming increasingly powerful and user-friendly through the use of artificial intelligence The question of data protection is becoming even more significant, as systems increasingly migrate to the Cloud. Bosch puts particular emphasis on ensuring that, even in the cloud, the data generated in access control is always in line with data protection rules, regardless of where it is located. In my opinion, this trend towards the Cloud will continue, because companies are increasingly looking for complete service offerings, so that they can focus on their core business. Also, a system in the Cloud is easier to maintain and always up-to-date with the latest software, which makes cloud solutions even more attractive for providers and users. How can higher security be reconciled with a good user experience? Gregor Schlechtriem: Today, the card still plays a central role in the user experience, as the essential credential. Another current trend is ‘one card for everything’: with the increasing availability of secure multi-function smart cards, the possibility arises to use cards beyond the pure access function, for example, for payment in the canteen, at the catering and coffee machines, and in the parking garage, as well as simple access to other properties and so on.The security of cards has evolved significantly and kept pace with requirements The security of the cards, the reading and encryption processes, has evolved significantly and kept pace with requirements, although we are also facing an installed base that no longer meets these requirements, due to outdated systems. Today, it is standard for communications between reader and card to be encrypted. In some cases, the keys are also only held centrally to further increase security. The security systems industry was also affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. How do you think the industry has changed? What technical solutions have emerged during this time? Gregor Schlechtriem: First of all, there is a certain need for retrofitting in the industry due to changes in how buildings are used. For example, American retailers used to be open around the clock and always had staff on site. Now, due to COVID-19, stores are also closed, and this results in a whole new need for intrusion detection and access control systems to protect the buildings. For access control, an obvious task has arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely to track contacts, as far as this is compatible with data protection. We actually expected more to happen here, but in our observation, many companies did quite little, despite clear and simple steps that could have been implemented relatively quickly. The installed access control systems clearly lag behind the technical possibilities. Another topic that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus is hygiene Another topic that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus is hygiene. Companies should actually have invested in contactless systems here and retrofitted speed gates or motorised doors. But in many cases this was not put into practice. The door opener is still often used, which has to be operated manually and therefore, is touched multiple times. But, if everyone presses the same button, that doesn't help hygiene. Surprisingly, this is different in North America. Here, ‘request-to-exit’ proximity detectors are used almost everywhere, which avoids this problem completely and releases the door, when an authorised person approaches it. Mobile access and smartphone-based access control are also growing markets. What kind of developments do you see in these areas? Gregor Schlechtriem: I already mentioned that users increasingly want to be able to use one card for several applications. But, what we are seeing here is that even with the most modern cards, which have a lot of applications loaded on them, we are reaching performance limits and the user experience suffers. If you compare the card with the smartphone as a credential, you have a much more attractive integration platform there, which is significantly faster and delivers much better performance. For us, the mobile credential or the smartphone is the future, because it simply offers more possibilities that the card will not be able to provide in the long term. What is the specific direction Bosch is taking here? Gregor Schlechtriem: We are currently working on a broad implementation. A whole team is working on the user experience around the smartphone, because it’s understood that smartphone-based access has to work just as easily, as it currently does with a card.A whole team is working on the user experience around the smartphone In theory it does, but if you look at some of the actual implementations, this topic is still relatively complex. In terms of user experience and automation, we still have quite a way to go, and we are working hard on that at the moment. The user experience is one side of the coin, the other side concerns establishing security in the smartphone as a whole. In other words: How do I make the smartphone secure enough as a mobile credential, to meet my access control requirements? We are also working intensively on this. That's actually an IT task. Do you do this yourself at Bosch or do you work with external experts here? Gregor Schlechtriem: We have our own powerful Bosch IT, which also manages our company smartphones. If our company smartphones are lost, the data on them is automatically deleted. The devices use biometrics to identify users, before they can access the data. It is a sound security concept that a card cannot offer. Moreover, we are working with other partners in the IDunion project, to create the additional infrastructure around mobile credentials as well. What exactly is the IDunion and what role does Bosch play? Gregor Schlechtriem: Digital identities must be openly accessible, widely usable, interoperable, and secure. This applies not only to access control, but to the digitised economy in general. The IDunion project has set itself the task of creating the infrastructure for this, in the form of an independent wallet, i.e., secure identity storage on smart devices. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWI), because digitisation is also a critical social issue. We are intensively involved in the ‘Physical access to the building’ work package in this consortium. Through this involvement, we want to ensure that our access control systems benefit from this infrastructure and are open to future digital business models. Does ‘digital identity management’, which includes biometrics and mobile access, also play a role for Bosch? Yes, it plays an important role for us, and I wouldn’t consider these topics separate Gregor Schlechtriem: Yes, it plays an important role for us, and I wouldn’t consider these topics separate. For me, a mobile device has the advantage that it has already ensured and verified my identity from the moment of interaction. That’s the fascinating thing about it. If I only allow the device to communicate with the access control system, if I have identified myself first, I have implemented biometrics and access control together in a widely accepted process. From my point of view, this is a very interesting perspective, in terms of security and user experience, because the biometrics procedures in smartphones are, I think, the best currently available. In my view, the smartphone has the potential to take over central functions in access control in the future. What are your goals for the access control business of Bosch Building Technologies in the near future? Gregor Schlechtriem: We will continue to focus on specific solutions for large customers. That is the continuation of our current strategy. In these projects, we will introduce new topics as I have just described, i.e., primarily new technology elements. I believe that, precisely because of the longevity of access control, a long-term migration capability is also of particular importance. We want to reach out to the broader market and make more widely available, what we have developed in terms of technology and innovation. We are currently in the process of setting up and optimising our sales organisation, so that it becomes much more widely known that we at Bosch have our own powerful access control portfolio, which can be used for all kinds of applications. In addition, we want to differentiate ourselves in the market with our systems, in line with the motto of our founder, Robert Bosch: ‘Technology for life’. The user experience with Mobile Access should be simple, straightforward, and secure: You hold your smartphone in front of the reader and the door opens.

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.

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Dahua Technology’s Smart Traffic Management Solution helps enhance road safety and reduce traffic congestion in global cities
Dahua Technology’s Smart Traffic Management Solution helps enhance road safety and reduce traffic congestion in global cities

Traffic congestion and road accidents are the toughest challenges faced by traffic management agencies across the world. With rapid global urbanisation, the growing amount and type of vehicles has led to more road-related issues every year. According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the global number of cars and commercial vehicles on the road will nearly double by 2040, putting tremendous pressure on the existing urban infrastructure. Traffic management strategies Various countries have formulated different traffic management development strategies across the globe, such as Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision, Singapore’s ‘45-minute City’ by 2040, Ukraine’s 2030 Strategic Vision, etc. Nevertheless, reducing traffic congestions by optimising existing road capacities comes with hefty costs, not mentioning the huge amount of time it requires to collect evidence, in order to enforce traffic violations. 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Dahua WizMind solution boosts safety for a 5-star hotel in Italy
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Dahua Technology’s video and access control solution enhances safety in Empresa Panamena de Alimentos food company’s facilities
Dahua Technology’s video and access control solution enhances safety in Empresa Panamena de Alimentos food company’s facilities

Dahua Technology is a globally renowned video-centric smart IoT solutions and services provider. Based on technological innovations, Dahua Technology offers end-to-end security solutions, systems, and services, in order to create value for city operations, corporate management, and consumers. Dahua Technology has designed a video surveillance and control solution for a popular Panamanian Food Company - Empresa Panamena de Alimentos (EPA). Dahua’s security solution Empresa Panamena de Alimentos is a renowned company in the processed food industry in Panama, Central America. It was founded in 2012 and owns production plants and warehouses in the capital city, as well as agencies around the country. EPA’s products, including all kinds of cookies, coffee, and pasta, are already important parts of consumers’ day-to-day life. With the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic risks, EPA needed a system to sustain efficient management and operation, over their staff and facilities. Implementing multiple access controls in the facilities As a food company, the operations of the company need to be under caution, especially during the pandemic As a food company, the operations of the company need to be under caution, especially during the pandemic. It was necessary to implement multiple access controls in the facilities. With multiple plants located around the nation and accelerated growth, a centralised monitoring system for all equipment, alert management and user reports was needed. The solution, applied at EPA’s facilities, integrates various electronic security systems under a single platform and was evaluated based on the company’s needs. ANPR, AI-based cameras and access control systems “Currently, 480 Dahua devices have been arranged. Among them are different models of cameras, access control systems, and automatic number plate recognition products. AI-based cameras enhance the level of personnel protection. Everything is monitored by a DSS Express server in the main plant,” said Luis Araujo, the Manager of Infrastructure and Telecommunications of the Secutec Panama. Every day, more than 800 employees enter EPA facilities nationwide, the access control system allows a faster and safer automated entry of the staff and their cars. Access controllers and Pro Network Video Recorders Besides, three Pro Network Video Recorders (NVR5864-4KS2) were also adopted Apart from automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) devices, more than 20 access controllers (ASI7213X-T1) were installed in main offices for temperature monitoring and attendance management. Besides, three Pro Network Video Recorders (NVR5864-4KS2) were also adopted. With a powerful processor, they have the capability of 4K resolution processing and high definition recording quality. Perimeter protection and access control In Dahua Technology’s security solution, perimeter protection and access control are both realised. “We have had Dahua equipment for 7 years. It is a brand that has been of great help to our safety. It has contributed to continuous and steady operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Guillermo Figueroa, EPA’s Safety and Control Manager. Javier Rodríguez, Secutec Panama’s Operations Manager, valued the quality and technology of Dahua’s solution, which has been ‘key’ for the development of their projects, the support and accompaniment to the brands that are planned to be developed. Trust in Dahua Technology’s solution “We are very proud that our teams are here for EPA and that companies, like EPA and Secutec, trust Dahua Technology. We continue to innovate to offer solutions that help companies to work in a safer and smarter way,” said Fermín Osorio, an Engineer at Dahua Technology Ltd.

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