Look who’s talking about the top issues in the physical security industry in 2019. Our website’s Expert Panel Roundtable discussions in 2019 reflected some of the most timely and important topics in the industry.

The very most-clicked-on Expert Panel Roundtable discussion in 2019 was about the year before – reviewing what caused disruptions in 2018. The second most popular was about 2019, the year ahead. Other hot topics that made the Top-10 list of roundtable discussions included what makes a good security salesperson, the need for greater cybersecurity awareness, and how millennials are changing the industry.

Here is a roundup of the Top 10 Expert Panel Roundtable discussions posted in 2019, along with a “sound bite” from each discussion and links back to the full articles.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to Expert Panel Roundtable in 2019 (including the quotable panelists named and linked below).

1. What caused the most disruption in 2018 in the physical security space?

“The industry is in the midst of a dynamic technology revolution, and we are seeing increased use of security solutions that leverage machine-based learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics. This past year, the market embraced these emerging technologies, with a myriad of solutions now being embedded with these capabilities, including IP cameras, access control systems, security robots, and drones.” Travis Deyle, Cobalt Robotics

2. What technology trend will have the biggest impact on physical security in 2019?

“IoT (Internet of Things) will continue to make us more efficient. We’re already seeing the increased integration of IoT devices into enterprise-level solutions. The rise in city-living is also putting pressure on infrastructure, so it will become increasingly important for the truly smart and safe city to move beyond a vision into reality.” – Jamie Barnfield, IDIS

3. What are the security challenges of hospitals and the healthcare industry?

“Preventing security incidents is a priority and a challenge for healthcare directors. Traditionally, the success of a healthcare facility’s safety program has been equated to the number of issues that warranted a response; though, the simple number of emergency responses is not helpful in preventing the same situations from occurring again.” – Julie Brown, Johnson Controls

4. What characteristics do salespeople require in the physical security industry?

“To be a good salesperson, you must understand each customer’s needs and help them solve their problems. In physical security, this need is typically some kind of risk mitigation – guarding themselves and their organisations against threats, danger and liability. This makes the conversation more fraught than if you were selling a business product such as lighting, HR software or insurance, since ultimately you are talking about people’s lives and livelihoods.” – Dave Whitis, Boon Edam

5. How does security technology make our schools safer?

“IP-based physical security solutions can help deliver safer environments so that students, staff, and faculty can focus on learning. Video surveillance provides a live and recorded visual representation of what’s happening across a school and can readily be called upon to access important information during an investigation. Electronic access control on doors and barriers not only regulates who goes where, but also provides protection for property and assets.” – Terry Schulenberg, Genetec

6. Is greater awareness helping to increase cybersecurity?

“On a daily basis, we hear of widely publicised cybersecurity incidents which affect our customer’s businesses, peace of mind, and assets. This new world is one the physical security industry has not been familiar with. What follows these well-publicised events is frustration and confusion, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. Confusion then leads to application of ineffective security tools or, worse, inaction.” – Drew Alexander, STANLEY Security

7. What security markets are likely to embrace AI?

“Transportation seems to be the market that could benefit the most from embracing artificial intelligence. As it relates to people tracking, AI could single out deviating behavior, such as someone walking against the flow of rush-hour traffic, and in turn could initiate a real-time response so authorities can determine whether or not intervening is necessary.” – Per Björkdahl, ONVIF

8. How are Millennials changing the security industry?

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen the Millennial generation have a profound impact on the security industry, and this is largely due to the fact that those born in this time period have a very knowledgeable and in-depth experience with technology. Millennials are accustomed to smart devices, automation and at-your-fingertips accessibility, which has created new and unfamiliar demands when it comes to security systems and solutions.” – Ron Virden, ACRE

9. What are the mainstream uses for thermal cameras?

“Thermal cameras have been the go-to solution for perimeter protection applications for decades. This year, we’re seeing more integrations of thermal cameras with other solutions like radar to improve redundancy, long-range detection and alarm verification for airports and other large sites. Thanks to new technology partnerships and thermal offerings, customers are seeing the value of thermal beyond traditional use cases.” – Fredrik Wallberg, FLIR Systems

10. How do software improvements drive physical security?

“Software improvements ultimately drive greater interoperability among technology partners and system integration in physical security solutions. From a surveillance standpoint, software is also increasingly used to enhance system performance and overall longevity by identifying anomalies. For example, to ensure video data is preserved and not lost, customers are using health monitoring software on surveillance hard drives.” – Jessica Burton, Seagate Technology

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Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

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Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.

Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?
Smart Offices: How is mobile ID changing the way we access the office?

If you’re a security or facilities manager, you may already be aware of the quiet revolution that’s taking place across businesses and organisations up and down the country. By the end of 2020, 20% of all ID and access control systems featured mobile capability, and this is set to increase by a further 34% over the next three years. There’s no doubt that using a smartphone or mobile device in place of traditional credential and access control is a growing trend that’s only been sped up by the pandemic. It’s true that many businesses are still very much focused on remote working, although many are now starting to implement new-and-improved strategies that are better suited to protect the workforce moving forward. Mobile ID systems As the next normal becomes clearer, businesses will be reviewing procedures such as access control, occupancy monitoring, reducing touch points and tracking visitors. Mobile ID systems are ideally suited to this task. But what are the key reasons for considering such a setup in 2021? But why is this new technology so well-suited to future-proof your physical access system, and why is it becoming so popular? Eradicating outdated legacy credentials Have you seen just how vulnerable outdated Proximity card technology can be? Low-frequency 125kHz cards can be cloned in a matter of seconds with the use of cheap, readily available tools. Despite their weaknesses, they are still used by a huge majority of businesses – big and small. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential Replacing such a system with a mobile-enabled system is one of the best ways to increase security ten-fold. Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, mobile ID offers best-in-class security and cryptography. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential. Bluetooth Smart and NFC (Near Field Communication) make them the best product to operate such a credential via a secure app. If you’re looking for best-in-class security in 2021, mobile access is most definitely the way forward. Removing touch points across the business Reducing touch points and the adoption of touchless facilities has become a key priority for businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Even as businesses start to return to the office and operate a home/office split, it will be imperative that unnecessary contact is kept to an absolute minimum between staff. The traditional issuance of identification and access control credentials can pose problems in this regard. Facility and security managers who are responsible for onboarding and processing ID have done the process face to face. Mobile access makes it possible to carry this process out without people coming into direct content. First, the security manager has access to a secure portal, allowing them to create, manage and edit credentials anywhere. They can upload and remotely transfer mobile ID and access control credentials directly to users’ smartphones over the air. Via the secure app, users can view and see their credentials and immediately begin using it for ID and access control by simply placing their smartphone over card readers. Enabling a more flexible way of working The way in which we work has changed for good. Even as people more people return to the office in 2021, a majority of businesses will be operating a home/office split indefinitely. This once again reinforces the need for a smarter, more adaptable onboarding system. Implementing mobile ID is the perfect way of doing this: over-the-air delivery of credentials and security data is now a given, helping businesses create the perfect balance between the home and the office. No longer do people have to come into the office for the onboarding process. Increasing convenience and user experience More often businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security Ok, so mobile ID is the perfect way of increasing security and adapting workplaces to a post-COVID way of working. And we’ve not even touched on the most obvious advantage yet: Convenience. How many times have you forgotten your ID card? We’re sure it’s more times than you forget your smartphone. These powerful processors have become intertwined with the way we carry out tasks on a daily basis. They’re so vital that people will soon notice if they’ve forgotten it. From an employee’s perspective, mobile ID and access control is simple, convenient and extremely user-friendly. More and more businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security. From the employer’s perspective, mobile ID means it’s easier for administrators to manage access and credentials. Future-proofing access control now will ensure that in the longer term, mobile ID is well worth the investment. The annual expenditure of printing ID cards and purchasing credentials can be vast, while reissuance costs can also quickly add up for larger organisations. These issues are a thing of the past for businesses using mobile ID. Mobile ID perfect tool for 2021 and beyond Until mobile ID, new and improved credentials’ main focus was on increasing security. Mobile ID not only delivers that, but it also provides a more convenient way of accessing the office in a way that’s perfectly suited to returning to the office in 2021. If there was ever a time to upgrade, now is the time. Summing up, mobile access is changing the way we access the office by: Eliminating weak links in security systems such as outdated legacy card technologies Eradicating the need for touch points across multiple areas of the workplace Enabling a smarter, more flexible approach to onboarding Increasing convenience – for both employers and employees.

Water plant attack emphasizes cyber’s impact on physical security
Water plant attack emphasizes cyber’s impact on physical security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorised users. The source of the unauthorised access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasises the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defences have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorised to connect to an organisation's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorised devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organisations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organisations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organisations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.