Intruder detectors - Expert commentary

We need to talk about intelligent enclosure protection
We need to talk about intelligent enclosure protection

Enclosures containing electronics, communications or cabling infrastructure offer a simple attack point for cyber breaches and an opportunity for a physical attack on the hardware. Yet, many of these assets are housed within enclosures that provide minimal security features to offer a deterrent to any would-be attacker. This has always just been a pet hate. Walking down the high street of a town anywhere in the United Kingdom, you can often see open street communication cabinets. You can actually look directly inside at the equipment. And if I was a bad guy, I could quite easily just put my foot into their enclosure and quite quickly take out their infrastructure. Charged service for enclosures This seems crazy when a US$ 2 magnetic contact on a door can quickly tell you whether your enclosure is open or shut, and can be vital in keeping your network alive. Moreover, the operators of these systems, whether it is telecoms or internet providers, are providing a charged service to their customers, so they should really be protecting their enclosures. Why has that security level not been so readily taken into the outside world, into the unprotected environment? More sobering, if you contrast this security approach to the approach taken in the data centre world, an environment that already has multiple stringent security protocols in place, you get a very different picture. For instance, security devices can capture snapshots of anyone who opens a cabinet door in a data room, so it is recorded who has opened that door. While that is just one simple example, it begs the question. Why has that security level not been so readily taken into the outside world, into the unprotected environment? In my mind, a lot of it boils down simply to education. Network connection, easy point of cyber attacks Our preconceived idea about cyber security is some big corporation being knocked out or held to ransom by, again in our mind, someone sitting at a laptop, probably with their hood up over their head, typing away in the darkness, attacking us through the internet. But how the would-be criminal is going to come at us is just like in sport. They attack at the weakest point. Networks can be deployed in the outside world in many ways, such as cameras monitoring the highways. That means those locations will have a network connection. And that can be a point of attack in a non-secure outside world. Enclosures can be broken into by attackers Many people think, ‘That is okay because I’m going to take that ethernet device that my cameras are connected to and I’m going to put it inside an enclosure.’ However, what people do not realize is that the only thing that the enclosure is doing is protecting the ethernet device from Mother Nature. Because, without proper security, those enclosures can be broken into pretty easily. Many of them are just a single key that is not in any way coded to the device. Twofold cyber security People need to realise that cyber security is twofold. It can be carried out by hacking the network or physically breaking Therein lays the problem. People need to realise that cyber security is twofold. It can be carried out by hacking the network or physically breaking into the weakest physical point. And so, a simple boot through the open door of an enclosure can vandalise the devices inside and take down a small or large part of a network. And by definition, this meets the criteria for a cyber-attack. So, how do we go about tackling this problem? Well, security is a reaction marketplace. And for enclosures, there’s not, at present, a plethora of solutions out there for to counter these types of attacks. It can be challenging to find what you’re looking for through a quick Google search compared to searching for more traditional security protection measures. Deploying smart sensors and detectors But, under Vanderbilt and ComNet, we are currently taking our knowledge and experience from system installation and compiling it together. We’re bringing different products from different parts of our business to make a true solution. For instance, we have sensors for enclosures that detect anything from gas or smoke to open doors, detectors that will tell you if someone is trying to smash open your enclosure with a sledgehammer, or that someone is trying to lift your enclosure off of its mount. More importantly, as is not really a one-size-fits-all solution, we have developed a menu structure available that allows customers to pick and choose the ones that will best fit their own requirements.

Remote Monitoring technology: Tackling South Africa’s cable theft problem
Remote Monitoring technology: Tackling South Africa’s cable theft problem

For decades, cable theft has caused disruption to infrastructure across South Africa, and an issue that permeates the whole supply chain. Here, Ian Loudon, international sales and marketing manager at remote monitoring specialist Omniflex, explains how new cable-alarm technology is making life difficult for criminals and giving hope to businesses. In November 2020, Nasdaq reported that, “When South Africa shut large parts of its economy and transport network during its COVID-19 lockdown, organised, sometimes armed, gangs moved into its crumbling stations to steal the valuable copper from the lines. Now, more than two months after that lockdown ended, the commuter rail system, relied on by millions of commuters, is barely operational.” Private security firm Despite this most recent incident, cable theft is not a new phenomenon to sweep South Africa Despite this most recent incident, cable theft is not a new phenomenon to sweep South Africa. In 2001, SABC TV broadcast a story following two members of a private security firm working for Telkom, a major telecoms provider. In the segment, the two guards, working in Amanzimtoti on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, head out to investigate a nearby alarm that has been triggered. They reach a telecoms cabinet and discover that it has been compromised, with the copper cable cut and telephone handsets strewn across the ground. In the dark, they continue to search the area when one of the guards discovers the problem: 500 metres of copper wire has been ripped out. In their haste, the thieves have dropped their loot and fled. Widespread cable theft Had they managed to get away, they would have melted the cable to remove the plastic insulation and sold the copper to a local scrap dealer for around 900 Rand, about $50 US dollars. For the company whose infrastructure has been compromised, it may cost ten times that amount to replace and repair the critical infrastructure. The disappointing takeaway from this story is that two decades on from this incident the country still faces widespread cable theft, whether it’s copper cables from mines, pipelines, railways, telecoms or electrical utilities. In fact, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates that cable theft costs the economy between R5–7 billion a year. The answer to the problem must go further than the existing measures used by companies. Detect power failure Most businesses already invest in CCTV, fences, barriers and even patrol guards, but this is not enough. Take the mining sector, for example. These sites can be vast, spanning dozens of kilometres - it’s simply not cost effective to install enough fences or employ enough guards or camera operators. As monitoring technology gets better, the company has seen site managers increasingly use cable alarms in recent years that detect when a power failure occurs. The idea is that, if one can detect a power failure, they can detect whether the cable has been cut The idea is that, if one can detect a power failure, they can detect whether the cable has been cut. The problem is though: how does one distinguish the difference between a situation where a cable has been cut intentionally and a genuine power outage? Power outages in South Africa are an ongoing problem, with the country contending with an energy deficit since late 2005, leading to around 6,000 MW of power cuts in 2019. Remote terminal units Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the company that generates around 95 per cent of South Africa’s power has already warned of further blackouts as the company works to carry out repairs to its power plants. According to a statement on the company’s website, “Eskom spends in the region of R2 billion a year replacing stolen copper cables." The result is that criminals take advantage of the gaps in power to steal cable, timing their robberies to coincide with the published load shedding schedules. The basic alarms used to detect power outage won’t recognise the theft because they register a false-positive during a power cut. By the time the power comes back on, the deed has been done and the criminals have gotten away with the cable. The good news is that recent breakthroughs in cable monitoring technology are helping tackle just this problem. New alarms on the market now combine sophisticated GSM-based monitoring systems that use battery powered remote terminal units. Legitimate supply chain Unlike the basic alarms that look for the presence or absence of power, these new systems monitor whether the cable circuit is in an open or closed state. In the event of a power outage, the unit continues to run on battery power and can detect if a cable has been cut, sending a priority SMS alert to the site manager immediately, giving them a fighting chance to prevent a robbery in progress. Beyond the opportunistic theft carried out by petty criminals, the theft of copper cables forms a wider problem Beyond the opportunistic theft carried out by petty criminals, the theft of copper cables forms a wider problem across the supply chain in South Africa. In recent years, the combination of unscrupulous scrap dealers, the alleged involvement of large scrap processing companies and lax penalties meant that much of the stolen copper ended up back in the legitimate supply chain. However, recent changes in the law have sought to take a tougher stance on copper theft. Alarm monitoring technology According to the Western Cape Government, “The Criminal Matters Amendment Act, regulates bail and imposes minimum offences for essential infrastructure-related offences." The act, which came into effect in 2018, recommends sentencing for cable theft, with the minimum sentence for first-time offenders being three years and for those who are involved in instigating or causing damage to infrastructure, the maximum sentence is thirty years. It seems to be working too. In January 2021, the South African reported that a Johannesburg man was sentenced to eight years behind bars for cable theft in Turffontein. While the longer-term outlook is a positive one for industry, the best advice for businesses seeking to alleviate the problem of cable theft in the immediate future is to invest in the latest cable-theft alarm monitoring technology to tackle the problem and make life difficult for criminals.

Trends and challenges we will see in the AI-driven security space in 2021
Trends and challenges we will see in the AI-driven security space in 2021

For decades, the nature of global safety has been evolving. From physical security threats like large-scale terrorist attacks and lone actor stabbings to chemical threats such as the Salisbury poisonings and even microbiological threats such as COVID-19, new challenges are constantly arising and the threat landscape we operate in today is constantly changing. Compounding the complexity of the security issues is the complexity and nature of attacks. With the economic downturn, there is the traditional rise in theft, violence and other crimes. Compound this with unmanned businesses and work-at-home staff, and there is a perfect storm for a rise in security threats. Artificial intelligence (AI) and specifically the branch of AI known as machine learning (ML), was already causing widespread disruption in many industries, including the security industry. AI has been a driving force to replace labour-based business models with integrated data and actionable intelligence that is context-aware. It has become apparent that AI will play a big part in the ongoing fight against both pandemics such as COVID-19, as well as other threats that we may face in the future. With all of this in mind, 2021 is poised to be a big year for AI growth. While AI is going to continue to impact our lives in dozens of ways, from smart sensors to face mask compliance detection, the following reflects a few top trends and challenges that I have my eye on for 2021 as we close out this year. The rise of smart city investments One such example is the increasing development of smart cities and how AI can be leveraged to build safe communities. To date, we’ve seen an increase in the number of smart city programmes around the globe; cities that are beginning to deploy innovative technologies for the management and ease of life services. Compounding the complexity of the security issues is the complexity and nature of attacks Typical development of a city includes standard infrastructure - roads, schools, power, water, transportation. Now, internet, data and AI capabilities are part of the standard infrastructure requirements for all new developments. AI promises to deliver increased efficiencies with the infrastructure that will accommodate growing populations while reducing our impact on the environment, resources, and communities. Global cities now account for more than half of the world’s population, and the United Nations projects the number to balloon to 68% by mid-century. Owing to both demographic shifts and overall population growth, that means that around 2.5 billion people could be added to urban areas by the middle of the century, predicts the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). With an increase in population has come an increase in global spending on smart city initiatives to drive down the impact of growing urban concentration. Global spending on smart city initiatives is expected to total nearly $124 billion this year, an increase of 18.9% over 2019, according to IDC's Worldwide Semiannual Smart Cities Spending Guide, while Singapore, Tokyo, London and New York as the big spenders - expected to spend more than $1 billion in 2020. Using AI-driven technology to create safer public and private spaces Today, security solutions driven by AI are being developed and can be covertly deployed across a range of physical environments to protect the population in a more efficient, and accurate manner. As we look ahead to the future of public safety, it’s clear that new AI technology can dramatically improve the effectiveness of today’s physical security space. One such deployment is the use of video object recognition/computer vision software that can be integrated into existing video monitoring security (VMS) systems. These enhanced VMS systems can be deployed both inside and outside of buildings to identify risks and flag threats, such weapons, aggressive behaviours, theft, and safety compliance. This helps to minimise the impact of a breach by an early alert to onsite security in real-time to the location and nature of the potential threat, allowing them to intervene before a loss occurs. These same AI-enabled video solutions can similarly be used to provide advanced business operations in retail, logistics, and manufacturing organisations. Multi-sensor security solutions Also, targeted magnetic and radar sensor technologies, concealed in everyday objects like planter boxes or inside walls, can now scan individuals and bags entering a building for concealed threat objects. Using AI/machine learning, these two sensor solutions combined can identify metal content on the body and bag and match the item to a catalogue of threat items, such as guns, rifles, knives and bombs. Security solutions driven by AI are being developed and can be covertly deployed across a range of physical environments Without this advanced multi-sensor solution, it becomes nearly impossible to discover a weapon on a person's body before it appears in an assailant’s hands. This multi-sensor solution allows for touchless, unobtrusive access to a building, but allows for immediate notification to onsite security when a concealed threat is detected. The hidden technology thus empowers security staff to intercept threats before they evolve into a wider scale attack, while also maintaining the privacy and civil liberties of the public, unless, of course, they are carrying a concealed weapon or pose a physical threat. With the advent of sophisticated surveillance and technological innovation, a level of caution must be exerted. Despite the ongoing global debate, there remains little regulation about the use of AI technologies in today’s physical security space. One thing is certain; it must be deployed in the right place, at the right time, with the right privacy and civil liberty protection objectives. People don’t want to be protected by omnipresent, obstructive and overbearing security systems that infringe on their privacy and civil liberties. They want a proper balance between security and their current way of life, one that must be fused together. Technology and tracing COVID-19 Machine learning-based technologies are playing a substantial role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, the key purpose of surveillance systems has been to detect and deter threats, including the detection of visible and hidden weapons and abnormal behaviour. While this, of course, remains a primary focus, today we are seeing how surveillance systems defend against new invisible threats, as well as rapidly automate the process of contact-tracing to capture and contain a virus before it spreads. Again, the ability to track and trace through parsing algorithms that can manage through enormous amounts of data provides a highly scalable and rapid response mechanism to control the spread of threats. AI has demonstrated potential for identifying those displaying symptoms of infectious diseases, without requiring physical human contact Although the threat may not be visible, it is just as destructive. By incorporating AI into existing technologies, government, healthcare and security professionals can monitor public spaces and environments through the combined use of digital and thermal video surveillance cameras and video management systems); just one of the solutions being explored. AI has demonstrated potential for identifying those displaying symptoms of infectious diseases, without requiring physical human contact. By Using AI-powered video analytic software, businesses can monitor face masks, social distancing and large gathering compliance and also detect elevated body temperature. Critically, technology must be capable of both identifying and tracking the virus but also be unobtrusive. An unobtrusive system that is adaptable enough to be deployed across a range of environments where the public gathers in enclosed spaces is necessary to be effective. Security in 2021 Technology has proven itself to be a valuable ally in times of crisis. For smart cities, the use of innovative AI/machine learning technologies will help optimise security solutions in areas that are brimming with potential. As we look ahead to the future of security in a world that is impacted by such a wide range of threats, from physical to chemical to microbiological, it’s clear that new technologies, specifically AI can dramatically improve the effectiveness of security systems and help us to better defend against a wide spectrum of threats. Technology has a huge role to play in making our communities safe in 2021 and beyond, but for security systems to be effective, they must not be oppressive or obstructive. This will ensure they have the full support of the public - the key to success.

Latest Texecom news

Texecom, CSL and Hikvision to sponsor WorldSkills LIVE to raise awareness about security and surveillance industry
Texecom, CSL and Hikvision to sponsor WorldSkills LIVE to raise awareness about security and surveillance industry

Texecom is delighted to be sponsoring, along with CSL and Hikvision, the new Electronic Security Systems Competition at this year’s WorldSkills UK LIVE on 21–23 November at the NEC in Birmingham. WorldSkills UK and Skills for Security launched the competition to raise awareness of apprenticeship and career opportunities in the security and surveillance industry. Attracting over 70,000 visitors, WorldSkills UK LIVE is the UK’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event. Electronic Security Systems Texecom has been a longstanding supporter of engineering apprentice training within the security industry" The event also hosts the National Finals of the WorldSkills UK Competitions which see the UK’s top apprentices and students compete to win Gold, Silver and Bronze in their chosen skill. This year, for the first time, visitors to LIVE will be able to watch apprentices take part in the Electronic Security Systems Competition which has been designed to reflect the role of an Electronic Security Engineer and the high standards that are expected within the industry. “Texecom has been a longstanding supporter of engineering apprentice training within the security industry, and we are delighted to partner with WorldSkills UK and Skills for Security for the launch of this competition,” says Clym Brown, Texecom’s Marketing Director. Electronic security apprentices “Electronic security fundamentally protects people’s lives and livelihoods and as such is a very worthwhile endeavour for young people to consider as a career choice. This new competition will highlight the skills and innovation in the industry to a wider audience, as well as increasing the training level and knowledge base of electronic security apprentices already involved.” As part of its commitment to helping the next generation of security engineers and installers adapt to the digital revolution, Texecom recently launched the Texecom Academy. Designed to help security professionals get ahead of the digital curve, it redefines what it means to be a security professional by providing the skills, tools and mindset that will define the future of security – for installers and their customers.

Texecom Cloud wins ‘Technological Innovation of the Year’ at the PSI Premier Awards
Texecom Cloud wins ‘Technological Innovation of the Year’ at the PSI Premier Awards

Texecom Cloud is delighted to announce that they were awarded ‘Technological Innovation of the Year’ in the recent PSI Premier Awards. Accessible on any internet-connected device, Texecom Cloud enables security installers to manage multiple alarm systems from one simple interface, simultaneously. This in turn helps them save money and increase revenues by being more efficient and adding value to their customers. It gives engineers complete control over their alarm system portfolio – this includes safeguards to ensure only the right people have access to the right data. Engineers are restricted to only view and access security systems that are specific to them. Simple, quick and easily accessible The company has invested a great deal into R&D to develop the best, most relevant technology" System programming is simple, quick and easily accessible, and there is even the option to create custom programming templates from previous installations or imported Wintex profiles. This reduces the number of programming steps required, guaranteeing consistency from site-to-site and eliminating programming errors. One of the most important features of Texecom Cloud is remote maintenance and health checks. This reduces the number of times installers need to visit a site to diagnose, maintain, manage and service customer’s alarm panels – it can even eliminate the need to go on site completely. Digital revolution in security “We’re absolutely delighted to have won this award,” comments Texecom’s Marketing Director Clym Brown. “The company has invested a great deal into R&D to develop the best, most relevant technology to help our commercial and residential installers adapt to the digital revolution in security. Texecom Cloud, along with our TexecomPro App and our award-winning Texecom Connect connectivity options, are designed to help them increase revenues and delight their customers!”

IFSEC announces IFSEC Europe to expand and enhance global standing
IFSEC announces IFSEC Europe to expand and enhance global standing

IFSEC hosts globally renowned security content and events, with shows in the United Kingdom, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines. Soon, the IFSEC brand will extend into mainland Europe with the launch of IFSEC Europe, a brand-new biennial security event providing a new gateway to the European integrated security market. Taking place for the first time on 20-22 September 2021 at RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, IFSEC Europe will create a pan-European home for integrated security, fire safety and intelligent buildings professionals in one of Europe’s most dynamic and accessible capitals. IFSEC Europe IFSEC has established itself as a widely-respected hub for launching products and solutions Co-located alongside Intelligent Buildings Europe, the new event will complement IFSEC’s flagship show IFSEC International, which will continue to take place annually at ExCeL London. This expansion is the result of a three-year research project to find the next hub for IFSEC’s global security community, designed to bring the expertise, prestige and comprehensiveness of the UK show to continental Europe. IFSEC has established itself as a widely-respected hub for launching products and solutions, as well as showpiece events such as 2019’s National Surveillance Camera Day. In 2019 it welcomed over 80,000 visitors across all of its events from over 120 countries. IFSEC Europe will better connect the major players in security manufacturing and distribution with key end-users, installers, integrators and consultants across mainland Europe. Source products and discover insights at IFSEC Responding to shifts in the European and global economy, IFSEC Europe offers UK, continental and international security professionals a platform from which to penetrate the European market. It’s a unique opportunity for firms to source products, discover insights and generate new business connections in one of Europe’s largest conference venues. IFSEC Europe will extend the IFSEC brand into a vibrant market" Moreover, RAI Amsterdam could not be better placed to accommodate the new event. Just fifteen minutes from the major hub at Schiphol Airport and boasting its own railway station, the venue offers convenient links to one of Europe’s most celebrated business centres and tourist destinations. IFSEC International security event Gerry Dunphy, Strategy Director of IFSEC International said, “IFSEC Europe will extend the IFSEC brand into a vibrant market to parallel and complement the London-based IFSEC International, which will remain IFSEC’s centre-piece event. It will provide a much-needed hub for the European security industry, and create a new entry point for the European market for the UK-based firms that already attend IFSEC International.” Gerry adds, “Amsterdam is centrally-located and easily-accessible, making it the ideal location for a pan-European security event. In addition, it’s a beautiful, dynamic and exciting city in which we’ve been working to launch an event since 2017, so it’s a joy to finally announce a major event there.” Integrated security tradeshow IFSEC International in London remains the most important event for the UK security market" Simon Young, Event Director of IFSEC International said, “We’re thrilled to announce this addition to the IFSEC portfolio. IFSEC International in London remains the most important event for the UK security market, but we feel this expansion into Amsterdam meets an urgent need for a sophisticated, comprehensive integrated security tradeshow in the European market.” The event is being launched in conjunction with some of IFSEC’s existing premier partners, including CSL, Texecom, UTC, Vanderbilt, Dahua and Euralarm, speaking to the high confidence these major security industry players have in the IFSEC brand. Partnership with CSL Pascal Zeegers, Director, CSL Benelux said “CSL is excited to be a part of the launch of IFSEC Europe at the RAI Amsterdam in 2021. We already have strong partnerships in the Benelux region and are rapidly growing our customers in the wider European areas, so the timing is perfect.” He adds ,“As a long standing IFSEC Premier Partner, CSL understands the value and legacy of a global brand such as IFSEC, so this new addition to the portfolio, in a major European destination, is welcome. I look forward to meeting all our customers in Amsterdam for what promises to be a rich and engaging event for the security and fire safety sectors.’’ Vanderbilt and Comnet to engage at IFSEC Europe IFSEC has been important for Vanderbilt and ComNet in reaching our UK customers" Sam Lord, Events Manager Vanderbilt International (UK) Limited, said ‘’IFSEC Europe is a new opportunity for Vanderbilt and ComNet to engage with our key European commercial partners in one of the world’s favourite cities, and an exciting prospect for us to showcase our world leading technologies. IFSEC has been important for Vanderbilt and ComNet in reaching our UK customers and we welcome this strategic decision to expand the show’s influence into Europe.’’ Jim Ludwig, Managing Director, Texecom Ltd., said ‘’Texecom is pleased to endorse and support the news that IFSEC Europe is coming to Amsterdam in September 2021. We have strong business partnerships across the whole of Europe so an event of IFSEC’s stature coming across to the Continent provides us with an excellent opportunity to meet with our partners and colleagues from key European markets. Texecom has enjoyed a long association with IFSEC for many years supporting various events in the UK, South East Asia and India so we’re looking forward to being a major participant at IFSEC Europe 2021.’’ Euralarm and Carrier excited about IFSEC Europe Martin Harvey, President, Euralarm, said ‘’Euralarm is excited to hear that IFSEC is coming to Amsterdam in 2021. As a dedicated and committed European organisation focused on the fire and security sectors, the event will provide us with a significant opportunity to engage with industry and market stakeholders in a truly focused way.’’ We are excited to learn that IFSEC is taking a strategic decision to expand into Europe" Kris Somers, Strategic Marketing & Communications Director, Carrier, said “We are excited to learn that IFSEC is taking a strategic decision to expand into Europe. As a long standing participant to IFSEC in London, we welcome the launch of IFSEC Europe in Amsterdam in 2021. It will provide an opportunity for leading stakeholders to engage with customers in a highly focused environment. As a global fire and security company providing the technology and solutions that protect and save lives, Carrier looks forward to exploring the potential this event has to offer.” Dahua and BSIA promote IFSEC Europe Lilia Zhang, General Manager, Dahua UK Limited, said ‘’Dahua is fully supportive of the launch of IFSEC Europe in Amsterdam. We have a proven and successful relationship with IFSEC in the UK so we’re excited to see this new development arriving in 2021.” Mike Reddington, CEO, BSIA, said ‘’BSIA and IFSEC have a strong and long-standing relationship which goes back many years, so we’re naturally excited to support the launch of IFSEC Europe in 2021. In view of the UK security industry’s export relationship with Europe, it is vital that its official trade association is taking a leading role at this new event and we look forward to working with our members at IFSEC Europe in Amsterdam.’’

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