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Cutting through the hype: AI and ML for the security space
Cutting through the hype: AI and ML for the security space

Today’s organisations face numerous diverse threats to their people, places and property, sometimes simultaneously. Security leaders now know all too well how a pandemic can cripple a company’s ability to produce goods and services, or force production facilities to shut down, disrupting business continuity. For example, a category three hurricane barreling towards the Gulf of Mexico could disable the supplier’s facilities, disrupt the supply chain and put unexpected pressure on an unprepared local power grid. Delivering timely critical information Tracking such risk is hard enough, but managing it is even more difficult. A swift response depends on delivering the right information to the right people, at the right time. And, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Indeed, 61 percent of large enterprises say critical information came too late for them, in order to mitigate the impact of a crisis, according to Aberdeen Research (Aberdeen Strategy & Research). These challenges are accelerating the hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) These challenges are accelerating the hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI). The technology promises to help us discover new insights, predict the future and take over tasks that are now handled by humans. Maybe even cure cancer. Accelerating the hype around AI But is AI really living up to all this hype? Can it really help security professionals mitigate risk? After all, there’s a serious need for technology to provide fast answers to even faster-moving issues, given the proliferation of data and the speed at which chaos can impact operations. Risk managers face three major obstacles to ensuring business continuity and minimising disruptions. These include: Data fatigue - Simply put, there’s too much data for human analysts to process in a timely manner. By 2025, the infosphere is expected to produce millions of words per day. At that pace, you’d need an army of analysts to monitor, summarise and correlate the information to your impacted locations, before you can communicate instructions. It’s a herculean task, made even more difficult, when we consider that 30 percent of this global datasphere is expected to be consumed in real time, according to IDC. Relevance and impact - Monitoring the flood of information is simply the first hurdle. Understanding its impact is the second. When a heat dome is predicted to cover the entire U.S. Pacific Northwest, risk managers must understand the specifics. Will it be more or less hot near their facilities? Do they know what steps local utilities are taking to protect the power grid? Such questions can’t be answered by a single system. Communication - Once you know which facilities are impacted and what actions to take, you need to let your employees know. If the event is urgent, an active shooter or an earthquake, do you have a fast, effective way to reach these employees? It’s not as simple as broadcasting a company-wide alert. The real question is, do you have the ability to pinpoint the location of your employees and not just those working on various floor in the office, but also those who are working from home? How AI and ML cut through the noise Although Artificial Intelligence can help us automate simple tasks, such as alert us to breaking news, it requires several Machine Learning systems to deliver actionable risk intelligence. Machine Learning is a branch of AI that uses algorithms to find hidden insights in data, without being programmed where to look or what to conclude. More than 90 percent of risk intelligence problems use supervised learning, a Machine Learning approach defined by its use of labelled datasets. The benefit of supervised learning is that it layers several pre-vetted datasets, in order to deliver context-driven AI The benefit of supervised learning is that it layers several pre-vetted datasets, in order to deliver context-driven AI. Reading the sources, it can determine the category, time and location, and cluster this information into a single event. As a result, it can correlate verified events to the location of the people and assets, and notify in real time. It’s faster, more customised and more accurate than simple Artificial Intelligence, based on a single source of data. Real-world actionable risk intelligence How does this work in the real world? One telecommunications company uses AI and ML to protect a mobile workforce, dispersed across several regions. An AI-powered risk intelligence solution provides their decision makers with real-time visibility into the security of facilities, logistics and personnel movements. Machine Learning filters out the noise of irrelevant critical event data, allowing their security teams to focus only on information specific to a defined area of interest. As a result, they’re able to make informed, proactive decisions and rapidly alert employees who are on the move. Four must-have AI capabilities To gain real actionable risk intelligence, an AI solution should support four key capabilities: A focus on sourcing quality over quantity. There are tens of thousands of sources that provide information about emerging threats - news coverage, weather services, social media, FBI intelligence and so much more. Select feeds that are trusted, relevant and pertinent to your operations. Swift delivery of relevant intelligence. To reduce the mean-time-to-recovery (MTTR), risk managers need an accurate understanding of what’s happening. Consider the different contextual meanings of the phrases ‘a flood of people in the park’ and ‘the park is at risk due to a flood’. Machine Learning continuously increases the speed of data analysis and improves interpretation. Ability to cross-reference external events with internal data. As it scans different data sources, an AI engine can help you fine-tune your understanding of what’s happening and where. It will pick up contextual clues and map them to your facilities automatically, so you know immediately what your response should be. Ready-to-go communications. Long before a threat emerges, you can create and store distribution, and message templates, as well as test your critical communications system. Handling these tasks well in advance means you can launch an alert at a moment’s notice. The ability to minimise disruptions and ensure business continuity depends on speed, relevance and usability. AI and ML aren’t simply hype. Instead, they’re vital tools that make it possible for security professionals to cut through the noise faster and protect their people, places and property.

The physical side of data protection
The physical side of data protection

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated our digital dependency, on a global scale. Data centres have become even more critical to modern society. The processing and storage of information underpin the economy, characterised by a consistent increase in the volume of data and applications, and reliance upon the internet and IT services. Data centres classed as CNI As such, they are now classed as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and sit under the protection of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). As land continues to surge in value, data centre operators are often limited for choice, on where they place their sites and are increasingly forced to consider developed areas, close to other infrastructures, such as housing or industrial sites. Complex security needs One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward. However, in practice, things are far more complex. On top of protecting the external perimeter, thought must also be given to factors, such as access control, hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM), protecting power infrastructure, as well as standby generators and localising security devices to operate independently of the main data centre. Face value How a site looks is more important than you may think. Specify security that appears too hostile risks blatantly advertising that you’re protecting a valuable target, ironically making it more interesting to opportunistic intruders. The heightened security that we recommend to clients for these types of sites, include 4 m high-security fences, coils of razor wire, CCTV, and floodlighting. When used together in an integrated approach, it’s easy to see how they make the site appear hostile against its surroundings. However, it must appear secure enough to give the client peace of mind that the site is adequately protected. Getting the balance right is crucial. So, how do you balance security, acoustics and aesthetics harmoniously? Security comes first These are essential facilities and as a result, they require appropriate security investment. Cutting corners leads to a greater long-term expense and increases the likelihood of highly disruptive attacks. Checkpoints Fortunately, guidance is available through independent accreditations and certifications, such as the Loss Prevention Certification Board’s (LPCB) LPS 1175 ratings, the PAS 68 HVM rating, CPNI approval, and the police initiative - Secured by Design (SBD). Thorough technical evaluation and quality audit These bodies employ thorough technical evaluation work and rigorous quality audit processes to ensure products deliver proven levels of protection. With untested security measures, you will not know whether a product works until an attack occurs. Specifying products accredited by established bodies removes this concern. High maintenance Simply installing security measures and hoping for the best will not guarantee 24/7 protection. Just as you would keep computer software and hardware updated, to provide the best level of protection for the data, physical security also needs to be well-maintained, in order to ensure it is providing optimum performance. Importance of testing physical security parameters Inspecting the fence line may seem obvious and straightforward, but it needs to be done regularly. From our experience, this is something that is frequently overlooked. The research we conducted revealed that 63% of companies never test their physical security. They should check the perimeter on both sides and look for any attempted breaches. Foliage, weather conditions or topography changes can also affect security integrity. Companies should also check all fixtures and fittings, looking for damage and corrosion, and clear any litter and debris away. Accessibility When considering access control, speed gates offer an excellent solution for data centres. How quickly a gate can open and close is essential, especially when access to the site is restricted. The consequences of access control equipment failing can be extremely serious, far over a minor irritation or inconvenience. Vehicle and pedestrian barriers, especially if automated, require special attention to maintain effective security and efficiency. Volume control Data centres don’t generally make the best neighbours. The noise created from their 24-hour operation can be considerable. HVAC systems, event-triggered security and fire alarms, HV substations, and vehicle traffic can quickly become unbearable for residents. Secure and soundproof perimeter As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing So, how do you create a secure and soundproof perimeter? Fortunately, through LPS 1175 certification and CPNI approval, it is possible to combine high-security performance and up to 28dB of noise reduction capabilities. As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing. Seamlessly locking thick timber boards create a flat face, making climbing difficult and the solid boards prevent lines of sight into the facility. For extra protection, steel mesh can either be added to one side of the fence or sandwiched between the timber boards, making it extremely difficult to break through. A fair façade A high-security timber fence can be both, aesthetically pleasing and disguise its security credentials. Its pleasant natural façade provides a foil to the stern steel bars and mesh, often seen with other high-security solutions. Of course, it’s still important that fencing serves its primary purposes, so make sure you refer to certifications, to establish a product’s security and acoustic performance. Better protected The value of data cannot be overstated. A breach can have severe consequences for public safety and the economy, leading to serious national security implications. Countering varied security threats Data centres are faced with an incredibly diverse range of threats, including activism, sabotage, trespass, and terrorism on a daily basis. It’s no wonder the government has taken an active role in assisting with their protection through the medium of the CPNI and NCSC. By working with government bodies such as the CPNI and certification boards like the LPCB, specifiers can access a vault of useful knowledge and advice. This will guide them to effective and quality products that are appropriate for their specific site in question, ensuring it’s kept safe and secure.

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.

Latest DSC news

Johnson Controls acquires Qolsys, Inc. to enhance its smart building solutions portfolio
Johnson Controls acquires Qolsys, Inc. to enhance its smart building solutions portfolio

Johnson Controls has announced it has acquired the remaining stake of Qolsys Inc., a globally renowned residential and commercial security and smart-home manufacturer, after owning a majority stake in the company since 2014. Smart building solutions expert Qolsys enhances Johnson Controls global innovation platform, delivering next generation security and smart building solutions. The Qolsys founders and leadership team will remain in Silicon Valley (San Jose, California), assuming key roles in Johnson Controls’ global intrusion business. Qolsys enhances Johnson Controls global innovation platform, delivering next-gen smart building solutions Johnson Controls continues in its mission to deliver smarter, safer, more intelligent and connected buildings, by deploying emerging technologies, such as embedded IP, artificial intelligence and machine learning through state-of-the-art solutions and partnerships. Johnson Controls is at the forefront of fundamental transformation of how spaces and places are perceived and enjoyed by balancing and responding to the flow of information, services and people that occupy buildings. OpenBlue digital platforms By applying data from both inside and outside buildings, Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue digital platforms empower customers to manage operations, while delivering safety and security in dynamic and agile environments.       "Qolsys has grown from a startup to a renowned security platform provider with over 4,000 dealers and service providers worldwide. Johnson Controls sees long-term opportunities to bring Silicon Valley innovation and culture to our broader cloud-enabled IoT solutions in building management, fire and HVAC businesses," said Jeff Williams, President of Global Products, Johnson Controls. "The opportunity to acquire Qolsys allows Johnson Controls to achieve operational efficiencies and scale across our global markets, while further enhancing the suite of products and services offered on our digital platform, OpenBlue." IQ Panel 2 Plus and peripherals The award-winning IQ Panel 2 Plus and peripherals have driven explosive growth in North America and across the globe with future-proof features, supported by over-the-air software updates, built-in panel camera, Bluetooth disarming and innovative installation, and diagnostic tools to reduce costs and increase user engagement and satisfaction. Qolsys continues to show consistent growth of services and dealers, which led to US$ 150 million in revenues during fiscal year 2019.    "As the world becomes more connected and the innovation curve continues to ramp at unprecedented speed, we are excited to join Johnson Controls," said Dave Pulling, Qolsys Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Dave will be occupying the post of Vice President and General Manager of the global intrusion products business for Johnson Controls, which had US$ 500 million in revenue in fiscal year 2019. Advanced cloud-enabled solutions firm This is a major milestone in our 10-year journey to disrupt and transform the security industry" Dave adds, "We are committed to our customers in the security channel while continuing to invest in our roadmap and emerging verticals around the globe. This is a major milestone in our 10-year journey to disrupt and transform the security industry with advanced cloud-enabled solutions that transcend traditional intrusion offerings including advanced automation, energy management, apartment management, building management and wellness for aging in place." The combined volume of Qolsys, DSC, Bentel, Visonic - PowerG and Tyco products positions Johnson Controls as the market share major in advanced security solutions worldwide. IQ Hub, Panel, Water and Router products Qolsys recently announced roadmap products, including the IQ Hub, a lower-priced, third-generation IQ Panel; the IQ Router, a next-generation mesh networking solution to elegantly address the rapidly complex connected home; IQ Water, a connected water shut-off valve designed for mass market retrofit and a fourth generation IQ Panel due in 2021 with Qualcomm chipset supporting AI, M2M and next generation connectivity. Johnson Controls will offer Qolsys products throughout global markets. The IQ Panel 2 Plus and a full line of security and home automation devices are available from authorised Qolsys distributors.

Camden promotes David Price to Vice President, Communications and Corporate Development
Camden promotes David Price to Vice President, Communications and Corporate Development

Camden Door Controls, global provider of door activation, control and locking products, is pleased to announce the promotion of David Price to the position of Vice President, Communications and Corporate Development. David joined Camden Door Controls as Marketing Manager in 2010 and has been instrumental in the rapid growth of the company since that time. Door solutions expert In his new position, Price will continue to manage all internal and external corporate communications, Camden’s Customer Service and Order Entry departments, as well as assume new responsibilities for the creation and implementation of new corporate strategies. David Price is a 35-year industry veteran and has held senior management roles with Simplex and the DSC Group of Companies (now Tyco/Johnson Controls/Tri-Ed/Anixter). He has also owned an integrated marketing communications company which supported several major brands in the security industry. Security industry veteran “David brings a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise to the newly created position of Vice President for Camden Door Controls,” notes Dave Malen, Camden's co-founder. “This promotion recognises the significant contribution he has made to our company over the past nine years and expands his role to support the next stage of our corporate evolution.”

Johnson Controls to launch LUX KONOzw Smart Hub thermostat with Z-Wave technology
Johnson Controls to launch LUX KONOzw Smart Hub thermostat with Z-Wave technology

Johnson Controls will soon announce the availability of the LUX KONOzw Smart Hub thermostat through its DSC channel. This is the first KONO thermostat featuring Z-Wave technology. KONOzw allows users to seamlessly connect DSC security systems, including PowerSeries Neo, iotega and PowerSeries Pro, when combined with SecureNet or Alarm.com interactive services to the smart thermostat through the Z-Wave smart hub. Universal compatibility KONOzw offers all the traditional modes of a smart thermostat, including heat & cool and works with forced air, gas, oil and electrical furnaces, giving end users the flexibility they need when choosing a thermostat. It also features universal compatibility with heat pump systems with or without Aux/Emergency heat and hydronic zone valves. KONOzw also provides flexible installation with battery (4 AA batteries included) or C-wire powering options. Its patent-pending interchangeable décor-snap covers enable users to personalise the device – adding individual flair to the thermostat. “The integration of KONOzw with Johnson Controls’ security systems illustrates the power of the smart home and our broad footprint for bringing innovative solutions to the market,” said Rob Munin, general manager of thermostats at Johnson Controls. Leveraging smart systems capabilities “The Z-Wave technology opens doors for organisations who want to integrate more functionality into a smart hub to further leverage the capabilities of their smart systems. We believe the KONOzw is an attractive solution for commercial and residential markets.” The use of Z-Wave technology allows the thermostat to connect to other parts of a smart home through Alarm.com or SecureNet, while using minimal resources, in turn increasing battery life and reducing overall operating costs. With complete customisability available, users can reap all the benefits of a sleek, easy-to-use smart thermostat, while personalising it to their home decor.

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