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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.
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.
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.
Global security solutions provider, RISCO Group, is taking its team of experts to The Security Event at the NEC Birmingham this April. Agility4 wireless system From the 9th to the 11th of April, RISCO’s team of engineers and product professionals will be showcasing the company’s latest products including the recently updated Agility4 wireless system which includes outdoor intruder detection, a newly designed keypad and a PIR (passive infrared) camera detector. The team will also be introducing new wireless keypads, detectors and communication devices at the show. The event is dedicated to UK security professionals, installers and integrators who will have the chance to experience RISCO’s innovative technology first-hand as well as learning about upcoming releases. Ian Stones, Head of UK sales at the firm, said “We have some really exciting and innovative product releases coming up this year including a potentially game changing device which will be unveiled for the first time at the show. We can’t wait to introduce these new developments to our installers.” Installer Cloud Visitors to our stand on SE56 will have the opportunity to see the Secured by Design accredited Installer Cloud and the new Agility4 system" He adds, “I’m looking forward to sharing more at The Security Event and RISCO’s team of experienced engineers will also be available for technical demonstrations and to answer any questions. Visitors to our stand on SE56 will have the opportunity to see the Secured by Design accredited Installer Cloud and the new Agility4 system. We love bringing our technology to life and can’t wait to join our industry peers at the event.” Further to speakers and interactive educational content, The Security Event will also host a ‘Designing Out Crime Zone’ in association with Secured by Design, a national police crime prevention initiative. “We are looking forward to revealing updates, launching new products and sharing expert knowledge with visitors to the event,” added Ian.
RISCO Group, globally renowned intruder alarm and security solutions provider has launched a new wireless product designed to deliver an enhanced performance for UK installations. The Agility 4 is a wireless, modular and multi-layered security systemAgility 4 multi-layered security system The Agility 4 is a wireless, modular and multi-layered security system which includes a new range of accessories available immediately with more add-ons expected to follow. With an enhanced choice of communication modules, ranging from IP to 3G, the new solution is designed to provide an adaptable solution for any type of installation and monitoring. Multi-socket communication modules enable parallel reporting to the cloud and monitoring stations with multiple IP addresses using one communication module. Enhanced intrusion detection Detecting intruders outside, before they enter the property was a key challenge as the risk of false alarms has historically been an issue in new security systems. This was a significant design consideration in respect of the design of the new Agility4 system with the inclusion of the new Beyond Wireless DT outdoor detector. Beyond Wireless leverages cutting-edge outdoor detection technologies and algorithms based on four detection channels. It is widely regarded as one of the most secure wireless outdoor detectors in the industry. The multi-layered protection includes cover tamper, active IR Anti-Mask and an accelerometer-based shock sensor. If force is applied to the detector, the shock sensor generates a tamper alert to the panel. Indoor and outdoor camera detectors RISCO Group has now developed both indoor and outdoor camera detectors for alarm verification with new features RISCO Group has now developed both indoor and outdoor camera detectors for alarm verification with new features including Agility 4’s ability to receive a short clip of the event alongside a series of snapshots through an integrated camera. Upon detection, the camera is triggered automatically with snapshots and video clips available to the end user and the monitoring station simultaneously; all of which can be enabled by an installer using RISCO Cloud, the manufacturer’s remote, cloud-based system. Remote, cloud-based wireless system The complimentary range of new accessories include a contemporary keypad, a compact key fob and award-winning BWare detector now available as wireless. A Beyond Wireless DT detector camera will also be released in the forthcoming months, along with a discreet PIR detector and contemporary indoor sounder. Commenting on the launch, Ian Stones, head of sales for RISCO UK: “For a long time, RISCO has led the way for cloud-based wireless intruder system technology. Agility 4 moves this on a step further with significantly enhanced technology and improved aesthetics demanded by today’s end user customer.”
The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is pleased to announce the gold sponsors for this year’s NSI Summit 2018 taking place in March at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham are confirmed as BT Redcare, CSL, RISCO Group and summit partner, IFSEC International, all of whom are preparing to share updates, industry insights and product demonstrations. Exclusively open to all NSI approved companies spanning security, guarding services and fire safety, and industry stakeholders including the Police and Insurer Community, the summit, now in its fifth year, is growing from strength to strength. Alongside the gold sponsors and summit partner, NSI approved companies will have access to the UK’s leading equipment, technology and business support providers, with over 60 exhibitors across two halls. Delegates will benefit from: a Plenary session featuring the latest industry updates; an educational seminar programme led by high calibre specialists incorporating master-classes, panel discussion and case study presentations; one-to-one sessions with NSI industry experts; and not-to-be-missed special offers.The NSI Summit has always delivered in terms of staying abreast of current developments Building security partnerships John Ware, General Manager, BT Redcare comments “BT Redcare is again delighted to be sponsoring the NSI Summit which will bring into focus the latest initiatives, standards and developments in the industry. Redcare plays a key part in all these areas and we’re looking forward to meeting with delegates – we have lots to share.” Speaking on behalf of CSL, Group Managing Director Simon Banks states “CSL are delighted to be a headline sponsor of the NSI Summit, for the 5th year in a row. It’s a must attend event in the Fire & Security calendar. Visit us on the day to find out more about our latest innovations and make the most of our live product demonstrations, whilst catching up with the team.” Greg Smith, Field Marketing Manager, RISCO Group adds “This is a fantastic event which has always delivered in terms of staying abreast of current developments and providing an opportunity for NSI approved companies to meet with the leading players within the industry. We’re delighted to support this key event.”This year’s summit theme of ‘Strengthening Partnerships’ explores the relationship between the private and public sectors Community security Gerry Dunphy, Brand Director IFSEC & FIREX International, said, “IFSEC is delighted once again to be a key partner of the NSI Summit in 2018. All NSI approved companies are essential to IFSEC and we always welcome an opportunity to meet with them to relay the key developments for the show in 2018. Our major offering for the installer community this year is the ‘Show Me How’ programme which will emphasise a wide range of learning opportunities and exhibitor demonstrations which will help our installer customers better understand the capabilities and potential of the technologies on offer at IFSEC 2018.” This year’s summit theme of ‘Strengthening Partnerships’ explores the relationship between the private and public sectors, shining a spotlight on working closer together to safeguard people, property and the wider community. Maintaining industry standards NSI Chief Executive, Richard Jenkins comments, “We would like to thank BT Redcare, CSL, RISCO Group and IFSEC International for their continued collaboration on the NSI Summit. This essential one-day event is specially designed for NSI Approved Companies, the UK’s elite within the security and fire safety companies, to keep them abreast of industry developments and provide an important opportunity to share best practice, conduct business and meet face-to-face with our sponsors and exhibitors who provide an array of expertise within the security and fire safety sectors. It centres on maintaining the highest standards within our industry.”
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