“It’s obvious that a prominent bank like BNP Paribas has to take processes like security extremely seriously", said Alan Ford, Security Manager at BNP Paribas. Spread over several office buildings, more than 4000 staff make daily use of the AEOS Security Management Platform to enter the restricted areas for which only they have been authorised. BNP Paribas needs be certain that they can rely on their access control system. Even though their previous Nedap WinXS system did just that, in 2011 they chose to migrate to Nedap AEOS as WinXS had come close to the end of its development cycle.

Hassle-free migration

BNP Paribas’ Security Management team had worked with their previous WinXS system for more than 13 years. It was so familiar that Security Manager Alan Ford said: “It was like riding a bike.”  For this reason the decision to make a transition to a new security management platform wasn’t an easy one. However AEOS had been tried and tested in the market and offered even higher security features and easier management, so it was an obvious candidate. This, combined with a safe, hassle-free, seamless migration pathway coordinated by Nedap and its certified Business Partner, made the choice easier.

Security stress test

To make sure that AEOS would achieve the same level of security as WinXS, the security platform was tested thoroughly. Alan Ford, “Before implementing AEOS, we asked an independent IT company to try to break into our IT systems. They used a little device with which they normally could ‘clone’ access cards without actually touching them. They had to admit that the AEOS encryption was so advanced, they didn’t have the technology to hack into the system. This is what we wanted to hear. It may not have been our main reason for selecting AEOS, but it certainly gave us the reassurance that AEOS would boost our security to a higher level.”

Customised access control

AEOS’ intuitive user interface takes the stress out of managing access passes
AEOS was installed at head office and nearby locations to access security for staff, catering staff and contractors

In addition to security itself, BNP Paribas has to take the security management seriously, with over 4000 people entering and leaving their buildings daily. AEOS is in use at both the head office and its nearby locations for access security for staff, flex workers, catering staff, contractors and cleaners.

Given the large numbers and different types and levels of staff, ease of management and flexibility are two essential requirements for those managing the security platform. AEOS can be set up to produce any form of pass for individuals or groups based on location, security level, clock time and duration. For example, at BNP Paribas, cleaners only access the building after working hours, so their passes have restricted time and area access.

Contractors work for fixed periods, and need to be visually identified; they are given different passes and their access is automatically blocked on the day their contract is finished. Employees need to be able to access their offices, the restaurant, the gym and specific rooms or departments; this can be set up for a specific role or group. If a pass is lost or mislaid, it can be blocked immediately and a new pass quickly generated. All these tasks are centrally managed at BNP Paribas, reducing the need for specialised AEOS management users at remote locations.

Unobtrusive, clever security

Another important requirement for BNP Paribas was that, although security has to be high, it mustn’t be too obtrusive, impeding staff movements or visitor comfort. Even though the speed gates and security officers at the reception desk make it obvious that visitors are entering a high secure area, AEOS meets these demands by operating easy and efficiently. The building’s design glass doors are fitted with elegant steel door handles. Cleverly and unobtrusively these handles contain a long distance card reader so that staff and guests never notice that they are entering a high security area.

Effective, intuitive management

Efficiency of access control is further improved by AEOS’ extremely intuitive user interface. This not only saves time, it takes the stress out of managing access passes for large numbers of diverse user needs. “This makes it possible to get people into the building quicker, giving them more time to make money”, Alan Ford noted.

“Besides, having a system that is really easy to pick up and really quick to use also saves a lot of time for the security management team. So, for what we need to do, it’s a perfect system”, Gitka Randackova, controlling operative, added.

"Here again we will use AEOS for access control. Implementing AEOS in the new building was an easy decision as we have already invested in AEOS"

Saving time and money from 2014 on, BNP Paribas will start using their new offices on the other side of the street, where AEOS has also been implemented. “Here again we will use AEOS for access control. Implementing AEOS in the new building was an easy decision as we have already invested in AEOS.

It was logical to stick to the same platform as we’re satisfied with its capabilities. We’re happy in the knowledge that we’ll be able to expand our use of the system in the future – both in user numbers as well as in functionality. Besides, when implementing AEOS across the road, we’ll still be able to have one central administration for all locations. This saves time and manpower, decreasing investments on several levels.”

Towards a high secure future

BNP Paribas are more than happy with AEOS, its current ease of use and flexibility for access control, as well as the inbuilt opportunities it offers for expanding use and improving security to an even higher level. They know that their access control is in secure hands, now and in the future.

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Drawbacks of PenTests and ethical hacking for the security industry
Drawbacks of PenTests and ethical hacking for the security industry

PenTesting, also known as “ethical hacking” or “white-hat hacking,” has always been viewed as the “sexy” side of cybersecurity, a task that is far more exciting than monitoring systems for intrusions, shoring up defenses, or performing compliance audits. Numerous security conferences are devoted to the fine art of attempting to hack into systems – with an owner’s full knowledge and permission – and reporting on the results. At an organisational level within businesses, they also value PenTesting under the premise that it allows them to identify security vulnerabilities before cyber criminals can. There are some regulatory requirements like PCI-DSS that require penetration assessments as part of their PCI compliance. However, many organisations have come to over-rely on PenTesting, thinking that if all the issues were identified in a PenTest, they’re good to go. Not only is this not helping them improve their security posture, it is also leaving them with a false sense of security. A penetration test is a simulated, live attack on your environment by a white-hat hacker What is PenTesting? A penetration test is a simulated, live attack on your environment by a white-hat hacker, customised to address specific problem areas, such as web-based applications, mobile applications and infrastructure services like border VPNs and firewalls. The PenTest may include different types of attacks based on the requested scope from an organisation so that the tester attempts to come at each system from all sides, the way a cyber-criminal would. The goal is to identify which systems and data the tester was able to access and how an organisation can address the vulnerabilities that allowed them to get in. The limitations of PenTesting There is great value in performing periodic PenTests, which is why PCI DSS and other security standards mandate them. However, PenTesting has three significant limitations: PenTesting does not provide solutions Let’s be honest: No one likes reading technical reports, but typically, that's the only deliverable provided by a PenTester. The value of a PenTesting report varies wildly based on the scope of the testing, the PenTester’s technical expertise and their writing ability. The tester may miss some things, or not clearly convey their findings. Additionally, a PenTest is a snapshot in time and the PenTester could miss changes in the systems, configurations, attack vectors and application environments. Even if your system “passes” a PenTest, will it crumble in the face of a brand new, more powerful attack vector that emerges a week later? The worst type of “PenTest report” consist of an analyst producing nothing more than the results of a vulnerability scan. Even if the PenTester produces a well-written, comprehensive report filled with valuable, actionable information, it’s up to your organisation to take the action, which leads to the next limitation of PenTesting. The value of a PenTesting report varies wildly based on the scope of the testing, the PenTester’s technical expertise and their writing ability PenTesters only exploit vulnerabilities and do not promote change PenTesting does not highlight the missing links in your organisation's technology stack that could help you address your security vulnerabilities. This is often in the guise of being agnostic to the technologies that exist because their expertise is only offensive security – unless, of course, the performing company has “magic software” to sell you. PenTests also do not help to develop your organisational processes. Additionally, they do not ensure that your employees have the knowledge and training needed to treat the identified fixes. Worst of all, if your in-house expertise is limited, any security issues that are identified during a PenTest aren't validated, which leads to a misrepresentation of their magnitude and severity while giving your team a false sense of security. PenTesters are self-serving Too often, PenTesting pits the assessment team against the organisation; the goal of the assessment team is to find the best way to "shame" the business into remediation, purchasing the testing company’s “magic software”, then call it a day. Once the PenTesters find, for example, a privilege escalation or a way to breach PII, they stop looking for other issues. The testers then celebrate the success of finding a single “flag”. In the meantime, the business is left in a precarious situation, since other unidentified issues may be lurking within their systems. Shifting the paradigm of PenTesting The goal of PenTesters is to find the best way to "shame" the business into purchasing the testing company’s “magic software”, then call it a day Penetration testing can uncover critical security vulnerabilities, but it also has significant limitations and it’s not a replacement for continuous security monitoring and testing. This is not to say that all PenTesting is bad. PenTesting should be integrated into a comprehensive threat and vulnerability management programme so that identified issues are addressed. The purpose of a mature vulnerability management programme is to identify, treat and monitor any identified vulnerabilities over its lifecycle. Vulnerability management programme Additionally, a vulnerability management programme requires the multiple teams within an organisation to develop and execute on the remediation plan to address the vulnerability. A mature threat and vulnerability management plan takes time and is helpful to partner with a managed security services provider (MSSP) to help you in the following areas: Improve your cyber-risk management program so that you can identify and efficiently address vulnerabilities in your infrastructure, applications and other parts within your organisation’s ecosystem on a continuous basis; Perform retests to validate any problems identified through a vulnerability scan or a PenTest assessment; Ensure that your in-house staff has the knowledge, skills and tools they need to respond to incidents. Cyber risk management and remediation is a "team sport." While periodic testing conducted by an external consultant satisfies compliance requirements, it is not a replacement for continuous in-house monitoring and testing. To ensure that your systems are secure, you must find a partner who not only performs PenTesting but also has the engineering and development experience to assist you in fixing these types of complex problems in a cost-effective manner and ensuring that your systems are hardened against tomorrow’s attacks.

Has the gap closed between security fiction and security reality?
Has the gap closed between security fiction and security reality?

Among its many uses and benefits, technology is a handy tool in the fantasy world of movie and television thrillers. We all know the scene: a vital plot point depends on having just the right super-duper gadget to locate a suspect or to get past a locked door. In movies and TV, face recognition is more a super power than a technical function. Video footage can be magically enhanced to provide a perfect image of a license plate number. We have all shaken our heads in disbelief, and yet, our industry’s technical capabilities are improving every day. Are we approaching a day when the “enhanced” view of technology in movies and TV is closer to the truth? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How much has the gap closed between the reality of security system capabilities and what you see on TV (or at the movies)?

How moving to Security as a Service benefits both providers and end users
How moving to Security as a Service benefits both providers and end users

The way we purchase services and products is changing. The traditional concept of buying and owning a product is giving way to the idea that it is possible to purchase the services it offers instead. This approach has come from the consumer realisation that it is the outcome that is important rather than the tools to achieve it. For example, this approach is evident with the rise of music streaming services as opposed to downloads or physical products.   With the physical security industry becoming ever more integrated – and truly open systems now a reality – there is every reason to assume this service-lead trend will come to dominate the way our industry interacts with its clients as well. Interest in service-based security There is a significant change of mindset that the security industry needs to embrace before a large-scale move to Security as a Service can take place. Like many technology sectors in the past, security providers have focussed on ‘shifting boxes’ as their definitive sales model. This approach was especially prevalent when proprietary systems were the mainstay of the security industry. Essentially, if the customer wanted more services they simply bought a new product. This was a straightforward and economic sales approach for manufacturers and installers alike.The security industry needs to embrace a change of mindset before a move to SaaS can take place The flexibility of integrated and open technology has changed the way consumers view their purchase, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that there is increased interest in a service-based approach. Customer choice equates to a change of focus and interest, with physical products being eclipsed by the benefits of the overall solution. We have already seen these changes in other technology areas, notably with smart devices and general IT systems. Cloud-based services put the onus on the result rather than which device the user chooses. This approach is even starting to manifest in areas that couldn’t have been predicted in the past, such as the car industry for example. Consumers are focusing more on the overall costs and convenience of buying a car over the specific specification of the vehicle. Equally, urban dwellers don’t necessarily want the hassle and expense of owning and parking their own vehicle anymore. If you don’t use it every day, it can make more sense to rent a vehicle only when you travel beyond public transport. For these consumers the car has become a service item for a specific journey. Benefits for end users At the heart of this approach is the simple equation that consumers have a need and suppliers need to provide the most cost-effective, and easiest, solution. At the same time, the security operator may not necessarily want to know (or care) what specification the system has, they just want it to perform the task as required.   By discussing with consumers, we can ensure we work even more closely with them to provide the expert support they need and deserve Most security buyers will identify the specific business needs and their budget to achieve this. This is where a service approach really comes into its own. Customers need expert advice on a solution for their requirements which takes away the stress of finding the right products/systems. In the past there was always a risk of purchasing an unsuitable solution, which could potentially be disastrous. The other issue was having to budget for a big capital expenditure for a large installation and then having to find further resources once an upgrade was due when systems went end of life. Most businesses find it far easier to pay a sensible monthly or annual fee that is predictable and can easily be budgeted for. A service model makes this far easier to achieve. Benefits of a service sales model As well as the benefits for end users, there are considerable benefits for security providers too. Rather than simply ‘shifting boxes’ and enduring the inevitable sales peaks and toughs this creates; a service sales model allows manufacturers and installers to enjoy a more stable business model. You don’t have to win new business with every product, but rather sell ongoing services for a set period. Its highly likely that the whole security industry will start to take this approach over the next few years. Manufacturers are already well aware of this shift in customer expectations and are changing their approach to meet demands.There are major opportunities on offer in return for a change of perspective in the security industry With the service and leasing approach already firmly entrenched in other industries, this is well proven in a consumer market. The airline industry is a great example. Manufacturers understand that airlines need flexibility to upscale and downscale operations and therefore whole aircraft and even individual key components (such as engines or seating) can be leased as required. Using this approach, airlines can concentrate on what customers demand and not worry about the logistics of doing this. Manufacturers and leasing businesses provide assurances and guarantees of service time for aircraft and engines, taking care of the servicing and maintenance to ensure this delivery. This approach is just as well suited for the provision of security systems. Servicing the future security market Undoubtedly there are major opportunities on offer in return for a change of perspective in the security industry. However, this will involve substantial changes in some quarters to ensure the business model is aligned with the market. Overall, the security industry needs to not only develop the right systems for the market, but also to deliver them in the right way as well. This will ensure we work even more closely with customers to provide the expert support they need and deserve.