Connecting Disparate Systems
Multiple-vendor link access control systems across all geographic locations
- By Jasvir Gill
- May 01, 2015
NERC compliance requirements in the utilities industry have
made it essential to monitor and report on physical access to
various facilities, control rooms, substations and critical assets.
A major utility company in the United States, whom we will call
UTILCO, completed a large merger. As the operations were being
combined, UTILCO wanted to have a system that allowed its corporate security
managers to use job roles to decide who has access to specific facilities and
how much area access they should have within those facilities.
Adding to the complexity, they were going through an end-of-life on their existing
access control systems. They faced the challenge of needing to migrate to new
access control systems from a different vendor, while unifying access management
across two large employee populations that were being combined into one company.
During this process, all badges must continue to function and their activity
logged for compliance purposes.
The Enterprise Guardian solution from AlertEnterprise was selected for its
ability to maintain enterprise roles for each and every employee, and make any
changes to underlying badging systems totally transparent to the users.
Readily available connectors to existing badging systems allowed all information
to be consolidated in the identity repository. Security managers could now enroll
identities, create badges, assign area access and disable badges from one place
to deliver a single comprehensive, unified badge access system for the requesting
and granting of physical access across the entire enterprise.
UTILCO can now apply uniform policies across all its facilities with regards to
NERC, NERC CIP, FERC and company rules. AlertEnterprise can serve as the
system of record for access across the enterprise for large user base comprising of
employees, contractors, visitors and contingent workers.
UTILCO could extend the useful life of its legacy systems, ease the process of
migration to new systems for enterprise-wide access control, and meet compliance
requirements. Eliminating the need to separately manage multiple systems reduces
cost while reducing risk and enhancing security across the organization.
The utility company and the acquired company each had deployed the same
legacy access control system. Their current system is at end-of-life and UTILCO
has chosen a new product to be its replacement. The acquired company implemented
a self-service interface that enables employees and contractors to request
access to areas across the enterprise. It serves as the means for its staff to request
NERC-CIP area access with manager and area owner approvals.
Separately, UTILCO developed a custom application to provide a sub-set of
such capabilities for that enterprise.
AlertEnterprise was selected for the merged entity to migrate to a solution that
could handle roles-based identities from both companies and scale to the larger
staff population. AlertEnterprise unifies and manages provisioning, reporting and
incident response across multi-vendor access control systems.
AlertEnterprise solves a critical problem many organizations are facing when
attempting to unify provisioning and reporting across access systems that are already
installed. With AlertEnterprise software, organizations can enhance their
return on existing investments in current installations and yet derive added benefits
of enhanced risk analysis, compliance automation and active policy enforcement.
Reporting is a key security audit requirement. AlertEnterprise automates reporting
and solves the problem of consolidating and delivering reports through a
highly configurable interface.
The software helps stitch together multiple vendor badging systems into a centrally
controlled enterprise-class access control system. It also integrates with HR
Systems, active directory and enterprise applications. Now organizations can unify
access control across the enterprise and if needed, make the migration for replacement
access control systems seamless.
- Supports both self-service and on-behalf-of models for access requests.
- Enables remote badge access activation.
- Delivers recertification and site access reauthorization.
- Encourages multi-vendor access control management.
- Implements processes to handle stolen/lost/broken badges.
- Incorporates NERC-CIP and FERC requirements in each of these processes.
- Offers a single, comprehensive, unified solution for the request and granting of
physical access across the enterprise.
- Shields business users from the details of the disparate, underlying PACS systems—
Picture Perfect and AMAG- during the transformation process.
- Provides for the integration of background verification and training/certification
completion during the process of credentialing.
- Serves as the system of record across a diverse, geographically
dispersed user demographic comprising employees, contractors,
and contingent workers.
- Deploys a highly available, fault tolerant solution deployment to
meet the Duke Energy SLA for a critical business function.
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Security Today.