Paving The Way To Freedom
Physical security embraces benefits of the network
- By Scott Sieracki
- Oct 01, 2015
IT leaders today face complex threats in protecting corporate IT networks
from cyber threats that include spoofing, data theft, denial-of-service attacks
and many other network risks. Enterprise IT departments incorporate
multi-layered defense strategies, designed to ensure that any device on the IT
network is protected from a large variety of potential threats.
As physical security devices continue to embrace the benefits of network-enabled
communication, it opens the door to vulnerabilities. Video surveillance networks
can, and have, been used as an entry point for malware. As more customers
deploy comprehensive IP security solutions that incorporate IP-enabled edge
devices and platforms, it becomes more critical to ensure end-to-end IT security
throughout the physical security network.
Less concern has been given to next-generation access control solutions. But
that is mostly because of the fact that a majority of enterprises today still rely on
traditional, legacy access control solutions to manage access to their facilities. In
this article, we take a closer look at the drawbacks to legacy access control systems
as well as review the benefits, and risks, of transitioning to the next evolution of
access control technologies.
SAFEGUARDING AND DRIVING RESPONSE
At its core, physical access control solutions (PACS) are designed to safeguard
against unauthorized individuals, and serve as a key component of incident and
emergency response. Over the past three decades, PACS architecture has essentially
remained unchanged. The most important part of the system—granting or
denying access—still resides in traditional hardware distributed throughout an organization.
These hardware-centric PACS have significant disadvantages including
high initial and ongoing costs, the inability to integrate with other systems and,
because of the inherent restricted architecture, they cannot support sophisticated
authentication processes, such as those outlined by the government.
Because traditional hardware-centric PACS architecture limits the capabilities
of access control, advanced features and real-time authentication and authorization
capabilities are not easily attained. Rather, users have to invest in implementing
costly third-party solutions or custom-designing applications. To date, cost
and reliability factors have kept such capabilities out of reach for most PACS customers—
even though IP-based surveillance systems have capitalized on similar
features for more than a decade.
There is, however, a significant change on the horizon. Today’s critical business
systems are software-centric and require specialized hardware only at the final
points of physical interaction (imagine a smart phone or a POS system). These
platforms leverage common IT infrastructure to achieve high levels of reliable
performance at acceptable levels of cost. Why shouldn’t an organization’s access
control system be similar?
IT-centric access control is similar to any network-enabled business application
that leverages end devices on the corporate network. This approach streamlines
identity, credentialing and access management, and ensures that these processes
are integrated with other business systems.
Applications utilize network infrastructure to obtain real-time data, gather enhanced
situational awareness, increase asset protection and apply policy-based access
control measures to minimize risks and threats. Information within the PACS
is easily shared with key stakeholders in the event of an emergency, supporting
faster response and proactive approaches to security. Real-time decision-making is
enabled and immediate access to critical data drives faster response.
BENEFIT VS. RISK
As the interest in IT-centric access control grows because of the far-reaching
benefits, it will be critical for users to protect corporate networks from risks faced
through traditional IT threats, as well as those that can be funneled through devices
that reside on the corporate backbone. Today’s security devices are vulnerable
to IT threats just like any other IT device. But it is important to keep in mind
that PACS that leverage common processes technologies from the IT world, a
wide variety will ensure protection of the IT network. Why? These fundamentals
have been tested and enhanced.
Moving to the next evolution of PACS takes work. It’s fundamentally different
architecture, which may seem daunting to users that currently manage traditional
solutions. But if companies can work to gain buy-in from users and senior
management, the benefits of moving to next-generation PACS are far-reaching.
Moving towards IT-centric deployments allows organizations to realize significant
advantages that enhance physical and IT security, infrastructure and networking
functionality across the enterprise.
Network-enabled platforms conform to an IT department’s plan and policies,
and leverage common IT methods such as PoE, server redundancy and autofailover.
It drives collaboration between security and IT teams because it can derive
value from the system. Unified physical and logical identity becomes more of
a reality with IP-based PACS because native support for corporate directory and
identity management systems streamline system administration and management
for both security leaders and IT departments.
Next-generation PACS deliver additional benefits, as well. It eases integration
through well-established and trusted standards, which reduce integration complexity.
Mobile credentialing is also supported, enabling users to perform real-time
device authentication. Today’s smart card technology is also supported—without
third-party devices or middleware. This drives digital certification authentication
compatible with federal identity standards such as FIPS 201.
By leveraging the existing IT infrastructure, next-generation PACS conforms
to IT policies for system security and resilience, allowing access control to be deployed
in the same manner that IT deploys other business systems. The ability to
integrate easily with other IT solutions is streamlined because of
a high level of interoperability based on IT standards. This approach
drives the correlation of unified logical/physical identity,
credentialing and access data, enabling users’ access to higher levels
of data collection and analysis than ever before.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Security Today.