Helping Security Directors Sleep at Night
Taking a positive role in how security is managed
- By Kim Rahfaldt
- Mar 01, 2016
Every day the news bombards the public with the newest security
breach: stolen identities, intellectual property breaches, unauthorized
access, active shooter situations and more. The list of threats is
endless. Security directors of companies large and small have their
work cut out for them trying to keep their employees, assets and
buildings safe from harm. Threats come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found
outside and inside an organization. They can be physical in nature, such as a terminated
employee returning to a job site to hurt the person who fired them, someone
stealing cooper tubing from a fenced in area or a terrorist attack.
With all these overwhelming threats, it is a wonder a security director sleeps at all.
Each security director deals with his or her unique security requirements and
factors surrounding their business the best way they can, with the resources they
have. The type and size of the business play a large role in how security is managed.
Often, several systems must be integrated to run and secure a company efficiently,
creating even more challenges. Let’s examine three situations that might keep a
security director up at night and how to improve those processes.
Three types of identities enter an organization each day. Employees, who are vetted
with background checks prior to being hired, are considered the safest identities
within a building.
Next are contractors, who may or may not be vetted via a background check,
depending on the type of business. Contractors are considered semi-safe. They
have access to limited areas and are free to roam about those areas. When their
work is finished, their access cards are terminated.
Then there are visitors, who are the riskiest of all. Organizations do not know
anything about the visitors who enter their buildings. They could be customers,
students, patients or tourists. They could have a police record, be on a terror watch
list or be an angry spouse of a woman working on the 8th floor. Daily visitors pose
the biggest threat to organizations.
How can a security director better manage the daily influx of visitors?
They can start by implementing a web-based visitor management system that
actively engages all staff to help pre-approve and vet guests. If an employee is expecting
a guest, they can enter the guest into the visitor management (VM) software.
The VM software will not only notify the security staff that a guest is arriving,
but it will send the guest a welcoming email. The email could include directions to
the company, a map, and instructions about where to park or how to use the VM
system upon arrival. Once the guest arrives, they can speak with the receptionist
who will acknowledge them in the VM system and issue a guest pass. They may
also perform a self-check-in at a kiosk or free standing tablet, or use a barcode or
QR code that was sent to their phone.
The important factor here is that the guest is pre-approved by a trusted employee
acting as a host. The VM system knows who the guest is, who they are
visiting, what time they arrive, the reason for their visit and most importantly, that
they checked out and their access to your assets has been removed.
If there is an issue with a guest, for example, they are a past employee who was
recently terminated, that information would appear to the employee managing the
visit. The VM system knows who are former employees, and also generates a do
not admit and/or watch list.
A guest appearing on a do not admit list would not be allowed in the building.
The web- based system manages all visitors, contractors and staff access rights
from a single interface that can either stand alone or integrate with the PACS to
deliver tight policy control, accountability and ultimately better security.
Power companies often have several small unmanned substations located in remote
areas. If the wrong person gains access to an unmanned, or even a manned,
substation, the potential for catastrophe is high. One unauthorized person can
wipe out the power for hundreds of miles, causing chaos on the highways, local
businesses and disrupting thousands of homes. Not to mention what a crisis could
do to a power company’s brand, facility or intellectual property.
Creating policies and procedures to help manage access is critical. Setting policies
such as a use it or lose it rule can help control access. For example, if an
identity has not used their access card at a particular door, such as an unmanned
substation for a month, the identity should automatically lose access rights to that
door. Setting strict timeframes tightens security.
Software that provides robust identity and compliance audits and reports goes
a long way to track employee attempts to access specified areas after hours and
identify possible unauthorized access. Research shows that security breaches derive
from internal employees as well as outside an organization. Breaches can be
inadvertent or intentional. An Identity Audit and Compliance (IAC) system manages
physical access and integrates it with back-end or building systems, such as
IT or human resources, to allow an organization to manage a person’s identity
throughout their employment.
Automated IAC systems managing physical access and policy information provide
better controls, smoother on-boarding and off-boarding, give new employees
proper access to areas or digital assets they may need, as well as revoke access
when the person leaves the company. This eliminates a security team from manually
removing access from each separate system, which is time consuming, errorprone
With an IAC system, organizations can define policies and procedures, create
an audit trail of events and eliminate miss-steps that lead to unauthorized access.
The security director of a large bank once shared his concern over improper termination
procedures. When an employee is terminated or leaves voluntarily, how can
a security director be sure they are truly terminated in all systems? Large banks
often use several systems such as an access control system, visitor management
system, PSIMs and different building management systems. Is there an easy way
to manage this?
Installing a centralized web-based Identity Audit and Compliance system
streamlines the administration of access rights across an entire organization. When
an employee is terminated, the information is entered once in the web-based system.
A workflow process can be adopted for administrators to configure employee
access and termination status that will automatically filter through to all systems.
A web-based system eliminates miscommunication, and replaces manual and
paper-based approval, change and audit processes. No paperwork is needed, and
an audit trail proves the person was terminated in all places.
Implementing automatic revocation rules also help ensure employees are terminated.
Automated quarterly audits enforce managers to review employee access rights
and make necessary changes. The more often the audits occur, the more secure a
facility is. All departments become involved, ensuring better safety for everyone.
Security directors must deploy the best technology available and enlist the help
of employees to effectively manage visitors. Companies must align their security
protocols with their organization’s policies and procedures to enforce operational
effectiveness. An Identity Audit and Compliance system helps
an organization develop an audit trail of events, reduce manual
errors which can result in unauthorized access and security
breaches, and streamline access rights to ensure employee access
is properly terminated throughout all company systems.
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Security Today.