Decoding Data Privacy Regulations

There are three types of organizations: Those who have been hacked; those who are doing everything in their power to not be hacked; and those who are being hacked right now, without even knowing it. This is the reality we now live in, made evident by the endless stream of news stories about large-scale data breaches affecting companies, big and small, across nearly every industry. But this doesn’t just affect the private sector—the federal government is facing similar challenges and taking action to both prevent and deter cyber-attacks through legislation.

With these escalating cyber threats affecting the United States Government, compromised devices, servers, data, and user accounts have quickly become definite risks to our national security. In the face of this ever-evolving landscape, both federal and state governments are taking action to better safeguard both Department of Defense (DoD) and consumer data. If this sounds complex, you’re not alone; but it’s easier to decode than you might think.

Data Privacy Decoded

In response to these threats, U.S. congress has amended the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by signing into law the John S. McCain NDAA, outlining both budgets and expenditures for DoD programs. This includes the Chinese hardware ban, placed into effect in August of 2019, barring all government agencies from buying, or even contracting to buy, video surveillance equipment from specified manufacturers. This also extends to vendors that have OEM, ODM, and JDM relationships—or those who utilize “essential components” and “crucial technology” from those companies.

These new regulations, including the prominent Defense Federal Acquisition and Regulation Supplement (DFARS), will now require all outside contractors to provide “adequate security” measures for defense information that is processed, stored, or transmitted on the contractor’s internal information system or network. But it isn’t just the federal government stepping in, individual states have begun to enact their own regulations to better safeguard their citizens as well, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). All this to say, there is no escaping the changes posed by these new digital hazards.

What does this mean for the physical security industry? This not only points to cybersecurity becoming a mainstay consideration for end users; it also means manufacturers and integrators will be held to a higher standard. While deficient cybersecurity standards reflect poorly on integrators, they can also make them complicit in any issues that may arise in the future. For example, in 2018 ADT was forced to settle a $16 million class action lawsuit when the company installed wireless systems that left users open to hacks.

Evaluating Your Risks

Surveillance solutions are collecting unprecedented amounts of data, with the ability to track everything from facial expressions to body characteristics, behavior, actions, location, and more. While the technology itself isn’t posing an issue, the way it’s used can easily become one. Foreign entities and hackers alike are increasingly exploiting security devices to gain access to private systems. No matter your industry, there are organizations around the world interested in obtaining data from your network to manipulate information that can impact your business and consumers.

With the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices, there is no doubt that physical security systems have become more intelligent than ever before, but this doesn’t come without some drawbacks. While they may be smart, IoT devices are often considered “soft” targets that cybercriminals can make use of to cripple a physical security system from the inside out. These interconnected systems can only be as strong as their weakest link, making data protection measures key.

While data breaches, ransomware, and hacks are the usual concerns, many organizations also overlook the physical danger presented by weak cybersecurity practices. Large organizations that utilize surveillance devices alongside advanced analytics programs often leave themselves open to a physical attack without realizing it. By paralyzing a physical security system remotely, intruders can then enter facilities undetected, putting workers and assets in harm’s way.

Protecting Yourself

As a starting point, knowing where your video surveillance system comes from is crucial. With named foreign governments utilizing video surveillance technology to spy on their own citizens, the question must be asked: Where is your security system manufactured?

Decentralized technology is another important factor to consider. This basic concept ensures data collection and analytics are completely self-managing and inherently protected from a system-wide breach. Simply put, this means the surveillance system itself has minimized the points of access for hackers.

Technology aside, there are also some best practices that both integrators and end users can employ to help secure their surveillance systems. Keeping camera firmware up to date, always changing default passwords, and creating user groups with separate rights to ensure they only have the access they need are all simple ways for end users to keep up their cyber hygiene. Additionally, setting encryption keys for surveillance recordings can safeguard footage and prevent hackers from accessing the system through a backdoor.

Similarly, integrators should always advise end users to program and enable notifications in order to keep up-to-date with all system happenings, and to check their web server log on a regular basis to see who is accessing the system. Configuring a virtual private network (VPN) connection can also aid in secured remote access.

In this new era of data privacy regulations, it truly takes a village. End users will need to demand devices and software with cyber-protections built in; manufacturers must place a higher priority upon cybersecurity; and integrators will have to be more informed about the technology they choose to install.

Looking toward the future, these changes may seem daunting, but they are intended to bring about a new world of possibilities for the industry. Integrators that ease their client’s cyber-woes will be a step ahead of the pack. By choosing to work with cyber-focused manufacturers who prioritize device penetrating testing, encryption, and best practices, integrators can quickly gain a competitive advantage.

Digital Edition

  • Security Today Magazine - March 2020

    March 2020

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    • Transforming the Industry
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    • Common Mistakes
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