The Evolution of Risk
How security entrances address vulnerabilities today
Risk prevention has always been a fundamental
part of business planning and operations. And
while the various forms of protection available
have evolved over the years, so also has risk.
About 20 years ago, professional security was
mostly limited to night watchmen, armored trucks and closed circuit
video cameras wired to VCRs. The main entrance to all
but the most secure government or sensitive facilities would encompass
nothing more than a set of glass doors and perhaps a
receptionist visually checking ID cards from behind a desk.
Events between 1990 and 2001 changed those ideas forever.
The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the Enron scandal
leading to a multitude of compliance laws, the shootings at Columbine
High School and ultimately the events on 9/11 ushered in
a new age of security that now encompasses cybersecurity as well.
Security and life safety have always been in lockstep, as they
are both fundamental needs of organizations to shield people and
property from harm. Today, these two concerns are merging in an
unprecedented way as the global COVID-19 pandemic is causing
a paradigm shift in operations. Now it is also necessary to protect
ourselves from the handles, buttons and other structural components
of buildings we regularly need to touch for entry and exit.
PROBLEMS PRESENTED AT ENTRY POINTS
The entry has always been one of the most vulnerable and
critical points in a facility. Whether the concern is compliance,
cybersecurity, terrorism, violence, theft or any of the hundreds of
other risks facing businesses, it is of fundamental importance to
secure any location where people can enter a facility.
From a security perspective, the objective is to keep any unauthorized
individuals out of the building or off the campus.
Further, within each building, the objective is to ensure that any
individual division, area, wing or room can only be entered by
those who are authorized to be in that place at that time.
From a life safety perspective, since the entry is also the exit, it
needs to provide the means for rapid and safe egress in case of an
emergency. From a health perspective, many organizations are now
adding the requirement that entry and exit be “touchless” as well.
Over the years, as risk evolved, the security industry’s approach to
entry began to change along with it. Better locks were developed, and
access control readers were placed at doors both outside and inside
facilities, requiring a card swipe or tap to unlock the door. As the technology
matured, the products became more sophisticated, with Wi-Fi
locks, mobile credentials and biometrics among the developments.
THE SHORTFALLS OF SWINGING DOORS
While these advancements were significant, they did not address
an important security shortfall. The majority of facility
doors, both exterior and interior, are still standard swinging
doors. There are many different form factors and types of locks
for these doors, and the software that manages their locking and
unlocking has become more advanced.
However, the doors themselves still work in the same way as
they always have; when unlocked, they swing open and then close
again. They may close, and/or re-lock, automatically – but once
they are open, there is no barrier to entry for one or more people.
Even if a door is held open for only a few seconds, it fully negates
the security function of the doors, since multiple unauthorized individuals
can enter this way. There are many ways this can happen. A person
may slip quickly through behind another, while “pretending” to search
for their ID card. One authorized person can enter and pass their credentials
back through the door for a second person to use. Or the door
may simply be held politely for the next person to pass through.
Placing security officers or installing tailgating analytics technology
at each entrance can help to mitigate these risks. However, guards can
be misled by a false ID or a good story. For example, “white-hat” penetration
testers have proven that a clean-cut man wearing khaki slacks
and a polo shirt, carrying a ladder and a clipboard, and claiming to
be there to provide some kind of maintenance, will almost always be
allowed to enter without credentials. Most tailgating detection technology
such as sensors with alarms, is reactive, alerting management
only after the unauthorized person has already breached the facility.
Also, of course, none of this addresses the issue of virus transmission
from touching surfaces that others have touched.
SECURITY ENTRANCES DELIVER A SOLUTION
Security entrances can solve many of the problems of entry
while offering numerous additional benefits. Unlike standard
swinging doors, a security entrance, such as a turnstile with barriers,
a security revolving door or mantrap portal, is designed to
allow entry for only one authorized user at a time.
Some types of security entrances require local supervision and
operate as a deterrent, while others work in such a way to prevent
any type of tailgating. Regardless of type, compared to a swinging
door, they are definitely a physical security upgrade due to
their ability to significantly reduce the risk of infiltration.
Most important at this moment in time, optical turnstiles with
barriers, security revolving doors and mantrap portals are excellent
candidates for touchless entry. New integrations with facial recognition
technology, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), are enabling
authorization and entry for individuals based on biometric credentials
– without the need to touch a handle, button or access reader.
With this technology in place, a security entrance can authorize
an approaching individual from a few steps away and automatically
move the turnstile barriers or door wings to enable a
safe and healthy entrance to the facility.
ADDRESSING RISK IN A NEW WORLD
The meaning of the word “security” has irrevocably
changed in the past two decades. Organizations,
campuses and corporate stakeholders
are now at risk in ways that would have been
unimaginable even two years ago.
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Security Today.