Remote systems access to become the future of security service calls

By Dominic Burns, A.C. Technical Systems Ltd.

What will service calls look like for security systems integrators and their customers in the post COVID-19 world? Here is a glimpse into the future: As integrators and end users alike look to mitigate risk, many will turn to remote system connectivity to troubleshoot issues with IP cameras and access control systems in order to reduce the need to physically enter a customer’s building.

Remote system access is not a new concept – it has been around since the 1950s when modems were first invented – yet it is a relatively new capability in the security world with the introduction of IP-based cameras nearly 25 years ago. Today, an estimated 32 percent of end users choose systems that can be remotely accessed for troubleshooting and remotely addressing system problems, yet only a small percentage enable this capability.

An estimated 68 percent of all service calls are network or end-user related, indicating that many problems can be solved without an integrator having to visit the customer’s property as long as the customer enables remote access functionality.

With remote system access, integrators can check if an IP switch is online or if there has been a change to the IP address for a camera – both of which are critical to ensure an IP camera is communicating properly on the network. Remote connectivity also allows systems integrators to power cycle a camera without having to be physically present. This is the same process followed by cable television companies as they troubleshoot an issue with a customer’s cable television box.
Customers benefit with shorter wait times for service when compared with a security integrator having to roll a truck to address the problem in person. Also, the cost associated with remotely trouble shooting and solving a problem can be significantly less than requiring a technician to travel to a customer site.
One of the biggest challenges with remote system access is the approval of the corporate IT department, who often worry that granting remote access privileges will create the perfect gateway for a hacker to enter the network.

Today there are several tools integrators that can utilize to remotely access a system. Starting with basic remote access application such as TeamViewer. TeamViewer is an application that allows the end user to directly initiate a remote session to their computer and allows the integrator to review in real time the issue a client is experiencing. The Integrators can now troubleshoot and fix the issue immediately or assess which parts are required to take to a site, if a site visit is required. During the remote session, the client can monitor integrator actions and interact, if needed. Once a remote troubleshooting session is completed, the client can then terminate that remote session.

Another option, which is highly recommended, is a virtual private network (VPN) which uses remote tools to provide a secure, encrypted tunnel to transmit data between a remote user connection and the company network. This works in conjunction with an added dual factor authentication process or a one-time password (OTP), which provides a rolling security code that must be entered into the authentication process in order to gain access to the company’s network. This number changes with each access session, thereby minimizing security risks.

As companies continue to navigate the ever-changing business landscape, end users should expect more integrators will require customers to provide remote system access. This capability will prove to be a vital tool to troubleshoot and address IP-based security service calls today and into the future.

Why facility executives need to learn about anti-drone technology

By Del Deason, Vision Security Technologies

With the use of aerial drones becoming a regular occurrence, facility executives and security professionals alike need to educate themselves on not just the benefits of drone technology, but also the risks and the appropriate steps to take to guard against an unwanted drone entering the airspace of their facility or venue.

Airports, universities, large public open-air venues and critical infrastructure facilities are amongst a group of facility-types that recognize the potential security risk associated with an aerial drone flying above. Because of this, facility executives are beginning to work closely with their systems integrator partner to test and deploy anti-drone technology that can detect an aerial drone and, in turn, help to identify the drone operator.

Anti-drone radar technology, for example, can be deployed to detect and identify objects that have the signature of a drone. These radar systems look for certain markers that would classify an object as a drone, such as its size and the way it is behaving.

Once the radar system identifies an object as a drone, that should trigger a secondary step of visual verification. Verification can be accomplished by using the human eye or a surveillance camera to confirm that an object is in fact a drone.

Next, end users should consider investing in additional drone technology that can identify the radio frequency signature of the drone, coupled with GPS technology to identify the location of the drone operator. Once a drone is confirmed to be in airspace that is of concern and GPS technology helps to identify the location of the operator, end users should contact the appropriate law enforcement agency to locate the individual operating the drone.

Even though several companies have introduced anti-drone technology that can shoot down or capture a drone, these actions may be illegal unless you are a government entity or the drone is flying over a government installation. It’s also illegal to tamper with the radio frequency of a drone in an attempt to disable the device or change its flight path.

Regardless of the type of anti-drone technology deployed, it’s important to take a multi-layered approach to drone detection to ensure accurate identification. And, as more security end users deploy programs to test anti-drone technology, there is a heightened awareness about the number of drones currently being used during large sporting events or other large public gatherings.

The introduction of military-grade drone technology to the mainstream market has opened the door of possibilities as to how this solution can be leveraged as part of a security program. However, it’s just as important to understand how to guard against an unwanted drone visit.

Protecting your Empty Facility

By John Krumme, CPP, Cam-Dex Security Corp.

These are unprecedented times globally, as businesses transition as many employees as possible to work from home in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result of this shift, many once bustling facilities – schools, corporate offices and places of worship – are now seeing limited visitors, if any at all.

Even though many facilities are now nearly empty or in limited use, security remains a top priority to protect assets and those employees who may need to venture in from time to time to retrieve important files. With this in mind, if your frequency of visitors has significantly changed, you should also review your security system to ensure a few measures are in place.

Revoking access privileges of employees may be a little extreme, in order to keep them from entering a facility once business operations move to remote operations. However, if your building has multiple unlock schedules on its doors to enable employees or customers to enter at a set time in the morning, it’s time to review that schedule and make the necessary adjustments to ensure the building remains secure at all times.

Many places of worship, for example, have moved away from being open 24/7 and have implemented an access control system that will automatically unlock the doors before Sunday worship, or before committee meetings during the week. These facilities can have a dozen or more automatic unlock schedules as part of its access control system. The same can be said for buildings on a college or corporate campus, for example.

The majority of surveillance systems installed today provide the ability to remotely review video footage – keeping tabs on employees, customers and deliveries. However, now is an ideal time to review whether your facility is taking full advantage of the remote monitoring capabilities your surveillance system has to offer.

If you have not done so yet, look into how you can remotely access your surveillance system, either through a mobile app or desktop option. Many manufacturers offer this capability as part of the system, or for a small monthly fee.

Being able to access your surveillance system remotely will enable you to periodically check your parking lot for vehicles left behind for a long period of times. If you receive an alert that someone has entered the building through the access control system, remote surveillance will also enable you to view the interior of the building to see if the person coming in is an employee to retrieve files, a cleaning person, or someone who is not authorized to enter at a specific time.

Security remains a top priority, even when a facility is empty. Investing time today to review the systems you have in place, adjust unlock schedules, and leverage remote surveillance capabilities, will help ensure your building remains secure and ready for occupancy in the near future.

How to Future Proof Your Security System

By J. Matthew Ladd, The Protection Bureau

Security is an important investment to protect not just employees who work in a building, but also anyone who may visit that specific facility. Regardless of the exact dollar amount spent, many end users have similar expectations – they want to make sure they can continue to leverage the benefits of their newly installed access control or surveillance system two, three and five years into the future.

However, with technology rapidly changing, what steps can an end user take to future proof their security system?

System Maintenance

Invest in regular system maintenance of both your access control and surveillance systems. Most manufactures have a publish update schedule on a quarterly basis or semi-annual basis. However, even though a manufacturer will issue software updates to either enhance a system or to fix a bug, never allow an update to be done to your system without first verifying the update with your systems integrator. It’s important to have a valid software agreement so you can be notified when there’s an update and when it’s completed.  You also want to make sure any software updates are proven to be stable.

Reputation and Capacity

When buying a new access control system, it’s important to review the technology being installed to determine whether it is reliable and from a reputable company. While installing cutting-edge technology from a start-up access control company may be exciting, the viability of that company in two or five years should be taken into consideration. Also, make sure that the system you are implementing can grow as your business grows. For access control systems, keep in mind the system’s reader capacity and card holder count.

Network Infrastructure 

Before beginning any installation project, make sure to review your network infrastructure. While your network might have an appropriate amount of bandwidth to handle a small load of surveillance cameras, what would happen if you needed to add five or even 10 high-definition cameras in the future? A common problem in the residential market today is that many homeowners are adding surveillance cameras to their networks, but their low-cost internet service cannot handle the data upload requirements for these cameras. The same can happen in the business world, where a network can quickly exceed capacity due to a lack of knowledge about its limitations.

By taking a few simple steps, in conjunction with working with your security systems integrator, corporate security directors can protect the investment they are making in their security system by ensuring it has the proper foundation to handle future needs.