Acadian Monitoring

STST has partnered with Acadian for their industry leading monitoring services since our beginning. Having a reliable monitoring service is critical in making the most of a camera intensive installation; without someone watching out for activity on your video feeds, the usefulness of the system is diminished. Acadian monitors several analytics from different video manufacturers. They also monitor motion-based triggers in cases where the camera is focused on a limited area with an analytics box drawn around the area of interest. 90 percent of what they monitor are external cameras using video analytics.
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Traditional analytics are triggered using something called pixel modification formulas, while newer systems are starting to make use of machine learning driven formulas. In video analytics, most companies will make use of basically the same set of rules for triggering events and avoiding false alarms, even if they give them different names and trademarks for branding purposes. Below we will take a look at these rule sets.
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Person and Vehicle Detection
This rule is used to alert on a person or vehicle when they have entered a zone specified to disallow their presence. This is the most common rule. Adjustments can be made for area size and time limits for the presence of the person or vehicle.
Group Gathering
As the name implies, this rule alerts the monitoring center when a group of people above a certain number have gathered in the specified area. This rule is often applied in high activity residential areas and in low income housing projects.
Loitering
The typical amount of time set for event generation in the case of loitering is 30 seconds. Often employed by businesses with sidewalks facing their front, this analytic is able to limit false alarms from innocent people walking by but is still capable of triggering an event in the case of a breaking and entering attempt. This rule is not recommended if the front facing doors are glass.
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Acadian also monitors thermal cameras. Thermal imaging is recommended in environments with low lighting or foliage that obscures a normal camera’s view.
Moving into the next decade, analytics will continue to be a critical part of the security and access control environment. Should machine learning advance as many project, these algorithms should be expected to become increasingly more robust and powerful, leading to the near elimination of false alarms and an almost human presence for all cameras and access control devices with analytics enabled. The total effects of machine learning are still somewhat speculative, but assuming any growth in the field, the possibilities may even exceed our current imagination.

 

STST Inc. is South Texas’ source for professionally designed and integrated security and access control systems.

To set up an appointment to get a quote on your project,

Call us at 210-446-6306  

or send an email through our website at

Protection and Integration of Legacy Access Control Systems

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When you install the infrastructure to support an enterprise grade access control system, the expectation is that it will last and be operable for a long time. Over time, physical access control has merged increasingly with networking services, which leads these systems to be vulnerable to threats associated with always-on network connections that they did not have to contend with in the past. This leaves us entering the 2020’s with many legacy systems having multiple exposed attack surfaces and new potential risks as IoT integration moves forwards and clients expect full availability and connectivity on their smart devices.
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One method which we have placed great emphasis on is Avigilon’s “Blue” Platform, a nearly “Plug-and-Play” device that allows takeover and integration of IP devices into older systems while still maintaining the integrity and operation of the existing infrastructure. The specifics of “Blue” have been discussed in depth in previous articles.
It is critical that integrators installing upgrades to existing access control systems ensure that all software and drivers are up to date so that exploits are covered. The more IP devices, the more potential points of attack exist to disable physical infrastructure for access control systems, and this is why it is so important that the client make sure to keep up with manufacturer patches and updates as soon as they are released, as attackers will be aware of exploits, in many cases, before patches come out as a solution.
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Another solution STST offers is Frontsteps access control technology. A key aspect of Frontsteps solution is “Mobile Patrol”. The fully mobile application allows security admins instant access “to patrol status updates and critical information, like incident reports and messaging.” (Frontsteps.com) Guards can give live updates in just seconds and share information for different checkpoints along a given patrol route. GPS GeoTagging assists in this process. This vastly improves the productivity and accountability of security staff as they must check in to their patrol checkpoints.
Security Technology of South Texas is happy to offer custom access control and surveillance solutions to the business security market, designed either turn-key and from the ground up, or integrated into an already existing series of cameras and access control structures.
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Please contact us through email at admin@gostst.com
or by phone at 210-446-4863 24/7 to schedule a consultation.

Security Moves Further into the Cloud

It is certainly no secret that cybersecurity is ever increasingly a focal point for security professionals. It is now no longer on the periphery and is of serious concern in the video surveillance market. Because of this blurring of the lines between hardware and the digital realm (cloud), a competent security integrator needs to have a team that understands the interplay between the two and can make the best design decisions possible.

Hackers have known for quite some time that video surveillance cameras are some of the easiest to breach pieces of internet connected tech out there. Indeed, there are entire websites devoted to indexing the IPs of unsecured cameras and access control systems around the world. People are going online, without any technical skill, and doing things like turning the lights on and off in stadiums and spying on people though the camera they have placed in their living room.

But many security integrators and dealers lag behind in this area. Although manufactures can be relied on to a point, having at least one member of the team with the know-how to encrypt drives and understand authentication applications is a must. For example, two-factor authentication, now coming standard on some servers, uses “two PIN codes added to [a] Windows Server login — one as a primary password, the other a randomized PIN generated by [a] paired smartphone app, giving integrators an added layer of security”. ( www.sdmmag.com )

Being able to link a system to a two-step authentication through a specific cell number is a pretty strong defense against hackers, who traditionally access these systems through manufacturer back doors, “zero-day” exploits, or simply by using “packet sniffing” programs to watch your traffic and pull the IP and MAC address on your devices.

Over the last decade, cloud computing and storage has rapidly changed the way businesses of all kinds operate. Modern enterprises that wish to stay competitive turn increasingly to a hybrid IT environment which allows them to leverage advantages of cloud based solutions alongside having whatever physical hardware that they maintain on-site. Cloud infrastructure is highly scalable, but on-site systems may be more directly controllable or may feature proprietary/in-house software. The promise of reducing operating costs and gaining a competitive advantage is attractive to any company, but in order to pull it off, specific security challenges must be overcome or accounted for.

Hybridizing an already complicated IT environment can have the effect of rapidly increasingly the complexity of systems. Depending upon which services are owned and managed by that business and which are provided via “Cloud Service Providers” or CSP, the enterprise must regulate and integrate multiple applications and systems, a process which may require multiple different skill sets. This all creates a lot of moving pieces which can make it difficult to maintain visibility for all the existing data.

Data breaches at the highest levels make headlines on the daily and have done so for the last several years. Major compromises include Sony with a possible hack coming from North Korea, Verizon, where as many as 14 million customers records were exposed due to server mismanagement, as well as Equifax and many others losing critical information such as customer’s bank information and social security numbers.

Securing all this data is a complicated task, but probably the most common mistake requires no special skills to address. Overlooking the basic integrated security controls is surprisingly common and a simple misconfiguration at this level can compromise an entire operation and leave its data completely exposed and liable to experience theft and/or unwanted modification or hacking. As we all know, something as small as this can expose customers, employees, and the critically important private data of companies to calamitous outcomes. Following are some key considerations in avoiding cloud misconfigurations and steps to keep safe a typical hybridized IT environment.

Studies (Redlock) have shown over half, in this case 53% of companies using cloud storage will admit to accidentally exposing customer data due to mismanagement or deliberately circumventing certain built in security features. Hackers know this, and as more and more organizations make the move to the cloud, attackers will increasingly pursue this “low hanging fruit” of security risks. Security misconfigurations are among the most common ways attackers gain control and leverage withing a network. Because those creating services such as Amazon S3 cloud storage seek to make their interfaces as flexible as possible, this sometimes has the inadvertent effect of exposing cloud environments and contained data (aka “buckets”). These buckets can be accessed simply through a URL so long as the user has the appropriate permissions.

Misconfigurations can occur at any level of your applications stack- “the platform, web server, database, framework” (Security Today Magazine) or in the custom code itself. Also common is for attackers to target and take advantage of any poorly configured devices that may be connected to the network. Use of default passwords and/or otherwise not configuring devices accessing the Wi-Fi can lead to an attacker exploiting a system which will allow them to immediately begin making changes and exfiltrating data.

The reality is that most of these problems come down to human error and ignorance. A common misconception is that the providers of these cloud solutions provide security themselves. This is simply not true. It is always up to you to check what security they do provide and to account for that when you implement your own security. Very rarely or never will the defaults of the cloud service be sufficient. And so regardless of however network environments evolve, the “foundational tenets” will remain. “Maintain visibility of your attack surface and continue to monitor it” at all levels. (Security Today Magazine) Apply security protocols to the cloud environment in the same manner you would do for your traditional environment. And of course, make sure to secure all the loose ends and back-doors, ensuring proper configuration throughout your network.

The prevailing opinion online seems to be that those dealers/integrators who do not keep up with this virtual counterpart to the physical systems they install will risk putting in systems that could be compromised and even lost to hackers. As the IoT expands and proliferates there will be many more individual possible weak points to conduct a security breach against in a network. STST makes use of a wide array of IoT-like devices already, as do many other companies and industries. Mobile connections can be used as backups for hard-wired connections in security solutions but are more critical when a system needs to include 24/7 personal video and control access to a user or users wherever they are. The security industry in general is likely to become increasingly centered around the usefulness and convenience of mobile communication tech, as many of us certainly seem to be already with our personal and social lives.

Security Technology of South Texas is happy to offer custom access control and surveillance solutions with video analytics to the greater South Texas area, designed either turn-key and from the ground up, or integrated into an already existing series of cameras.

Please contact us through email at admin@gostst.com on our website or via phone at

210-446-4863 24/7 to schedule a consultation.

Access Management: Layer 1

Security industry professionals seem to hold differing opinions on whether video surveillance or access control is the predominant platform when implementing an integrated security solution. The truth is that access control systems are more prevalent in terms of the sheer number of systems deployed, the size and scale of deployments and actual daily engagement by users. The reason being that when a potentially threatening event unfolds, an access control system can instantly shut down a facility, or specific areas within it, potentially saving lives.

There is no doubt that access control technology is progressing and evolving at the fastest pace ever in the security industry.  And the need for enhanced security due to new sources of threats, increased liability and even mandated compliance has made more funds available to public and private entities to enhance security. As a result, more and more money has been allocated in recent years to help keep unwanted people from entering facilities.

 

Access Control: The Foundation of Security

Access control solutions provide the basis for layered security solutions that do far more than simply allow electronic access using credentials.  They provide complete record of who has entered a facility, which areas within the facility they accessed (or attempted to access) and how long they stayed. In most systems, electronic door locks are connected to a centralized access control system allowing them to be remotely monitored and locked in the event of an emergency or incident. Assigning different access permissions for employees, visitors and first responders provides even greater levels of protection and tracking. Entry control points can be easily established to only allow authorized individuals initial access to a facility or specific areas within the facility.

Access control solutions allow authorized individuals to manage doors and alarm points, and can easily be integrated with visitor management solutions to check the background of each visitor, automatically post watch lists and provide specific access privileges based on time, date and location.

Even more, new input/output (I/O) boards for access control systems can expand functionality and provide real-time operations for speed, performance and reliability.  Using the same footprint, I/O expansion boards will work with alarm monitoring, alarm annunciation, building management, interfacing to burglar and fire panels and numerous other applications to ensure security. Additional safeguards to control entry points may include the integration of turnstiles or security entrances, mantraps, video surveillance with analytics, wireless locks, intercoms and intrusion detection devices, among others.

 

Integrating Emergency Notification and Communications with Access Control

When an emergency situation arises due to a tripped alarm, a watch list match or severe weather alert, system-wide communication is essential in facilities with large numbers of occupants. Additional information such as room condition and the status of its occupants helps quickly evaluate a situation and determine the most appropriate response to initiate including the need to lockdown all entry points, seek shelter-in-place or evacuate. The real-time situational awareness provided through an integrated emergency notification and communications solution is proven to provide better levels of protection and improve overall physical security.

For example, a layered security system comprised of integrated access control and emergency notification and communication solutions allows occupants to report on immediate conditions to identify the threat level in their specific locations, and trigger a physical lockdown in the affected areas or throughout the facility.  Security management can then issue an alert to notify responders of conditions in real time while communicating status based on the level of the alert.

Conversely, occupants within the facility can report status at their specific location enabling security management and first responders to gain an accurate assessment of the threat. Employing a chat feature also enables two-way communications between facility occupants and security management and first responders to exchange detailed information. This enables potentially lifesaving instructions to be sent to specific locations within the facility to evacuate or seek shelter in place depending on the immediate status and proximity of the potential threat.

In emergency situations, integrated access control and emergency notification and communication solutions deliver the ability to quickly secure a facility and implement the appropriate responses – with or without the added data provided from video surveillance. That said, the best approach to implementing a layered security solution should always start with access control at the foundation.

Call at 210-446-6306  or send an email through our website at