IoT, cybersecurity and access control

Pia Hantoft

Right now, we are beginning the next phase of digital transformation in the security industry – the move to connect all physical security components to the Internet of Things (IoT). The advantages are twofold. First, having all the components in your system working in harmony maximizes their effectiveness. Next, all the individual hardware pieces in a system transmit data which, if handled correctly, can provide game-changing business intelligence.

Consider door stations, for example. This technology becomes so much more than just a video doorbell that controls access to a building. As part of an IoT system, network door stations can now become connected to an increasingly complex and high-value security network — simultaneously harvesting actionable business intelligence while sending data on to secure smartphones or servers.

Securing the devices that collect this data, and ensuring the data itself is secure, is the top priority. Not only are network and data breaches punished by severe reputational damage for the affected business, but each breach also hinders the IoT movement. This is because both corporations and the general public must have confidence that IoT technologies meet their expectations for safe, private and cybersecure daily operations. Data-protection directives, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), should be seen as an aid and not a hindrance.

Act fast or lose out

Remember Blockbuster, the leading video rental firm in the 2000s? This former $37 billion franchise-based company failed to recognize a paradigm shift in the market towards on-demand video, video streaming and downloads. Within a few short years, Blockbuster was dead in the water and soon found itself bankrupt and out of business. In times of widespread technological evolution, it is imperative that your business acts with agility in incorporating the right technologies that will enable it to thrive – both today and into the future.

To maximize competitive advantage, use a combination of the best technology on the market – even if it means choosing multiple suppliers. Standard and open protocols, which enable different pieces of equipment to easily communicate with one another are the best way of ensuring purchases made today will be compatible with those you’ll need to make in the future. It is also important that your security system is easy to use. The huge quantities of data coming in from different sources needs to be aggregated and presented to users in easily digestible formats. After all, human operators will need to interpret the data in making decisive, timely decisions. So IoT technologies and products that are easy-to-use, built on open protocols, based on global standards and meet high demands for cybersecurity incorporate key success qualities.

Using license plates as credentials

To see the benefits of the IoT and connected security systems, let’s examine how several technologies can work together over a network to securely control access to a car parking lot.

license_plate_recognition

  1. A car enters a camera’s vehicle detection zone
  2. This triggers software in the camera that checks the car’s license plate number
  3. The camera sends the number to the door controller at the gate
  4. The door controller checks against its database of approved license plate numbers and decides whether or not to grant access
  5. If the license plate is not approved for access, a network video door station can allow the driver to connect to an operator, who can then decide to grant access or not
  6. An administrator or user in the system can also send a QR code in advance to the driver, who could then just use this code as a credential in his phone to the video door station to be granted instant access
  7. Transaction data describing the event is logged and stored

This basic license plate as a credential system is comprised of five components, as mentioned above. These components all speak to each other using open protocols – standard, secure communication that allows the incorporation of different components from different manufacturers. This ensures businesses can choose the most suitable equipment for their individual needs.

Each of these components sends information to a computer program that makes relevant data easily accessible to a human operator. The information must be displayed as clear as possible, so the operator can quickly make informed decisions when needed. All data collected by this program is logged, so that a thorough analysis can take place. Over time, enough data will be generated to carry out a meaningful analysis.

Analysts will be able to identify trends in the data. For example, a failure to consistently identify license plates with high accuracy. With this knowledge, an engineer can investigate and fix the problem. For example, adjusting the direction a camera is pointing. This resolves the issue and streamlines the process – maximizing the benefits to the business through improved operational effectiveness and time reduced operational costs while providing positive user experiences.

This access control application also highlights the need to make cybersecurity practical. Each component in this system represents a potential gateway into it. If any component in the network  can be breached, sensitive information would be leaked – resulting in a very real penalty to your company. In this way, using license plates as credentials maximizes ease-of-use for all parties involved, it maintains secure operations and it keeps operational costs low.

The future is open for smarter businesses

Businesses that recognize the importance of building a deeply integrated network of IoT-connected access control devices will soon find themselves at an advantage. Centrally managed security systems will be the most efficient. Such systems will continue to prove their worth beyond just security.

Encouraging openness and partnerships between hardware, software and application technologies and products will deliver tangible benefits. Organizations such as ONVIF, which champions the cause of standardized network protocols, will nurture a new era of collaboration in the security industry. Combined with the prioritization of cybersecurity, this will form the basis for an ever-more-connected world.

With these foundations in place, access control networks will break down barriers between people and lead to a more connected society. Truly smart cities, making use of all the data made available by IoT access control and other devices, will create operational efficiencies on a global scale.

Let’s connect!

Explore our newly updated access control overview webpage. Or better still, use the comments section here to discuss IoT, cybersecurity and access control with me!