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The ‘new normal’ was all we heard about when it came to the working model shift after the pandemic hit. Businesses worldwide adopted working from home, and then the hybrid model: a balance of remote work and office work. And according to a recent survey by 451 Research, nearly 80% of organizations surveyed said they have implemented or expanded universal work-from-home policies as a result of COVID-19, whilst 67% expect these policies to remain in place either permanently or for the long-term. With more vacant office spaces, the question is: is hybrid working a red flag for business security? Empty-Office days When buildings and office spaces are still active with advanced technology, equipment and assets on show, yet footfall is not as busy as it once was, opportunistic criminals are closely watching and taking note. But what are they learning? Security systems provider, Expert Security UK, investigates our new normal. Offices are nests for expensive, valuable equipment, with maybe the latest technology Instead of a packed, busy office five or six days a week, hybrid working means more empty-office days, which is music to the ears of burglars. Offices are nests for expensive, valuable equipment, with maybe the latest technology and safes sitting there, or potential stacks of cash or company cards. You may be thinking, well, who leaves company cards or cash out? You’d be surprised, especially when business owners think they’ll never be a victim, or sometimes, staff make mistakes. Hybrid working model And don’t forget, burglars don’t always know what’s been left and will take their chances. And when a hybrid working model is the ‘new normal’, that means a lapse in security - at least in a thief’s mind. So how worried should business owners be? Well, the latest figures are pretty worrying, but also, not massively shocking. Reiterating the temptation and lure the working model shift has on robbers, Statista recorded a 12-year high for robbery offenses in the UK in 2019/2020. When more businesses either shut up shop or sent staff away to home offices, it’s not hard to make a connection. These figures reflect how, when given the opportunity, thieves will strike and take advantage. Handing vital information Whether you’ve decided to go fully remote, it’s crucial to review and rethink your business security However, it’s worth noting that the lockdowns and empty streets would also have played a part in this spike, and now that we’re out of lockdowns with a world back to flipping its sign to ‘open’, many businesses will be carrying on working from home, but towns, shops, and streets are busy again. Whether you’ve decided to go fully remote, or have adopted the hybrid model, it’s crucial to review and rethink your business security, starting with your social media presence. It’s a good idea to review your social media channels. We forget how open we can be on social media, and how our digital presence can actually work as a perfect guide and insight for criminals. All they have to do is follow your channels to pick up on clues. And if you’re not giving it a minute’s thought about what you're putting out there, you may even be just handing them vital information and helping their plans. Remote working shift Of course, there is information readily available such as your opening times, location etc. But, do you really want/need to show off the new, state-of-the-art tablets you’ve just kitted your office out with? It can be hard as a business, or even as a social person, to not want to share positive news on social media, but we really do have to stop and think, especially if people know a lot about the company and its remote working shift. It’s also a good idea to have a meeting with your staff about a social media policy Maybe share a post about that new, intelligent security system you've installed instead. It’s also a good idea to have a meeting with your staff about a social media policy or maybe just a casual chat about best practices, e.g. not to tag the business in a post about their new office gadget etc. Improving business security With fewer office days, you probably won’t need to take up as much work space anymore. Maybe some equipment has become more ornamental. Anything you don’t use or need, you could sell or donate. If you do have expensive equipment lying around that’s not being used, try and make money back from it or store it elsewhere. If you are keeping a lot of expensive equipment in vacant premises, especially fixed equipment and technology, then consider installing bars and shutters over the windows. Whatever your budget, you can improve your business security tenfold with key security measures. One of them being access control. Security gates with access control are incredibly effective at stopping unauthorized people from gaining entry. There are also car park barriers and bollards that are highly effective at keeping any potential getaway vehicles out. easily portable technology High-quality CCTV is a best friend to any business, but you need to be reviewing it frequently High-quality CCTV is a best friend to any business, but you need to be reviewing it frequently, especially if you’ve done a perimeter check and noticed any signs of forced entry or damage. Don’t forget those signs either, let visitors or trespassers know they’re on camera. To fit in with the hybrid working model, static fixtures are becoming redundant. For instance, companies are switching to laptops instead of computers, so that workers can transport them easily to and from the office. This is not only more efficient and convenient, but it means assets are more guarded. It’s the same for any other gadgets. Having easily portable technology is good for business, hybrid working, and security. Don’t forget about your deterrents. Simple signs to warn people of alarms, CCTV, and even the fact that you don’t leave equipment inside overnight can go a long way. Best security technology Thieves are famous for taking their chances. Some will meticulously plan, and many strike at a convenient, opportune time. So having signs in place that show you have high-quality, intelligent security in place can work wonders, making them think twice. It’s also worth noting that you may not have the best security technology in place at the moment, but those on the outside don’t need to know that; they can be fooled. However, having the best physical security in place is vital, as criminals lurk and will take chances. Keep reviewing your security, especially as your business adapts and reshapes - whether you return back to full office days or carry on the hybrid working model. This guest post was contributed by Danny Scholfield, Managing Director of Expert Security UK.
Household adoption of smart home systems currently sits at 12.1% and is set to grow to 21.4% by 2025, expanding the market from US$ 78.3 billion to US$ 135 billion, in the same period. Although closely linked to the growth of connectivity technologies, including 5G, tech-savvy consumers are also recognizing the benefits of next-generation security systems, to protect and secure their domestic lives. Biometric technologies are already commonplace in our smartphones, PCs and payment cards, enhancing security without compromising convenience. Consequently, manufacturers and developers are taking note of biometric solutions, as a way of leveling-up their smart home solutions. Biometrics offer enhanced security As with any home, security starts at the front door and the first opportunity for biometrics to make a smart home genius lies within the smart lock. Why? Relying on inconvenient unsecure PINs and codes takes the ‘smart’ out of smart locks. As the number of connected systems in our homes increase, we cannot expect consumers to create, remember and use an ever-expanding list of unique passwords and PINs. Indeed, 60% of consumers feel they have too many to remember and the number can be as high as 85 for all personal and private accounts. Biometric solutions strengthen home access control Biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control Doing this risks consumers becoming apathetic with security, as 41% of consumers admit to re-using the same password or introducing simple minor variations, increasing the risk of hacks and breaches from weak or stolen passwords. Furthermore, continually updating and refreshing passwords, and PINs is unappealing and inconvenient. Consequently, biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control. Positives of on-device biometric storage Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint recognition uses personally identifiable information, which is stored securely on-device. By using on-device biometric storage, manufacturers are supporting the 38% of consumers, who are worried about privacy and biometrics, and potentially winning over the 17% of people, who don’t use smart home devices for this very reason. Compared to conventional security, such as passwords, PINs or even keys, which can be spoofed, stolen, forgotten or lost, biometrics is difficult to hack and near impossible to spoof. Consequently, homes secured with biometric smart locks are made safer in a significantly more seamless and convenient way for the user. Biometric smart locks Physical access in our domestic lives doesn’t end at the front door with smart locks. Biometrics has endless opportunities to ease our daily lives, replacing passwords and PINs in all devices. Biometric smart locks provide personalized access control to sensitive and hazardous areas, such as medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, safes, kitchen appliances and bike locks. They offer effective security with a touch or glance. Multi-tenanted sites, such as apartment blocks and student halls, can also become smarter and more secure. With hundreds of people occupying the same building, maintaining high levels of security is the responsibility for every individual occupant. Biometric smart locks limit entry to authorized tenants and eliminate the impact of lost or stolen keys, and passcodes. Furthermore, there’s no need for costly lock replacements and when people leave the building permanently, their data is easily removed from the device. Authorized building access Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door, but also throughout the entire building, such as washing rooms, mail rooms, bike rooms and community spaces, such as gyms. Different people might have different levels of access to these areas, depending on their contracts, creating an access control headache. But, by having biometric smart locks, security teams can ensure that only authorized people have access to the right combination of rooms and areas. Convenience of biometric access cards Additionally, if building owners have options, the biometric sensors can be integrated into the doors themselves, thereby allowing users to touch the sensor, to unlock the door and enter. Furthermore, the latest technology allows biometric access cards to be used. This embeds the sensor into a contactless keycard, allowing the user to place their thumb on the sensor and tap the card to unlock the door. This may be preferable in circumstances where contactless keycards are already in use and can be upgraded. Smarter and seamless security In tandem with the growth of the smart home ecosystem, biometrics has real potential to enhance our daily lives, by delivering smarter, seamless and more convenient security. Significant innovation has made biometrics access control faster, more accurate and secure. Furthermore, today’s sensors are durable and energy efficient. With the capacity for over 10 million touches and ultra-low power consumption, smart home system developers no longer have to worry about added power demands. As consumers continue to invest in their homes and explore new ways to secure and access them, biometrics offers a golden opportunity for market players, to differentiate and make smart homes even smarter.
Video surveillance systems are producing more unstructured data than ever before. A dramatic decrease in camera costs in recent years has led many businesses to invest in comprehensive surveillance coverage, with more cameras generating more data. Plus, advances in technology mean that the newest (8K) cameras are generating approximately 800% more data than their predecessors (standard definition). Traditional entry-level solutions like network video recorders (NVRs) simply aren’t built to handle massive amounts of data in an efficient, resilient and cost-effective manner. This has left many security pioneers grappling with a data storage conundrum. Should they continue adding more NVR boxes? Or is there another, better, route? Retaining video data In short, yes. To future proof their video surveillance infrastructure, an increasing number of businesses are adopting an end-to-end surveillance architecture with well-integrated, purpose-built platforms for handling video data through its lifecycle. This presents significant advantages in terms of security, compliance and scalability, as well as unlocking new possibilities for data enrichment. All of this with a lower total cost of ownership than traditional solutions. Security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks Previously, security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks. However, thanks to increasingly stringent legal and compliance demands, many are now required to retain video data for months or even years. There’s no doubt that this can potentially benefit investigations and increase prosecutions, but it also puts significant pressure on businesses’ storage infrastructure. Data lifecycle management This necessitates a more intelligent approach to data lifecycle management. Rather than simply storing video data in a single location until it’s wiped, an end-to-end video surveillance solution can intelligently migrate data to different storage platforms and media as it ages. So, how does this work? Video is recorded and analyzed on a combination of NVR, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and application servers. Then, it’s moved to resilient file storage for a pre-determined period, where it can be immediately retrieved and accessed for review. Finally, based on policies set by heads of security, data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage such as an object, tape or cloud. Data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage Long-Term storage This process is known as tiering. It allows businesses to use reliable, inexpensive long-term storage for most of their data, whilst still enabling security pioneers to retrieve video data when the need arises, such as during a compliance audit, or to review footage following a security breach. In a nutshell, it offers them the best of both worlds. Scaling your video surveillance infrastructure can be a headache. Businesses that rely on NVRs – even high-end units with 64 or even 96 hard drives – are finding themselves running out of capacity increasingly quickly. In order to scale, security pioneers then have to procure new boxes. With NVRs, this inevitably involves a degree of guesswork. Should they go for the largest possible option, and risk over provisioning? Or perhaps a smaller option, and risk running out of capacity again? Common management console Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together As businesses add new cameras or replace existing ones, many end up with inadequate surveillance infrastructure made up of multiple NVR boxes along with several application servers for running other surveillance functions such as access control, security photo databases, analytics, etc. This patchwork approach leaves security pioneers scrambling for capacity, maintaining various hardware footprints, repeating updates and checks across multiple systems, and taking up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere. By contrast, flexible HCI surveillance platforms aggregate the storage and ecosystem applications to run on the same infrastructure and combine viewing under a common management console, avoiding ‘swivel chair’ management workflows. Plus, they offer seamless scalability. Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together. Data storage solutions Over time, this ensures a lower total cost of ownership. First and foremost, it removes the risk of over provisioning and helps to control hardware sprawl. This in turn leads to hardware maintenance savings and lower power use. Many security pioneers are now looking beyond simple data storage solutions for their video surveillance footage. Meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed Instead, they’re asking themselves how analyzing this data can enable their teams to work faster, more efficiently and productively. Implementing an end-to-end video surveillance architecture enables users to take advantage of AI and machine learning applications which can tag and enrich video surveillance data. These have several key benefits. Firstly, meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed. Object storage platform For instance, if security teams are notified of a suspicious red truck, they can quickly find data with this tag, rather than manually searching through hours of data, which can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Plus, meta tags can be used to mark data for future analysis. This means that as algorithms are run over time, policies can be set to automatically store data in the right location. For example, if a video is determined to contain cars driving in and out of your premises, it would be moved to long-term archiving such as an object storage platform for compliance purposes. If, on the other hand, it contained 24 hours of an empty parking lot, it could be wiped. These same meta tags may be used to eventually expire the compliance data in the archive after it is no longer needed based on policy. Video surveillance architecture Continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses Even if your organization isn’t using machine learning or artificial intelligence-powered applications to enhance your data today, it probably will be one, three, or even five years down the line. Implementing a flexible end-to-end video surveillance solution prepares you for this possibility. With new advances in technology, the quantity of data captured by video surveillance systems will continue rising throughout the coming decade. As such, continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses. Looking forward, when moving to an end-to-end video surveillance architecture, security pioneers should make sure to evaluate options from different vendors. For true futureproofing, it’s a good idea to opt for a flexible, modular solution, which allow different elements to be upgraded to more advanced technologies when they become available.
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