Organizations must address growing security threats using fewer resources in an increasingly challenging regulatory environment. They are looking to ensure data security while also protecting their facilities’ physical security. At the same time, their users are demanding more choices of smart cards, smartphones, wearables, and other mobile devices that can do much more than simply open doors in an increasingly connected world.

Cobbling together disparate solutions creates vulnerability gaps and can be expensive and difficult to manage. For these and other reasons, many organizations are moving to align their physical and digital security initiatives, especially in today’s more connected world tied to the Internet of Things (IoT). They are adopting new ways of thinking about trust in smart environments and evolving how they use trusted identities across their operations. In the process, they are discovering better ways to establish, create, use and manage secure credentials using hybrid on-premises and cloud solutions both for access control and to tie people, assets and processes to the Internet of Trusted Things (IoTT).

Simpler And More Efficient Approaches

Cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Azure are already widely used for IT access management and there is now growing interest in harnessing the cloud to manage trusted identities used for physical access management as well. Today’s solutions span the full identity lifecycle, from badge printing or mobile credential issuance all the way through to the management and application of access rights.

These solutions tie everything
together and automate other
manual workflows to provide
an end-to-end physical identity
and access management solution

These integrated solutions will be joined by new cloud models for delivering network-based, service-focused badge printing and encoding that eliminates the need for stand-alone card printers attached to dedicated PC workstations and delivers the security of end-to-end encryption. Such solutions will transform the operational management of ID badge printing, reduce costs, eliminate capex outlay, simplify system maintenance and improve security as compared to on-premises solutions.

Reducing Vulnerabilities And Simplifying Compliance

In parallel with the move to the cloud, there is also a growing awareness of the interdependencies of technologies and platforms that are used to optimize business agility, manage costs and improve the user experience in today’s increasingly mobile environment, or to extend the reach, flexibility and security of digital commerce and relationship management. These interdependent technologies require an organization-wide approach to identity management that connects multiple platforms, systems and devices for multi-factor authentication. This approach increases security, reduces vulnerabilities and simplifies compliance.

To achieve this vision, unified identity cloud-based physical and IT access management solutions can create a far more seamless experience for users while simplifying procurement, deployment and maintenance. These solutions tie everything together and automate other manual workflows to provide an end-to-end physical identity and access management solution that integrates with access control systems, logical identity and other applications so organizations can manage all types of physical identities and their details.

Encompassing Identity Management Lifecycle

This approach incorporates trusted credential and other advanced security technologies and encompasses the entire identity management lifecycle. The result: organizations achieve a single, comprehensive security view and more coordinated way to protect privacy, while also lowering total cost of ownership, extending strong authentication from the desktop to the door and supporting a multitude of advanced use cases.

This unified approach is especially effective for government agencies and other regulated industries such as banking, healthcare, and transportation. It improves the organization’s overall security posture while consolidating physical and IT security into a single solution. The user experience is improved by having a single credential for opening doors and accessing IT systems, networks and data and the organization can more easily comply with federal security requirements while extending public key infrastructure (PKI) strong authentication throughout their operations.

Unified identity cloud-based physical and IT access management solutions can create a far more seamless experience for users


This unified approach also enables using strong cryptographic credentials in a range of additional applications, including digitally signing emails or documents, decrypting emails or files, full disk encryption and boot protection to secure laptops, among others. This approach also makes it easier to monitor and manage users’ access rights as their roles change within an organization, ensuring they only have access to what they need in a current role.

Incorporation Of Biometrics

In banking, unified platforms provide a holistic, mobile-relevant, multi-channel solution for managing customer identities across all channels, improving the user experience without increasing cost or complexity. The incorporation of biometrics further improves the user experience with higher levels of trust and makes it easier to combat fraud while complying with “know your customer” and other regulatory mandates.

Unified platforms for healthcare enable administrators to consolidate identity and access management across the continuum from hospital to home, simplifying operations ranging from opening hospital doors and accessing healthcare records to e-prescribing while simplifying compliance and improving how healthcare professionals interact with patients and log their activities. Institutions can leverage e-prescribing architectures for other valuable capabilities such as authenticating to VPNs and enabling remote access using credentials, key fobs, mobile smartphones and other smart devices and one-time password (OTP) tokens.

Path To Converged Solutions

The move to unified platforms offers new ways to establish, create, manage and use trusted identities and combine on-premises systems and the cloud to simplify identity and access management using common, flexible and adaptable platforms.

Organizations that adopt these platforms can more easily secure access to everything from the facility’s doors to its computers, data, applications, and cloud-based services and can also tie their smart buildings to the IoT. As they deploy these unified platforms, they will be embarking on a path to truly converged solutions that will ultimately consist of a single security policy, one credential and one audit log, delivered through a fully interoperable, multi-layered security infrastructure. Between now and then, they will be able to preserve their investments while continuing to grow, evolve and continually improve their security capabilities in the face of ever-changing threats.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Julian Lovelock Vice President, Strategic Innovation, HID Global

In case you missed it

Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security
Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorized users. The source of the unauthorized access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasizes the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defenses have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorized to connect to an organization's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorized devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organizations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organizations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.

What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?
What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?

The COVID-19 global pandemic had a life-changing impact on all of us in 2020, including a multi-faceted jolt on the physical security industry. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see more clearly the exact nature and extent of that impact. And it’s not over yet: The pandemic will continue to be top-of-mind in 2021. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What have been the positive and negative effects of Covid-19 on the physical security industry in 2020? What impact will it have on 2021?

Maximising Supermarket Safety With Real-time Surveillance Solutions
Maximising Supermarket Safety With Real-time Surveillance Solutions

Supermarket employees have been the hidden key workers of the past year, keeping shelves stocked and queues under control as panic buying gripped the nation. As a result of being expected to enforce face covering and social distancing regulations, they also been asked to act as de-facto security guards alongside their existing duties. This is problematic as many employees have never had to deal with this kind of responsibility before, let alone received any conflict de-escalation training. In order to maintain the safety and security of their staff retailers must take additional steps to uphold their duty of care, with the NPCC recently specifying that it is the responsibility of retailers ‘to manage entry to their stores and compliance with the law while customers are inside’. Supermarkets in particular need to be aware of this requirement, as the big four recently announced that their employees would now be challenging customers shopping in groups and those not wearing masks. Verbal abuse from the public Crime against retail employees has already been a major issue over the course of the pandemic, confirmed by research from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers that found 90% of retail staff in the UK experienced verbal abuse last year. The Co-op has recently been vocal about the effects of the pandemic and lockdown-related frustrations on its employees.90% of retail staff in the UK experienced verbal abuse last year The supermarket reported a 140% increase in crime within its stores over the past year, with many of the 200,000 cases related to verbal and physical abuse experienced by employees. Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food chief executive, confirmed that the number of issues has already increased drastically as a result of staff enforcing COVID-secure guidelines. So, what steps must retailers take to ensure their duty of care remains intact as employees take on new enforcement responsibilities? Introducing real-time surveillance technology to support security guards and shop floor employees alike is vital. Bolstering front line defences Security guards posted at supermarket entrances are the first line of defense against shoppers determined to break the rules. However, they are now being pulled in multiple directions with queues to monitor and occupancy to manually keep track of, along with the usual security alarms to respond to. With one person usually posted at the entrance at any one time it’s simply impossible to have eyes everywhere, which is where automated video surveillance comes in. COVID-specific technologies, such as mask detection and occupancy management systems, are now the golden bullet to retail safety and security.Mask detection and occupancy management surveillance tools can automatically alert a shopper Mask detection and occupancy management surveillance tools can automatically alert a shopper whether or not they are allowed to enter the store on their approach to the door. The system surveys the person and a screen will automatically display different instructions depending on the situation: whether they must put a mask on before they enter, wait until capacity is low enough to enable social distancing or, if the previous criteria are fulfilled, that they are free to enter. COVID-secure safety This stand-off technology minimizes the need for contact between security personnel and shoppers, allowing security guards to complete their usual duties, safe in the knowledge that the store is being managed in a COVID-secure way. With a hands-off approach enabled by surveillance technology, the potential for tense confrontation is greatly diminished as customers will usually comply to the reminder shown to them and put on a mask or wait without further prompting from staff. With security personnel able to better focus their attention on the stubborn rule-breakers,It is crucial that retailers choose a solution embedded in real-time connectivity this responsibility will no longer land with staff on the shop floor who are often ill-equipped to deal with this situation. It is crucial that retailers choose a solution embedded in real-time connectivity that will allow all store entrances to be screened simultaneously. Nobody can be in multiple places at once, but this connectivity allows alerts to be streamed instantly to any connected device that can be monitored by just one employee, meaning they can review the alerts that require their attention without needing to be physically present or re-tasked away from their day-to-day duties. Instant reassurance with body worn tech As a customer-facing role, there can be no guarantee that shop workers will never experience a potentially violent confrontation with a customer, which is where the presence of live streaming body worn cameras can help. While they may not always be trained to de-escalate a risky situation, being able to discreetly call for assistance can provide the reassurance employees need to feel safe and supported at all times. If an employee asks a customer to put a mask on while they’re in the store or step back from another shopper and the situation turns abusive – verbally or physically – a live streaming-enabled body worn camera can be triggered to stream a live audio and video feed back to a central control room manned by trained security personnel.A live streaming-enabled body worn camera can be triggered This real-time footage gives security staff exceptional situational awareness, allowing them to fully assess the situation and decide on the best course of action to support the employee in distress, whether that is going to the scene to diffuse the situation or contacting the police in more serious circumstances. Bolstering front line security This goes one step further than record-only body worn cameras, the capabilities of which these next generation devices match and exceed. Record-only cameras are well-suited to provide after-the-fact evidence if a customer interaction turns sour, but they do little to provide reassurance to out of depth employees in the moment. The duty of care grocery retailers must provide to their employees has never been more important, with staff taking on new mask and social distancing enforcement responsibilities and managing interactions with frustrated customers. Bolstering front line security and giving staff extra reassurances with the introduction of real-time video surveillance technology is a crucial step for retailers striving to keep employees and shoppers safe during these challenging times.