Part 2 of our Security in Healthcare series

IP-based physical access control systems are easier to operate, expand and integrate with other solutions
Users need to be able to upgrade in a way that fits with both their security
needs and their budgetary limitations

The future is digital, and analog systems are a thing of the past – or are they?

The fact is, in the healthcare vertical at least, we may still have a way to go before the full potential of IP-based systems is realized. Obstacles include a lack of funding and the challenge of sharing IP bandwidth with other healthcare technologies.

Bandwidth Competition

While many hospitals have invested significantly in IP systems, one challenge is bandwidth: Security and video systems often have to compete for bandwidth with other now-IT-driven systems in healthcare facilities, such medical records systems, x-ray systems and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems. Security departments may not be the highest priority when allotting bandwidth, given they are competing with medical devices and systems that generate revenue.

As a video company that serves the healthcare vertical, Pelco by Schneider Electric sees progress on the transition from analog to IP video surveillance devices, but there are still a large number of healthcare facilities that do not have the necessary funds to convert completely to an IP-heavy infrastructure. A big advantage of these facilities making the transition to IP is that users can access real-time video at any time from any computer, anywhere, says Kyle Cusson, Business Development Manager, Healthcare, Pelco.

“This is immensely important for information security requirements and disaster recovery,” he says. With analog, the information gathered is physically tethered to the camera and DVR. However, there are hybrid solutions – such as encoders that convert analog to IP – that exist and allow facilities to capitalize on existing investments for the time being.

IP To Gain Ground Soon

“Over the next five years, we will definitely see a massive shift to IP solutions because they are becoming more cost-effective to deploy and are delivering superior video quality and flexibility to users,” says Cusson. 

The transition isn’t always all-or-nothing. It is not uncommon for healthcare providers to depend upon outdated, analog-based video systems with limited capabilities while providing surveillance of a large facility, says Jeff Whitney, Arecont Vision’s Vice President of Marketing. “The transition happens after a major incident or awareness of new risks and challenges that the existing systems cannot address,” he adds. “That’s when surveillance technology is often moved from inadequate analog systems to IP megapixel surveillance cameras.”

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have found the idea of an IP transition both cost-prohibitive and difficult to deploy
A big advantage of healthcare facilities making the transition to IP is easy access of
real-time video any time from any computer

Arecont Vision SurroundVideo

Arecont Vision, a provider of video to the healthcare market, delivers megapixel surveillance cameras that reduce the cost of surveillance while increasing video coverage, improving aesthetics, and delivering high-definition (HD) video.

Customers are able to continue to get value from their existing analog systems in some cases, while supplementing them with modern digital network-based video surveillance systems until existing systems reach their end of life, Whitney says. The network-based system can then replace the legacy analog system fully. Whitney notes that Arecont Vision’s SurroundVideo multi-sensor megapixel cameras replace multiple PTZs and fixed cameras while providing improved video coverage at a lower cost, and the system is less intrusive than the analog systems they replace. “In new projects, most customers already have chosen to deploy IP network surveillance camera technology and gain all of the benefits and improved security immediately,” says Whitney.

Cost-To-Benefit Analysis

 “We have seen the transition from analog to IP become most complete in regards to display, with digital monitors almost completely replacing analog monitors,” says Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional President, Americas, Oncam, which provides a broad range of 360-degree fisheye cameras and integration software to the healthcare vertical. “That’s where it really ends.”

He says many hospitals and healthcare facilities have found the idea of an IP transition both cost-prohibitive and difficult to deploy. There has been some investment in relatively inexpensive decoders, which convert analog to IP.

“Cost is definitely a factor in the resistance we’re seeing in these facilities, but as the technology is developed further, that will help drive the cost down,” says Edulbehram.

New adoptions take time, and there will be a long period when different technologies co-exist, says Robert Laughlin, President, Galaxy Control Systems, which provides access control systems ranging from single-door systems up to multi-site enterprise-level integrated systems. For this reason, it will continue to be essential that new software and systems are backwards-compatible with the existing equipment in place within organizations. Users need to be able to upgrade in a way that fits with both their security needs and their budgetary limitations. Access control systems such as Galaxy’s will continue to be integrated with a range of systems, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to every access need, Laughlin says.

The transition happens after a major incident or awareness of new risks and challenges that the existing systems cannot address
New adoptions take time, and there will be a long period when different
technologies co-exist in the healthcare market

Networked Physical Access Control System

Many healthcare institutions also want a path to IP-based physical access control system (PACS) solutions that are easier to operate, and that simplify expansion, customization and integration with other solutions that can share the same network, says Sheila Loy, Director Healthcare Strategies, North America, HID Global, provider of comprehensive healthcare security solutions to create a safe, compliant environment for patients and employees.

Networked access control simplifies infrastructure enhancements and modifications because hardware platforms aren’t tied to proprietary software, she notes. It’s also easier to add wireless locksets that connect with the online access control system, thus reducing wiring costs and eliminating the problems of easy-to-lose keys while providing near-online and near-real-time control of the opening. IP-based solutions also provide a single, integrated system for combining security, access control, video surveillance and incident response, perimeter detection and alarm monitoring systems. Hospitals can invest in a single, unified IP network, and logically control multiple technologies that previously co-existed only on a physical level. Plus, they can leverage their existing credential investment to seamlessly add logical access control for network log-on, and achieve a full interoperable, multi-layered security solution across company networks, systems and facilities.

Analog Or IP Debate – A Thing Of The Past?

"We will not only continue to see
more security devices on the
network, but we will also start to
see more cutting-edge medical
technology and equipment that
is network-capable"

Other manufacturers see analog in the healthcare vertical as largely a thing of the past. Camera technology has advanced so far and so fast that the analog or IP debate is really a thing of the past, says Dave Ella, AMAG Technology’s Vice President of Product Marketing. “The question now is how quickly budgets will allow for the transition to newer technology,” Ella says. Hospitals benefit from higher resolutions (available with IP cameras), which can identify individuals and license plate numbers. Almost all AMAG healthcare customers are integrating their video to their access control system, which vastly speeds up response to security incidents as they unfold.

Brandon Reich, Senior Director of Surveillance Solutions, Pivot3, agrees. Today, virtually all new installations are IP, he says. There are a number of organizations that still deploy analog into large installed bases, though most have converted to IP by this point. In some cases, the rise of HD analog video has extended the usable life of installed analog systems, but by 2020, Reich expects the market to be vast majority IP. Pivot3 hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solutions for video surveillance provide a high level of protection against liabilities related to lost video.

The Future Belongs To Network-Capable Medical Technology

In the security industry, we have seen the transition from analog to IP systems take place over the course of several years, and it is debatable whether or not that transition is complete,” says Steve Birkmeier, VP of Sales and Business Development, Arteco. “Similarly, within the next few years, we will not only continue to see more security devices on the network, but we will also start to see more cutting-edge medical technology and equipment that is network-capable.”

Securing The Security Devices

Birkmeier says this is a burgeoning topic of discussion within the larger conversation about where the internet of Things (IoT) is leading us. However, it also leads to some interesting questions, such as: How will we secure these “wired” devices through the network? Will new compliance standards or regulations have to be put in place? What kind of failover strategy or reliability factors can these life-saving devices guarantee for vulnerable patients if the network goes down?

“Taking all these questions into consideration, it is imperative that we continue to invest in IT-centric access control solutions and open up integration opportunities with these technologies to ensure the security of patients, corporate and patient data, hospital staff and equipment,” says Birkmeier. 

Read Part 3 of our Security in Healthcare series here

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

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SecurityInformed.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SecurityInformed's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

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.

Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More
Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More

Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.

Smart Offices: How Is Mobile ID Changing The Way We Access The Office?
Smart Offices: How Is Mobile ID Changing The Way We Access The Office?

If you’re a security or facilities manager, you may already be aware of the quiet revolution that’s taking place across businesses and organizations up and down the country. By the end of 2020, 20% of all ID and access control systems featured mobile capability, and this is set to increase by a further 34% over the next three years. There’s no doubt that using a smartphone or mobile device in place of traditional credential and access control is a growing trend that’s only been sped up by the pandemic. It’s true that many businesses are still very much focused on remote working, although many are now starting to implement new-and-improved strategies that are better suited to protect the workforce moving forward. Mobile ID systems As the next normal becomes clearer, businesses will be reviewing procedures such as access control, occupancy monitoring, reducing touch points, and tracking visitors. Mobile ID systems are ideally suited to this task. But what are the key reasons for considering such a setup in 2021? But why is this new technology so well-suited to future-proof your physical access system, and why is it becoming so popular? Eradicating outdated legacy credentials Have you seen just how vulnerable outdated Proximity card technology can be? Low-frequency 125kHz cards can be cloned in a matter of seconds with the use of cheap, readily available tools. Despite their weaknesses, they are still used by a huge majority of businesses – big and small. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential Replacing such a system with a mobile-enabled system is one of the best ways to increase security ten-fold. Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, mobile ID offers best-in-class security and cryptography. All smartphones include two industry-standard features that make them perfect for operating a secure, contactless credential. Bluetooth Smart and NFC (Near Field Communication) make them the best product to operate such a credential via a secure app. If you’re looking for best-in-class security in 2021, mobile access is most definitely the way forward. Removing touch points across the business Reducing touch points and the adoption of touchless facilities has become a key priority for businesses in the wake of COVID-19. Even as businesses start to return to the office and operate a home/office split, it will be imperative that unnecessary contact is kept to an absolute minimum between staff. The traditional issuance of identification and access control credentials can pose problems in this regard. Facility and security managers who are responsible for onboarding and processing ID have done the process face to face. Mobile access makes it possible to carry this process out without people coming into direct content. First, the security manager has access to a secure portal, allowing them to create, manage and edit credentials anywhere. They can upload and remotely transfer mobile ID and access control credentials directly to users’ smartphones over the air. Via the secure app, users can view and see their credentials and immediately begin using it for ID and access control by simply placing their smartphone over card readers. Enabling a more flexible way of working The way in which we work has changed for good. Even as people more people return to the office in 2021, a majority of businesses will be operating a home/office split indefinitely. This once again reinforces the need for a smarter, more adaptable onboarding system. Implementing mobile ID is the perfect way of doing this: over-the-air delivery of credentials and security data is now a given, helping businesses create the perfect balance between the home and the office. No longer do people have to come into the office for the onboarding process. Increasing convenience and user experience More often businesses are realising the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security Ok, so mobile ID is the perfect way of increasing security and adapting workplaces to a post-COVID way of working. And we’ve not even touched on the most obvious advantage yet: Convenience. How many times have you forgotten your ID card? We’re sure it’s more times than you forget your smartphone. These powerful processors have become intertwined with the way we carry out tasks on a daily basis. They’re so vital that people will soon notice if they’ve forgotten it. From an employee’s perspective, mobile ID and access control is simple, convenient, and extremely user-friendly. More and more businesses are realizing the value mobile ID can have for enhancing the work experience as well as security. From the employer’s perspective, mobile ID means it’s easier for administrators to manage access and credentials. Future-proofing access control now will ensure that in the longer term, mobile ID is well worth the investment. The annual expenditure of printing ID cards and purchasing credentials can be vast, while reissuance costs can also quickly add up for larger organizations. These issues are a thing of the past for businesses using mobile ID. Mobile ID perfect tool for 2021 and beyond Until mobile ID, new and improved credentials’ main focus was on increasing security. Mobile ID not only delivers that, but it also provides a more convenient way of accessing the office in a way that’s perfectly suited to returning to the office in 2021. If there was ever a time to upgrade, now is the time. Summing up, mobile access is changing the way we access the office by: Eliminating weak links in security systems such as outdated legacy card technologies Eradicating the need for touch points across multiple areas of the workplace Enabling a smarter, more flexible approach to onboarding Increasing convenience – for both employers and employees.