Alpro Hardware recently installed its "Swift" range of auto door operators on doors located at Reading FC. As part of the new Disability and Discrimination Act 2004, doors between the football stadium and hotel needed to be easily accessible by all. The Alpro "Swift" range fitted the bill.

Easy to install and aesthetically pleasing the Swift 02 operators allowed the doors to be automatically operated when approached from either side. The Swift solution to the problem was both cost effective and quick to install, thereby ensuring minimum disruption to both hotel and football personnel alike.

Keith Parry, Alpro's Product Manager said: "Here was a major football club newly promoted to the Premiership ensuring that their facilities are in line with current legislation and ensuring the sport can be enjoyed by all. By understanding what our customer requirements were, we were able to install cost effective solutions, which conform to current government legislation. Another example of Alpro working in partnership to solve even the most taxing access scenarios."

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Acquisition Of Vidsys Opens The Door To AI-Driven PSIM Platform
Acquisition Of Vidsys Opens The Door To AI-Driven PSIM Platform

Following its recent acquisition, Vidsys will continue to operate, now as an ‘An ARES Security Company’. The Vidsys brand is known worldwide for its PSIM (physical security information management) solution and the acquisition will accelerate the next generation of products that incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance their value to Vidsys clients and the overall market.  ARES Security Corporation has developed and deployed security and public safety software solutions for the past 20 years, solving complex physical security challenges. Their AVERT security software solution supports the full lifecycle of physical security operations: risk and technology assessment and design, training, and intelligent real-time incident response. AVERT security software AVERT security software helps clients by increasing security effectiveness and reducing cost AVERT security software helps clients by increasing security effectiveness and reducing cost. Clients are in many market segments including Corporate, Military, Government, Power, Data Centers, Transportation and Ports. Vidsys’ PSIM will immediately be improved by incorporating AVERT C2 (Command & Control), allowing clients access to expanded capabilities and an advanced technical roadmap. “Over time we will migrate the Vidsys technology to our state-of-the-art, multi-tenant SaaS architecture that includes secure, multi-site data sharing, an updated library of connectors, and integration to the AVERT digital twin, artificial intelligence/machine learning and automation capability,” said Ben Eazzetta, ARES Security Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Technical roadmap for upgrading to AI-PSIM platform “We are a client-centric company, and we will continue to support Vidsys clients,” stated Ben Eazzetta, adding “We will focus initial efforts towards closing any required and promised capability gaps and offer a significantly improved technical roadmap for the platform to be upgraded to AI-PSIM.” Additional AVERT products will be made available to Vidsys clients in a ‘cost-effective way’. They include technology for assessment and design, virtual tabletop and virtual reality training and enhanced AI and robotics capability surrounding the digital twin. A ‘digital twin’ is a digital representation of a physical object. Rapid incident response and robotic sentries interfaces ARES/Vidsys solution offers capabilities with extremely high levels of automation for rapid incident response ARES has a strong market position in several verticals that require a robust and automated next-generation AI-PSIM. The ARES/Vidsys solution offers capabilities with extremely high levels of automation that enable rapid incident response and incorporate advanced features, such as interfaces to robotic sentries. “These capabilities, along with a more automated deployment process, will allow Vidsys to scale their acquisition of customers across key verticals in which ARES is already active. This automated deployment process will also open new opportunities to work with system integrators who have shied away from PSIM projects in recent years,” stated Ben Eazzetta. Optimizing security operations ARES believes the physical security market is underserved by technology that optimizes operations. Ben Eazzetta adds, “All of our products are designed to optimize security operation, and the acquisition of Vidsys allows us to accelerate the development of the next generation PSIM that is adaptive and intelligent, powered by AVERT’s AI, and Modeling and Simulation system.” Vidsys pioneered PSIM in the security industry and created a robust library of connectors, providing an integrated real-time incident response system powered by a rules engine. Together, the AVERT/Vidsys solution seeks to transform the way security operations centers (SOCs) operate and respond to emergencies. Vidsys pioneered PSIM in the security industry and created a robust library of connectors Managing security at multiple sites Ben Eazzetta said, “There’s no denying that some in the security industry see PSIM as a four-letter word. But PSIM exists because it meets a need in the security operations center that cannot be met by either video management or incident management systems. It is critical that PSIM evolves to meet the rapidly changing demands of enterprise clients.” He adds, “Our clients need to manage security at multiple sites, each with different security plans and threats, they need adaptive rules engines to manage complex incidents and emergency responses, and they need automation to seamlessly command and control all security assets, including robotic assets.” Flexible and intelligent software Future of command-and-control will need to be flexible, intelligent software with extremely high levels of automation “The future of command-and-control will need to be flexible, intelligent software with extremely high levels of automation that enables very rapid incident response and incorporates advanced capabilities such as interfaces to robotic sentries,” said Ben Eazzetta. He adds, “To achieve this, we are replacing the brittle, difficult-to-configure rules engine of today’s PSIM with machine learning and AI capabilities that can produce automated/optimized responses or recommendations in near real time.” SaaS-enabled and remotely hosted system The systems will be SaaS-enabled, remotely hosted and easily configurable to reduce the cost and time of deployments for large enterprise implementations and easily supported by end-users, and system integrators. In a post-Covid-19 world, it is critical that enterprise security software solutions be adaptive, intelligent, automated and offer the ability for disparate teams to share information and collaborate in a meaningful way, while responding to incidents and emergencies in real-time. The ARES/Vidsys offering is a lifecycle solution that meets the needs of enterprise security operations. Next-generation of AI-PSIM “ARES has always pushed the needle of what is possible with our AVERT solution, ever since development of our digital twin technology began in 1999 to protect our nation’s nuclear stockpiles,” said Ben Eazzetta, adding “Today, we continue to innovate with the next generation of AI-PSIM.”     So what’s ahead for ARES and Vidsys in 2021? “A lot of Zoom calls!” laughs Eazzetta, adding “We are excited to leverage the decades of hard work that both teams have put into our solutions. We all realize the fantastic opportunity we have been given to create a next-generation AI-PSIM and to open new markets for all of our products and solutions.” He adds, “Combining the two companies will lead to improved development/support capability and significantly improved roadmaps for our clients. We will provide immediate ROI for clients by lowering deployment costs and leveraging the entire suite of products to provide more immediate value while continuing to deliver as promised, like ARES always does.”

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.