The greatest challenge that the energy sector faces in modern times is how to meet the continuously changing risk factors and addressing all of the necessary security aspects. Considering their unique infrastructure, expensive and sensitive materials onboard, and sometimes even classified national assets, energy facilities and critical infrastructures will always be subject to varied security threats.

With hundreds of oil refineries, nuclear power plants, research reactors and fuel cycle facilities in operation worldwide, preventing certain materials from falling into the hands of adversaries or threat elements who seeks to steal or even harm the station operators is the top priority of the corporations’ security teams.

Use of explosive devices in energy sector attacks

The overwhelming majority of attacks (74%) on energy targets, between 2010 and 2014, were carried out by the use of explosive devices, while facility and infrastructure attacks, including arson and sabotage tactics, were the second most common (CEI Security Stakeholder Group Manifest).

In April 2013, terrorists used high-powered rifles to destroy several transformers at a transmission substation in California in an incident that incurred more than US$ 15 million in damages and required nearly a month to restore.

Robust layer-upon-layer security network

Energy plants are among North America’s most protected private sector facilities

Still, energy plants are among North America’s most protected private sector facilities. They are extremely robust structures that, by design and construction, are very challenging to penetrate. These structures, a well-trained security force and strict access controls for operators and visitors provide a robust layer-upon-layer comprehensive security network.

The security level increases as one gets closer to the ‘owner-controlled area’, which is fenced and secured by advanced systems and well-armed security officers. This security ring typically shields the reactor, the control room, the used fuel pool and the central security alarm stations.

The systems provide:

  • High-quality scanned images,
  • Smart compare capabilities for the inspection of recurring vehicles,
  • Fraud prevention tools backed by a unique vehicle ID,
  • Full integration to barriers, bollards and access control systems,
  • Automatic detection of illicit materials or unauthorized access on the first pass,
  • COVID-19 compatible: Driver and passenger fever detection capabilities.

Helios UVIS by UVeye

Access to the owner-controlled area should be limited and protected by an automated access control system that integrates with the alarmed security doors and response system connected to federal or local law enforcement agencies, which can assist in the event of an attack.

Helios UVIS by UVeye helps ensure that all measures are taken to control vehicles’ access to sensitive energy facilities and protect them from such risks. Helios UVIS is designed to detect illicit materials being smuggled in, prevent theft, and thwart unauthorized access or other malicious acts in and around the secured facility.

UV Inspect, advanced vehicle pass solution

UV Inspect can be used for vehicles that have not been previously scanned by a system

Offering single- or multi-lane units, as well as stationary or mobile units, UVeye’s advanced deep learning algorithms were developed through training with millions of vehicles and allow UVeye to offer its first pass solution, UV Inspect.

Built on a truly intimate understanding of what a wide range of vehicles are supposed to look like in various environmental conditions, UV Inspect can be used for vehicles that have not been previously scanned by a system. UVeye is the only under-vehicle inspection system (UVIS or UVSS) vendor to offer a verified first-pass solution that significantly increases security teams’ effectiveness.

UV Compare, license plate or fingerprint ID recognition

Another key feature from Helios is called UV Compare, which enables it to recognize previously scanned vehicles by their license plate or unique undercarriage fingerprint ID, and compare it to previous scans.

Individuals who are granted access to the facility or protected area, whether they are employees, contractors or visitors, become part of this database. This feature can also help detect tiny objects such as paper bags, phones, miniature hard disks and other contraband.

Securing confidential materials

Due to their complex environment and sensitive information, energy sites are a target for technology and data theft scenarios. The physical protection of energy plants and associated facilities must include vehicle access point inspection to ensure these security systems’ effectiveness against defined risk factors by UVeye’s tailored security level, answering a wide range of security requirements.

Given the industry’s unique work conditions and the varied types of vehicles accessing these facilities, Helios can withstand up to 40,000 pounds (20 tons) per axle, meaning that it will survive being driven over by even massive vehicles like trucks or SUVs.

Durable with built-in thermal sensor

Helios is also designed to respond to weather variation, such as daily changes in temperature

Helios is also designed to respond to weather variation, such as daily changes in temperature, storms and weather hazards. It is fully operational at temperatures between 68°F and 104°F (20° and 40° Celsius) and is IP 68/54 compliant, meaning it offers full protection against sand, dust and rain.

UVeye’s built-in thermal sensor can detect the body temperatures of the passengers in vehicles entering the site’s access roads, assuring the safety and security of everyone in and around the facility.

Multi-layer access control security

UVeye fully supports third-party integration and provides multiple layers of security for any facility. Integrations available and made in the past include:

  • ALPR System
  • Face Detection/Recognition
  • Arm Barriers/Bollards
  • VMS (Video Management System)​

Centralized data management system

Centralized management system allows the client to access multiple systems and manage historical data

Integrating to the centralized server provides the capability of connecting multiple systems or lanes across different sites, while also enabling central management and control via one screen. The centralized management system allows the client to access multiple systems and manage the other users and historical data.

The undercarriage is one of the most critical parts of the vehicle to inspect and one of the most challenging areas to examine. Helios is the perfect solution to prevent any weapons or other illegal and dangerous items from entering energy facilities.

Enhanced data security

Integrating it with additional security and access control systems can provide a multi-layered approach to tighten the entry and exit points to any sensitive site while keeping personnel and data safe.

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

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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.

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