They say that there are two types of people in this world, those who think there are two types of people, and those who don’t.
When it comes to cybersecurity there used to be two types of people: those focused on creating a closed system that can never be breached, and those who recognized that converging technologies call for a more ecosystem-centric approach. Many of us who came up through the world of physical security systems would have been firmly in the first camp. But as the industry has migrated from analogue to IP-based technology and the new IoT ecosystem, every cybersecurity measure put into play (or lack thereof) can impact everything else on the network.
So, now there’s pretty much just one type of person – who believe that it’s imperative that our systems and devices not only converge on an operational level, but also on a cybersecurity level.
Today’s IT ecosystem is made up products and services from a variety vendors hopefully working together to create a complete solution. Added to this mix have been smartphones, laptops and tablets that run software which needs access to the system – all of which represent a potential cyber risk. It could be a Trojan horse accidentally introduced through a device or a determined hacker exploiting an unsecured connection to cloud storage.
Even if physical security is run on a separate network from the corporate IT infrastructure (now an impractical and expensive solution) human beings are fallible: an inadvertent connection to a broadband router; an accidental cross connection in a wiring closet or any number of unintentional oversights. It’s important to remember that there are no guarantees in cybersecurity
In the face of all these challenges, how do you develop an effective cybersecurity strategy?
Securing an Inter-Connected Web of Systems
The solution is to find an optimal way of merging the best practices of both the physical security world with the best practices of a traditional IT domain without introducing new cybersecurity vulnerabilities for other components in the converged system.
In a converged ecosystem such as an IP-based physical security scenario, the cyber threats and vulnerabilities become far more complex. Not only does the number of components increase, so do the number of vendors that are supplying that technology and the number of users accessing them. To mitigate risks in this kind of an open ecosystem, you need all the vendors operating off the same cybersecurity playbook.
Finding common ground to mitigating cyber risks
IT, physical security and technology manufacturers should be working as a cohesive unit – reaching consensus on current standards and current cyber mitigation technologies that really reflect “Highest Common Denominator” cyber risk mitigation techniques.
In most cases, the video surveillance cameras and video management system (VMS) are selected on two main criteria: their specific intended use – perimeter protection, surveillance in crowded public areas, etc. – and the strength of the vendor to satisfy that specific use. But there’s a third criteria that needs to be considered as well: does Camera Manufacturer A support the same security protocols as VMS Manufacturer B and do these protocols tie seamlessly into IT’s current suite of hardware, software and cyber protection protocols?
Who Owns Connectivity?
Since the ecosystem runs on IT’s infrastructure, it raises another important question: Who is responsible for the connectivity? Do cybersecurity strategies for the physical security network-attached systems and device now belong to IT? Or does the physical security department mandate that IT support the cybersecurity technologies built into physical security’s solutions? The simplest answer is that physical security management needs to work with integrators and manufacturers to devise solutions that are inherently supportive of IT’s current methodologies for cyber risk mitigation.
Making sure cybersecurity is a team effort
The similarities in cyber protection technologies between IoT and physical security might be self-evident, but there are some key concerns that should remain at the forefront of any system builder. No matter how sophisticated IoT devices and systems become they still operate in an IT world. And as such, they need to adopt a cooperative cyber protection strategy. Mature IoT technologies such as physical security will need to evolve to benefit from some of the emerging IoT cyber protection techniques.
In the meantime, those in the trenches will have to understand the environment their organisation exists in and address the increasing risk of cyber threats as a joint effort between vendor, security professionals and IT. We need to work with common tools to provide the end-user with the best possible cyber protection while living within budgetary constraints.