August 1st, 2018

It’s a nightmare scenario.

A lone gunman holes up in your facility and uses it to stage a horrifying attack on the public, killing scores of people and striking terror in the hearts of the entire nation.

In the aftermath of the event as the public begins to sort out what happened, questions begin to arise about your organization. Should you have done more to prevent the attack? Were your safety and security measures adequate?

Experiencing the attack was agonizing, but those questions are even worse. Did you miss something key in planning? Would another system or tool have stopped the unthinkable from happening? Could you have foreseen this and prevented it?

Is your facility now liable for the loss and injury of so many innocent people at the hands of a terrorist?
The SAFETY Act might hold some answers to both issues:

1.) how can organizations evaluate their efforts to safeguard their facilities against terrorist attacks and

2.) how can organizations protect themselves against legal action in the event that those efforts fail to stop a terrorist attack.

According to a recent article posted on LATimes.com, the SAFETY Act allows companies to seek verification from the Department of Homeland Security that their security products and services are useful. If approved, the verification can limit the liability in the event the company is sued after an attack.

A quick scan of the SAFETY Act list of approved technologies reveals that not only have products received designations, but office parks, entertainment venues and public park systems have received designations, too, for their policies and procedures.

Even if you are not pursuing verification from the Department of Homeland Security for your facility, it’s worth your time to peruse the list and note the product vendors represented there. It’s a good starting place for considering vendors to enhance the safety and security of your facility.

You’ll see that our partner Shooter Detection Systems, LLC is listed there for their Guardian active shooter detection system. Guardian instantly detects gunshots inside a facility, pinpoints the location and notifies authorities, cutting response time significantly.

Want to know more about making your facility safer and more secure? Contact us at (800) 567-1180 to start the conversation.

June 27th, 2018

Axis Communications, a market leading network video provider, is innovating again with new product offerings that build on its core video capabilities.

In addition to announcing the release of two new rugged, fixed-dome outdoor cameras, Axis also recently announced the launch of a new cloud-based monitoring platform and an audio management tool. The new products build on Axis’ extensive line of security video cameras, platforms and more.

Axis has added two new video cameras to its Q35 series, the AXIS Q3518-LVE, the AXIS Q3517-SLVE.

According to a press release from Axis, the two new cameras includes support for Axis OptimizedIR illumination, Forensic WDR and Lightfinder technology, as well as Zipstream technology, which preserves important details in full image quality while significantly reducing storage and bandwidth needs. The cameras also include sophisticated onboard analytics for proactive surveillance; the ability to insert additional condition information into the video feed; external sensors that detect tampering and trigger alarms; relays to light activation and access control; redundant power and Ethernet; and easy installation.

The cameras are designed to operate in extreme temperatures from -50 C to +60 C and can withstand 50 joules of impact, with image stabilization that provides steady video even during intense impact.

The AXIS Q3517-LVE delivers 30 fps in 4K, while the AXIS Q3517-SLVE offers 5 MP. The SLVE offers a marine-grade stainless steel casing resistant to damage from salt, detergents and other chemicals.

Axis Communications also announced the release of its new AXIS Audio Manager C7050 Server. According to a press release from the company, the new Manager offers a complete audio management hardware and software package that allows users to manage and control all their network audio devices – including network speakers, audio bridges, microphones and horn speakers — from a single user interface.

Use cases include multi-site retail and educational environments. The manager allows users to control an entire network system from a desktop, tablet or mobile device.
Axis Communications also announced this week the release of its Guardian cloud-based remote monitoring solution. Guardian enables security vendors to partner more strongly with customers for off-site monitoring. Guardian easily integrates with existing systems, and is easily scalable to meet changing needs. The system allows remote monitors to accurately check alarms and deploy appropriate resources, reducing the need for onsite personnel. The system is fully accessible to customers as well, allowing for efficient collaboration.

Axis Communications has been a long time partner vendor with ECT Services. For more information about Axis’ innovative solutions and how they can meet your needs, call ECT Services at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

May 15th, 2018

With the weather warming up and the Kentucky Derby in the books, many are turning their attention to America’s favorite sport: baseball!

Little league fields across the country are humming with activity, and while the vast majority of the kids playing just dream of making the catch or scoring the winning run, some legitimately have their sights set a little higher.

In mid-August, talented teams of 10-12 year olds will take the field Williamsport, Penn. for the Little League World Series. For ten days, hundreds of thousands of players, coaches, parents, grandparents, fans and dignitaries from around the world will converge upon the small town of 6,500 to watch the action live.

But who will be keeping an eye on them?

Axis cameras will provide security teams with insights into all that’s going on across the 72-acre complex, which includes 2 stadiums, the World of Little League® Museum, parking, concessions, retail shops, sponsor booths, dormitories and other facilities. Strategically mounted AXIS Q60 PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) Network Cameras will allow teams to keep a pulse on crowds and zoom in on any activity of special note. Even activities that take place away from the glaring, bright lights of the outfield will be in sharp view; Axis Lightfinder technology enables the cameras to produce high resolution, colored images in almost complete darkness. Thermal camera and radar capabilities also enhance security around the complex’s perimeter.

Axis delivers these capabilities on a budget, too. Little League International is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the experience as affordable as possible for families to attend. There’s no entrance fee for the games, so there’s no gate to underwrite the security budget. Even so, Axis capabilities are efficient enough to provide maximum coverage and extend the reach of security teams. The cameras are integrated seamlessly with network and access control systems, maximizing coverage and efficiency.

Interested in learning more about how Axis can provide efficient, effective, integrated security solutions for your venue, too? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

April 23rd, 2018

It looks like HID is going to have to add a few new shelves to its trophy case. The identity solution provider raked in five awards from industry groups and publications in recent weeks.

Campus Security and Life Safety Magazine recognized HID’s cloud-based FARGO® Connect™card issuance offering with its 2018 Secure Campus award in the Cloud Solutions and Services category. HID FARGO Connect replaces the old paradigm of standalone printers tied to a dedicated PC workstation for ID issuance with the ability to issue ID cards from anywhere, from any device via a web interface in a trusted end-to-end encryption in a cloud environment. The FARGO Connect card issuance solution also tracks consumables use and helps control ID supply inventory.

HID Approve™ mobile authentication application was awarded New Product of the Year at the Info Security Global Excellence Awards gala ceremony during RSA 2018. HID Approve is a multi-factor authentication solution that equips users to authenticate and verify transactions.

HID’s Mini Tamper-Evident Beacon was recognized with the 2018 RFID Journal Live! Best New Product award. The beacon is the touted as the industry’s first Bluetooth beacon to provide anti-theft protection for IoT-based location services and conditioning monitoring applications. Use cases include monitoring gateways and portals and note when tagged assets approach; tracking temperatures, motion and vibration of machines for health and performance; and tracking inventory and equipment with 1 – 2 meter accuracy.

HID Trusted Tag Services for fire and safety compliance won Sales & Integration (SSI) magazine’s 2018 MVP award. The solution combines HID’s NFC trusted tags with their cloud-based authentication platform to add unique and trusted identities to everyday objects in the IoT, bridging the gap between physical maintenance and inspections and online management systems.

Cyber Defense Magazine also named HID Risk Management Solution the “Most Innovative Product” in the category of cyber security discovery during RSA 2018. The solution is a real-time cyber risk profiling technology that uses data analytics to protect transactions against cybercriminals. It combines evidence-based detection capabilities and behavioral biometrics, supported by machine learning, according to a release from HID.

What does this mean for ECT Services customers? It means you can trust us to partner with recognized industry leaders to provide the most innovative building automation and integration solutions available.

If you are interested in learning more about HID and our other partners, call us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

 

 

 

April 14th, 2018

During the current Kentucky General Assembly, lawmakers passed HB 100, which included an amendment allowing Kentucky to issue its own amendments to the National Electrical Code.

Senator Jared Carpenter (R-Richmond) spoke in favor of the amendment, citing the practices he endorses as the owner of KJC Properties, LLC Real Estate and Rental Properties.

If a tenant calls and says they plugged in a curling iron and now their lights won’t come on, the solution is typically to change the GFCI outlets, said Carpenter. Ground fault control breaker outlets just don’t work well, says Carpenter, and cause needless service issues that drive up costs. Federal regulations reduce efficiency and increase costs for businesses, he said, while not necessarily keeping people safe.

“There’s no electrician that wants to come to your house that wants to do faulty, unsafe work,” said Carpenter. They don’t want to risk the liability if something goes wrong, he said.

The National Fire Prevention Association takes a different view. Keeping current with the latest nation standards is critical for safety, NFPA maintains, and neglecting or opposing national standards could lead to property damage and loss of life.

The political and regulatory environment has shifted significantly in the last few years, however, and now national standards like the NEC face greater scrutiny. Adoption of updates is taking longer.

What does that mean for facilities managers? Facilities managers might have to work a little harder to keep up with the latest regulations, particularly in states like Kentucky which may amend the NEC or other federal standards. State code changes might not always be less strict, sometimes they may be more stringent depending on local context. It’s important to take nothing for granted. Keeping an eye on local codes is key, too.

Organizations like NFPA can be helpful in keeping up with the latest, but developing a good relationship with your local code enforcement office is key. They are the experts when it comes to knowing what is permissible, what is not, and why. Look to your local code enforcement office as an educational resource.

March 23rd, 2018

The best building control and security systems can be defeated by something very simple: insecure passwords.

Easily compromised passwords expose vulnerabilities and make it possible for disgruntled former employees, hackers or other bad actors to wreak havoc.
Each year, SplashData releases its list of the worst passwords. The list is culled from passwords revealed by hacking attacks from that year. It’s hard to believe, but passwords such as “123456” and “qwerty” and even “password” still make the list, despite perennial warnings that these passwords are not secure.

Why do businesses spend thousands on sophisticated security and building control systems, only to leave them open to easy attacks? It’s a bit like installing a very fancy lock on your front door, and leaving the key in place.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for creating and maintaining more secure passwords:

Don’t use familiar terms
Names, significant dates and other personal details make it possible for hackers to guess. Especially as our lives are lived more and more online, and hackers become more and more sophisticated, it becomes fairly easy to discover your favorite team is UK and your favorite color is blue and your mother’s maiden name is Smith. Using any of those terms in a password is risky. Instead, use nonsense, unrelated terms. Be sure to mix capital letters in, as well as a digit or a symbol. You might even consider using an automated random password generator.

Don’t share
Don’t share passwords between accounts and systems. Sharing passwords between accounts and systems is a huge temptation, and almost everyone does it. But it makes it extremely easy for hackers to take over not just one account, but an entire identity.

Do change passwords regularly
Change passwords regularly, but not too frequently. Change passwords any time your business has a personnel change. When you have turnover, change any password used by that person at any time.
Encourage all personnel to change passwords annually. Any more frequently will likely result in compliance challenges.

February 14th, 2018

Remember that time hackers wiggled their way through security weaknesses in Internet-connected security cameras and unleashed the Mirai botnet, taking down major sites such as Twitter and Spotify?

The event highlighted the vulnerabilities exposed by IoT (Internet of Things) devices. The same devices that offer us incredible scalability and insight can also be used to disrupt our world when exploited by bad actors. That event and many others like it have prompted device developers to innovate and launch new platforms that step up security for connected devices.

Axis’ new Device Manager is the latest entry in the market. The new platform, which replaces Camera Management, offers users the ability to manage thousands of cameras, access control and audio devices in one place. Features include the ability to automatically assign IP addresses; install, configure, replace or upgrade devices; set restore points and factory default settings; upgrade device firmware; manage user accounts and passwords; copy configurations between thousands of devices; connect to multiple servers and systems; and deploy and renew HTTPS & IEEE 802.1x certificates.

“Being able to access and efficiently install, adapt and secure all of the devices on your network saves a tremendous amount of time and effort. AXIS Device Manager is the go-to tool for reaching all Axis devices — whatever stage of their lifecycle — and make needed adjustments,” said Ola Lennartsson, global product manager, System Management at Axis Communications in a press release.”

“In today’s fast-paced world, any device or network that is static is not only old-fashioned, it is potentially prone to cyber threats. Therefore it is important we ensure our customers can use a tool that allows them to easily, rapidly and decisively manage all of the devices on their network. AXIS Device Manager is that tool.”

Dynamic, centralized control of devices makes it easier to stay a step ahead or security threats, especially for larger installations across multiple locations.

Interested in learning more? Our team can take you through a system integration project from design to completion. Call (800) 567-1180 to arrange for a consultation.

February 9th, 2018

Shortly after the New Year, news broke world wide of potential weaknesses in the hardware that drives nearly every device on the planet from computers to smart phones. “Update everything now” dominated the news cycles for several days.

Now that the conversation has calmed a bit, facilities managers may be wondering, “What exactly was that all about, and how might it impact my integrated systems?” Here’s a high level explanation:

Last summer, researchers with Google and several universities discovered a new way hackers might be able to work their way around modern processors to gain access passwords and other sensitive information. One type of exploit was patchable, and patches were quickly developed and deployed.

The other approach is not so easily patchable, and will require a redesign of processors themselves. That will require years of research and work.
So, where does that leave the rest of the world? The situation may not be quite as dire or threatening as it seems. Keep in mind, these exploits were discovered by researchers. They are extremely novel approaches and will require a high level of expertise to develop attacks. To date, there’s no evidence that any attacks have been made using these weaknesses. Make no mistake, however, hackers are likely hard at work trying to figure out how to exploit these vulnerabilities, but right now security experts remain one step ahead with patches and other fixes.

Patches have already been pushed out, and longer term fixes will likely be ready by mid-year.

So what should you do in the meantime? The best thing to do is to make sure to implement all system updates in a timely fashion.

For our part, we have been vigorously researching the problem to determine if our customers’ integrated building systems will be impacted. Our goal is to bring you solid information and solutions that securely function and provide value.  We currently have no indication that these exploits have been used to obtain customer data, and we will continue to closely follow this situation.

ECT Services is dedicated to the safety and security of our customers.   As more information becomes available, we will continue to provide updates.   In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like further information, please contact us at (800) 567-1180. Thank you.

January 24th, 2018

Flu activity is now widespread across much of the country, and hitting hard in the Ohio Valley. The strain going around this year seems to be particularly vicious and not included in the flu shot.

If it hasn’t already made its way through your staff, it probably will soon. Team members will be out sick or caring for sick family members. While having a team member out can be a challenge in terms of workload and project deadlines for the rest of the team, can it also pose a security risk?

Without proper planning and redundancies, yes. Being short staffed can lead to weaknesses in processes as overburdened staff members scramble to fill in gaps, especially if they are unfamiliar with systems or don’t have access to systems.

Here are some ideas for reducing the risk:

– Prevent the spread of the flu. The strongest weapon to combat the flu is simple hygiene. Make sure bathrooms are well stocked with handwashing supplies and cleaned and disinfected regularly. Post reminders in bathrooms and breakrooms about handwashing. Cleaning crews should also regularly wipe down light switch plates, door handles, counter tops, phones and any other surfaces that are touched frequently.

– Give clear guidance that those who are experiencing symptoms – fever, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea – should stay home. Support that by giving adequate sick days or allowing work to be made up later. Keeping sick workers out of the office is key to keeping the rest of the staff well.

– Cross train and document key roles. Make sure roles and basic duties are documented, and buddy up team members to cross train one another. Use regular staff meetings to give updates on key projects and issues so everyone has some familiarity with what other team members are doing, and can step in at a moment’s notice. Make it a practice to run emergency drills and review policies and procedures regularly, so staff members are always prepared.

– Where possible, allow work from home. If flu starts making its way through your staff, it might be best to allow team members to work from home to reduce their chances of being exposed. Consider flexible work policies when possible.

 

December 14th, 2017

For most bricks and mortar retailers, ‘tis the season for high-volumes of foot traffic through stores. The last two months of the year are make-or-break, and understanding how customers are moving through retail space, where they are stopping to look, how long they are waiting for help or waiting in line are all key to maximizing sales.

Did you know that security video systems can do double-duty as merchandising analytics tools?

It’s possible using Bosch Security Systems’ In Store Analytics. The cloud-based service uses position data generated by its cameras to provide detail on how shoppers move through a retail space.

Bosch panoramic IP cameras are installed and positioned to take in as much of the retail floor space as possible, so the maximum amount of data can be captured. Shopper position data is captured and transmitted to the cloud, where it is further analyzed and delivered back to merchandising managers for review via a customized dashboard. The interface is designed to be easy to use, and doesn’t require any advanced query or data mining capabilities on the part of the user.
From the position data, merchandising managers can see how shoppers are moving through the retail space. They can see which displays are attracting shoppers, at which are not. They can identify peak times of day for traffic down to the display level, and position staff appropriately. The data also reveals how long shoppers linger in different areas, and how strongly they are engaged with merchandise or sales personnel. The intelligence gathered can be used to reposition displays or personnel to maximize sales.

In Store Analytics may be just the tool bricks and mortar retailers need to better compete with online retailers. Online retailers have the distinct advantage of being able to collect large amounts of significant customer data, including the purchasing journey. Bricks and mortar retailers often miss that piece, and have difficultly pinning down just how customers move through the process to purchase. In Store Analytics can help close that gap by providing actionable insights on customer flow and helping identify missed opportunities.

The In Store Analytics platform is suitable for large footprint retail spaces and scalable across multiple sites. Bosch also plans to roll out In Store Analytics dashboards for operations and loss prevention managers.