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 16th, 2018

Industry events are worth the time and resource investment for a couple of reasons:
Events offer the opportunity to learn and be inspired by the best in the industry. Organizers work hard to plan programs that include top notch keynote speakers and workshop leaders. Conferences offer attendees a one-stop shop for a wide range of issues, plus the opportunity to learn alongside your peers.

Conferences offer invaluable networking time with your peers. Who is struggling through the same challenges you are facing? Who has already figured it out and is ready to share what they have learned? What are best practices? Peers often have the answers, and the relationships formed in person may last long after the event has ended.

Companies often roll out new products at industry conference. For instance, Axis rolled out a new line of Infrared Illumination (IR) cameras at ISC West earlier this month. Attendees got a look at the new cameras, which feature, pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) and fixed dome cameras, bullet, fisheye and panoramic cameras, and discreet sensors units.

There’s a lot of value to be discovered in exhibits. The exhibit hall alone is worth the price of admission at an industry conference. Fun freebies and swag aside, exhibits often offer you the chance to see the best products in your industry in action. Best of all, you’ll have the chance to meet knowledgeable company representatives in person to discuss the products and solutions they offer, and your specific needs. It’s often like having a free consultation on your terms, and offers you the opportunity to kick off key conversations and relationships.

We’ll be attending the North American State Facilities Administrators National Conference and Resource Expo on June 3 – 6 in Santa Fe. NAFSA members are responsible for the planning, development, operations and maintenance of state facilities, and include facilities professionals in the departments of administration, transportation, real estate, parks, corrections, human services, and colleges and universities. That’s a really diverse group, and we’re looking forward to the educational and networking opportunities, and we’re also looking forward to greeting visitors at our booth in the expo hall.

What conferences do you plan to attend this year?

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.

March 16th, 2018

The latest mass shooting – this one at a veterans’ home in California – touches on the usual concerns around workplace violence and violence in medical facilities.

This incident, however, raises a new concern: are veterans a risk for committing violence?

The shooter in the incident in Yountville, California was a veteran who had been part of the home’s program for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While his motives are currently unknown, he had recently been dismissed from the program. He returned to the facility armed, and took the lives of three staff members before taking his own.

While people with ties to the military have been involved in recent high-profile shootings, including the perpetrator in the mass shooting in the Ft. Lauderdale airport last January, and the shooter in the Sutherland Springs church shooting last September, statistics do not show an increased risk for veterans.
According to this report in the San Diego Union Tribune, several studies and data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show no evidence that military veterans are more prone to lethal violence than others.

Even so, in the search for answers in the wake of traumatic events like mass shootings, some might seize on link together common factors such as military service to construct a narrative. In the case of veterans with PTSD, data doesn’t support the narrative that they are more likely to act out violently toward others.

How can facilities managers protect themselves, their employees and the people they serve? Some tips:

• Take any and all threats seriously. Communicate threats from former staff members, customers, clients and any others to the proper authorities.

• Develop policies and procedures that guide staff members on the steps to take in the event of an active shooter. Drill regularly.

• Design facilities with security in mind. Whether designing for initial construction or retrofitting an existing facility, ECT Services can help create spaces that are safer, more energy efficient and seamlessly connected.

Contact us at (800) 567-1180 today for a consultation.

March 12th, 2018

Weren’t we shivering under a blanket of snow just a couple of weeks ago? Then temps became warmer, with sunshine abundant, and spring fever started setting in. Of course, then it snowed last night.

Spring will officially start on March 20. Between now and then we could see several inches of snow, afternoon highs in the 80s, tornadoes, floods and just about anything in between. If you have any doubts, just check your Facebook memories and you’ll probably see evidence of all of these weather conditions on this day over the last several years.

With spring on the way, now is the time to tackle some routine maintenance and seasonal tasks. Put these on your to-do list now:

Check outside lighting. Walk your parking areas and around the outside of your facility. Look for outside lighting that may have been damaged during snowy, icy weather. Look for light bulbs that have burned out and replace them.

Check landscaping. Flower beds, parking lot islands, sidewalks and lawn areas might have taken a beating when being plowed, scraped and salted this winter. Look for signs of damage and note needed repairs. Look for potholes in parking lots that need repair, and significant gaps or cracks in sidewalks that can cause slips and falls.

Check security cameras and alarms. Review the placement and condition of all inside and outside cameras. Inspect wiring, and check placement to be sure views haven’t shifted or otherwise been compromised.

Clean or change HVAC filters and schedule routine maintenance. Pollen is already flying, and more will be in the air soon. Cleaning or changing out filters is a must to keep allergen levels down inside your facility. Plus, the system is likely to have trapped a lot of debris over the winter months; cleaning or changing the filter is a must for keeping the system running at peak efficiency.

Review severe weather policies and procedures. Tornado season is already underway. Schedule a drill with your team and make sure they all know what to do in the case of severe weather. Update checklists and rosters, especially is you’ve welcomed new team members or made other personnel changes since your last drill.

If you’d like to know more about how you can optimize and integrate your building systems, call us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

March 1st, 2018

Six minutes.

Six minutes is all it took for the shooter to take the lives of seventeen students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14th.

According to a timeline of events published by the Sun Sentinel, the accused killer entered the building at 2:21 p.m. and began firing. By 2:28, he had blended in with other students and exited the building.

As soon as the shooter began firing, the school went into a Code Red lockdown, which should have locked hallway doors and prevented his progress. But he had pulled the fire alarm, which overrode the door locks.

Even while taking cover in classrooms, teachers and students were frantically trying to call 911. For some, calls would not go through because there’s no cell phone service in those classrooms. Networks were also quickly overwhelmed, as is often the case in emergency events.

In the midst of the chaos surrounding mass shooting events, rapid response is crucial. According to a 2013 United States Department of Justice report, shooter situations last an average of 12.5 minutes, and it typically takes law enforcement an average of 18 minutes to respond. Shortening response time could save lives.

The Guardian indoor shot detection offered by Shooter Detection Services drops response time to as little as just five seconds. How? By using acoustic and infrared sensors to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. The highly-accurate automated response eliminates reliance on human response during high-pressure, stressful and physically dangerous situations.
Guardian also integrates with a variety of other systems to show live video feed and floor mapping during an event, so shooters can be accurately tracked even from off site. Door locks can be triggered that trap a shooter in a particular area.

Guardian also can be integrated with communication systems to send out mass notifications via social media, audio systems, computer monitors, telephones, mobile devices and fire alarms systems.

ECT Services is pleased to offer the Guardian gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems.

This video demonstrates the basics of the system.
Interested in learning more? Register for our Live Fire event.

February 23rd, 2018

Companies have long been sold on the idea of conserving energy as a means to be better stewards of both natural resources and their own financial resources.

Energy managers have sought ways to reduce their organization’s carbon footprint, reduce emissions, reduce waste, reduce power use and more. When it comes to power use in particular, most of the effort and emphasis has been on conservation: how can we use less power?

Answers have included everything from switching to LED lighting to investing in sophisticated building control systems that monitor usage and identify opportunities to maximize efficiency.
What’s next for organizations that have maximized their conservation options? The next step might be actually producing and/or storing their own energy.

Some technologies to watch:

Microgrids. Communities and even single facilities are increasingly turning to microgrids to deliver power needs. Microgrids typically connect to local resources – often renewable energy options like solar or wind power – for operation. Microgrids are connected to the main power grid, but can operate independently. Microgrids allow communities or facilities to become energy independent, and in some cases even sell energy back to the main grid. The effect reduces overall energy costs and may even become a revenue source.

MicroCHP. Combined heat and power systems combines the production of heat and electricity and converts waste heat to electricity. The systems are more efficient to operate, and may be powered by a variety of fuels including natural gas, biomass, solar and more. MicroCHPs make it possible to keep power generation extremely local (a home or office building), thus reducing the loss incurred in transmission of energy over distances. MicroCHPs can produce surplus energy, making more available to sell back to traditional energy suppliers.

Energy storage. Utility companies are now starting to experiment with using batteries for energy storage, but smaller scale solutions for homes and smaller facilities are on the horizon, too. The development of battery storage will allow producers to capture power generated by renewable energy sources like solar and wind and store for use when production is not at peak. For homes and businesses, this could open up the possibility of generating and storing their own power, and possibly even selling it back to the grid.

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.