January 15th, 2020

What’s the most important integration into every system that we service and/or install?

People.

Every single system must integrate with people in some way. Every integration point opens up a new opportunity for a threat.

This post from Security Magazine really raised my awareness about the nature of insider threats and approaches to mitigating risk. What is an insider threat? It is any act of theft, fraud, sabotage or violence instigated by someone inside an organization. The post outlines several types of insider threats and some tips on how to recognize each:

Unintentional insider threat. This threat isn’t caused by someone acting maliciously; this type of threat is tipped off by someone who is distracted or stressed. They forget or shortcut important steps. To guard against this type of threat, be aware of staff members who are careless with sensitive information, overshare on social media and consistently miss deadlines.

Intellectual property/sensitive data theft. Do you have an associate that “borrows” office materials for home use? Has gotten a poor performance review, missed a promotion or is about to be fired? They may be a risk to steal intellectual property or sensitive data for their own benefit on their way out the door. That sensitive information could end up being used against you by a competitor or other threat.

Insider fraud. Keep an eye out for associates who routinely live beyond their means or are suddenly facing unexpected expenses. They could be at risk of perpetrating insider fraud to benefit themselves and get out of a tight spot.

Sabotage. The office bully isn’t just bad for morale. Bullying is a red flag for sabotage. The saboteur wants to disrupt or even destroy work in an effort to assert their dominance or get revenge for a slight.

Workplace violence. I see the threat of workplace violence as a progression of sabotage. The perpetrator of workplace violence wants to go beyond damaging a piece of equipment or undermining a sale. They want to cause physical harm to those around them, perhaps in an outburst. They share characteristics with saboteurs, but may also threaten violence.

Each of the above threats can be detected and mitigated with team effort. We’d be happy to talk to you about how systems can be integrated to help you detect these threats and others. Give us a call at (800) 567-1180 to consult.

November 26th, 2019

This post from Campus Safety sparked my thinking about innovation. The premise of the post is that digital signage can and should be deployed for use in emergencies when notification is critical. I’m always intrigued by creative solutions that seem obvious once they are pointed out, and this example definitely qualifies as a slap-to-the-forehead, “why didn’t I think of that?!” moment.

The idea is potentially simple: post messaging on cloud-based, networked digital signs to communicate across school, hospital or other large campuses in the event of an emergency. Those menu boards in the cafeteria, the wayfinding displays in the lobby, the screens near the elevators, etc. can all be deployed to alert people to an imminent threat and direct them to safety.

The idea illustrates the power of innovation at work. Here’s how:

Innovation solves a problem. Text-based alerts have become the go-to for most organizations. But even as ubiquitous as smart phones have come to be, they are not the end-all, be-all for notifications in emergencies. They require users to opt-in for notifications, to have alerts turned on, and to pay attention when a message is received. How can we solve that problem? Looking at other communication channels – in this case digital signage – in a fresh new way is one solution.

Innovation doesn’t mean spontaneous and unplanned. On the contrary, innovation most often deploys considerable thought and planning. Utilizing digital signage in an emergency will require advance planning and documentation. You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of who owns the devices, how they are managed, access, permission levels and more. You’ll need to map out when and how they will be deployed in an emergency, and get signoff from stakeholders. All of this will require a thorough, thoughtful approach. Innovation doesn’t just “happen.”

Innovation pushes everyone outside of what they expect. People expect to get alerts on their phones. Our phones alert us about things all the time, from social media notifications to incoming email alerts and a thousand other things. After a while, it’s difficult to take those alerts seriously and they just become white noise. But if the digital menu I’m reading suddenly changes to warn me that there’s a tornado bearing down on campus and I need to take shelter in a nearby safe room, I’m likely to pay attention. I don’t expect to see that warning there, and the bright colors and motion graphics convey emotion and urgency I won’t necessarily get in a text.

Here at ECT Services, we pride ourselves on developing innovative approaches. Need a new solution that builds on current systems? Call us for a consultation today.

November 25th, 2019

I’m always on the lookout for great stories highlighting innovation and integration and this recent post from ASIS really caught my eye.

The story details the Detroit Institute of the Arts’ approach to updating their security system. Given our partnership with the Speed Museum in their renovation and our deep relationship with Axis the story was especially intriguing.

The DIA was long overdue for security overhaul when Eric Drewry, CPP, took them helm as director of security in 2015. Museum visitors can wreak havoc on exhibits both accidentally and intentionally. DIA  needed a solution that would protect the art collection while not disrupting the visitors’ experience.

A few key insights from the solution:

Keep your customer central. Designing a solution to keep valuable artwork safe could be very straightforward; lock it all up in a vault and it will never get damaged, lost or stolen. But keeping artwork safe isn’t the entire goal. Preserving art for the enjoyment and edification of the public is the goal, and it’s difficult to engage with artwork that is locked away or otherwise inaccessible.

DIA kept museum visitors central. The security system functions like a channel for dialog between museum staff and visitors. Staff uses the solution to gather data points about traffic patterns and issues to gain insights into visitor needs. For instance, staff observed that visitors were consistently getting too close to a particular object to peer at notes on the artist and work. They determined that more prominent signage was needed to help visitors engage with the work while keeping a safe distance.

Keep your context in mind. Like many public buildings – the Speed definitely comes to mind – the facility was historic and additions had been added throughout the years. We have significant understanding of how important innovation is in retrofitting systems in historic buildings. The infrastructure didn’t lend itself to cables and wires required for high tech equipment.

Fortunately, Axis’ camera line was a perfect fit. Axis modular cameras required only one cable for four cameras, and the cameras’ quality and coverage made it possible to cover an entire gallery with just four cameras and one cable. That saved a lot of risk and resources and helped gain efficiencies in cost and installation.

Need an innovative partner for your systems integration project? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 to connect for a consultation.

November 13th, 2019

The use cases for video in healthcare settings stretch far beyond the typical security applications, according to Ty Miller, business development manager for healthcare for Genetec, one of our partner vendors. Miller recently shared a number of innovative healthcare use cases for video on the Dell PowerChat podcast.

Video is powerful tool for enhancing the patient experience, says miller. Hospitals and other provider facilities are becoming increasingly focused on the patient experience and are recognizing patients as consumers. Just as retailers are using video to enhance the consumer experience, health care providers are now using video to enhance the patient experience. Here are a few of the ways video can be used to enhance the patient experience:

Detecting drug diversion. Drug diversion – the theft of drugs from facilities – cost health care payors and others an estimated $75 billion a year. Those costs eventually get passed on to the consumer in a variety of ways, including higher costs for services. Video can be used in concert with other security systems to control access and deter diversion.

Optimize safety. “Being able to limit wandering patients is one example of how we can optimize safety in [healthcare] environments,” said Miller. It’s not unusual for patients suffering from dementia or other issues to become confused and find their way out of facilities and into dangerous situations. Integrated access control and safety systems can use tags to detect patient location, confirm location with video and redirect patients back to safety quickly before they are at risk.

Fall risk reduction. Thermal cameras can detect if a patient has fallen or is about to fall without revealing their identity or compromising their dignity.

“Thermal imaging technology protects privacy,” says Miller, and doesn’t violate HIPAA, all while preventing further injury or summoning help quickly.

Offers context with integrated systems. Systems designed to prevent infants from being kidnapped from hospital maternity floors are sensitive and often produce false alarms. Video instantly offers contextualization that can help reduce false alarms by work seamlessly with other systems to verify identity at key access points, says Miller.

Hands-free access control. Video cameras can also offer facial recognition for workstation sign on and access control. In a facility where workers may be pushing carts or wheelchairs, carrying supplies or trying to limit the surfaces to reduce the spread of infections, hands-free sign on offers increased efficiency and safety.

Interested in exploring innovating new use cases to improve the customer experience? We’d be happy to chat.

October 17th, 2019

Halloween used to be a strictly neighborhood affair. On October 31, kids raced home after school, donned their costumes, then headed out with sacks in hand for trick or treating.

Today it’s blossomed into a community-wide affair. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, schools, churches and even businesses get in on the fun by hosting festivals or trunk or treat events.

These extracurricular activities are a great way opportunities for community and employee relations, but they do pose some safety risks. Here’s how to mitigate those risks and enjoy your event:

Bring safety to the table. While safety should be everyone’s job, at least one person on your planning team should be tasked with reviewing all plans. Responsibility should include identifying trip and fall hazards, cordoning off equipment and areas that are unsafe for non-employees, and traffic planning.

Get security involved early, too. The planning team should also include a leader tasked with security. Security might focus on how to prevent children or dependent adults and their adult guardians from getting separated from each other, how to handle disruptions and loss prevention.

Change perspective. If you event is planned for outside of your normal operating hours, and in particular for after dark, be sure to do a thorough walk-through in and around your facility at that time of the day. Traffic patterns change considerably throughout the day, and might look quite different during your event than they do during normal operating hours. The parking lot and facility look different, too. Scope out those differences by doing a thorough walk through in advance.

Include contingency plans and safety drills. Guests at your facility won’t know what to do in the event of sudden inclement weather, a fire, or some other emergency. Make sure staff and volunteers are fully prepared to respond. Staff and volunteers should know their responsibilities in an emergency and should be prepared to guide guests to safety.

Review security and access controls. Now is a good time to ensure that your facility’s video and access control systems are performing well. Cameras may need to be adjusted to accommodate different traffic patterns. Access control may need to be modified to lock down certain areas while opening up others. It’s a good time to review the flexibility and configurability of your system.

October 15th, 2019

Your business has been struck by a criminal. They were able to break in and make off with thousands of dollars worth of valuable equipment and inventory. Your cameras didn’t capture clear images of the perpetrator or their transportation, but there’s a good chance that better images might be available from other businesses along your street.

But it may take days before police are able to identify cameras, track down owners and get their permission to view footage.

Thanks to Genetec, there’s now a solution to that problem.

When it comes to preventing and solving crime, public and private entities now have a new collaborative tool at their fingertips.

Genetec announced today the release of a new camera registry module for its Genetec Clearance platform. Genetec Clearance is a digital evidence management system.

“The Genetec Clearance camera registry allows organizations to reduce the time to fulfill access requests and share video evidence between stakeholders operating across different systems, departments, and jurisdictions,” said Erick Ceresato, Genetec Product Manager in a company press release. “The technology allows organizations to maximize the use of their staffing and provides investigators faster access to evidence to help enhance their response, and focus on public safety within their communities.”

According to the release from Genetec, the new camera registry module simplified the video request process. The registry allows organization to share a registry of their cameras and allow authorized users to request captured video footage from relevant cameras to aid in investigations.

The registry replaces the routine legwork that is typically part of investigating. Rather than spending time hunting down cameras, identifying who owns or has authority over a camera, contacting the camera’s owner and requesting footage, the registry gives public safety agencies and private businesses or citizens a place to collaborate.

The system allows administrators to set up their own custom request forms and approval workflows. Once release of a video is approved, an encrypted version is released and tracked appropriately. The new camera registry module is a great example of innovation from one of our valued partners. For more innovative ideas, contact us for a consultation.

September 25th, 2019

The Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC), a division of Ohio’s Department of Homeland Security, “will assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety” according to a story posted by securitymagazine.com.

Kentucky launched its own program by naming a school security marshal earlier this year.

The OSSC will review school emergency management plans and offer free risk and threat assessments for Ohio’s 5,500 schools using the following tools:

  • The SaferOH Tip Line. The SaferOH Tip Line, which accepts calls or texts to 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764), offers schools staff, students and community members a free and confidential way to share tips and reports about activities that could represent threats to school safety. All tips are forwarded to local schools and law enforcement
  • Digital and social media monitoring. Intelligence analysts will actively monitor social and digital media for threats. Threats will be identified, analyzed and actioned upon appropriately.
  • Emergency management plan review. OSSC staff will review school emergency management plans and provide support as requested.
  • Threat assessment training. OSSC staff will provide policy guidance and training for schools that have a threat assessment team.
  • An enhanced website, saferschools.ohio.gov. The site includes resources on school safety from various state agencies, and will also include a database to communicate training opportunities, meetings, promotional materials, model policies and other resources.
  • An annual school safety summit where school safety, public safety, and mental health professionals can share best practices, training, and resources with schools and community leaders from across the state.

ECT Services has deep partnerships with schools and offers a full range of tools and services aimed at enhancing school safety and security, including access control, fire detection and suppression, video monitoring, automatic gunshot detection and more.

July 31st, 2019

Serious budget pressures are now threatening school safety.

In recent weeks, officials with the city of Louisville have announced that they may have to reduce the number of officers available to offer security services to schools, including school resource officers and crossing guards. The announcements have raised alarms among staff, students and parents who are concerned that the reductions and reallocations will place students at risk.

While short-term measures aimed at covering gaps have been put in place, long-term budget pressures remain. That means schools may need to get more creative when it comes to meeting safety and security needs.

The answer to some needs may be in leveraging technology, and at least one company is offering to help schools apply for grants to meet needs. Avigilon, a Motorola company, is offering grant research, grant alert notices and expert grant application reviews to schools applying for grants to enhance video security.

How can video enhance safety and security? Here are a few ideas:

Extend the reach of staff and school safety officers. Video enables staff and school safety officers to keep their eyes on all areas of school facilities and grounds and get help where it is needed most quickly and accurately. Monitors can quickly assess issues and offer the appropriate interventions if necessary.

Integrate with other systems. Video can be integrated with other systems for a more seamless, comprehensive approach. Integrations can include access control, public address systems/two-way communication, gunshot detection, fire detection and more.

Study traffic patterns and identify opportunities for improvement. Video can offer a birds-eye view – literally – of high-congestion indoor and outdoor areas that when coupled with artificial intelligence and other tools can help administrators gain insights into process and facility improvements.

Interested in learning more about how you might be able to leverage technology to enhance school safety and security? ECT Services has deep expertise and an innovative approach. Call us at 502-567-1180 for a free onsite consultation.

July 15th, 2019

In most offices – ours included – the coffee maker is standard operating equipment, and the biggest hazard it poses is running empty before the caffeine-dependent among us are fully awake.

But this recent post caught our attention and raised our awareness about the threat posed by IoT (internet of things) connected devices. The pros at Professional Security Magazine put their skills to work hacking a “smart” coffee machine.

A smart coffee machine may sound fairly innocuous, but it’s not. The risks of a compromised device stretch far beyond a subpar cup of morning joe. Compromised connected devices can open up networks and all devices associated with a network to all manner of risk.

In 2016, hackers were able to launch a DDoS attack that took down sites like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit and more by infiltrating and compromising networks through connected devices like DVRs, baby monitors and IP cameras.

Let’s go back to that coffee pot.

The white hat hackers at Professional Security Magazine were able to manipulate the coffee machine itself to do some fairly annoying and perhaps even dangerous things.

“We infiltrated the coffee maker via Wi-Fi, then set up malicious software updates that made the coffee maker do unexpected and potentially dangerous things. We made the burner overheat, potentially starting a fire. We made scalding water pour onto the burner. We even made the coffee maker send ransomware messages demanding payment,” they said in the post.

But the hacking had more serious and sinister implications. The compromised coffee machine was now a gateway to the network. Hackers would be able to see emails and payment information on purchases made online. They would be able get into security systems, see video cameras, and muck around in other sensitive places.

The proliferation and utility of IoT devices means they are here to stay. At ECT Services, we certainly believe in the power and potential of integrated systems.

So what can you do to safeguard your home and business? Here are a few tips:

Keep connections minimal. Only network and connect to the internet when necessary, and in those circumstances work to minimize exposure and secure connections. If a device needs internet access, understand how it needs to be accessed and take steps to protect remote access channels. One example would be to require use of VPN type services.

Don’t reuse passwords.  Especially on your network or wireless router. Remove or disable default accounts if possible and always change default account passwords using strong password standards. Use two factor authentication if a product or service allows.

Know what’s connected. Understand all the devices connected to your network, and why they must be connected. Keep an inventory and audit regularly.

At ECT Services, we approached smart devices very carefully and custom tailor solutions to meet your security needs. Contact us today at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation about your building security and integration.

June 19th, 2019

Kentucky has taken significant steps towards implementing some of the changes mandated in the school safety legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.

This week, Ben Wilcox was named Kentucky school security marshal, a role created by the School Safety and Resiliency Act, which passed in March 2019. The legislation was crafted in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Marshall County in January 2018. Wilcox, who will be headquartered at Eastern Kentucky University’s Department of Criminal Justice Training Center, will oversee the work of two compliance supervisors, 12 compliance officers and one program coordinator. The team will offer guidance and accountability to school districts across the state as they seek to comply with the law’s other mandates.

In addition to creating Wilcox’s and other roles, the act also urges schools to hire resource officers and work with local law enforcement agencies to develop safety policies and track violent incidents.

Districts are also encouraged to make upgrades to facilities to make them more secure. All schools must restrict access before July 1, 2022, and buildings and renovations/expansions must comply with new safety guidelines.

How can ECT Services help schools achieve compliance and improve safety and security for students, faculty, staff and families? Here are a few ways we are able to support these efforts:

Access control. ECT Services partners with HID, the worldwide leader in access control. HID solutions are robust and feature strong integration capabilities.

Automatic shot detection. The Guardian indoor shot detection system offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected, limiting a shooter’s movement and/or keeping potential targets out of harm’s way. Guardian has been successfully integrated into security solutions in several school districts around the country.

Interested in learning more? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.