Despite the complexity of many modern security systems, there are some very simple basics that can be overlooked - potentially rendering an entire security network open to attack!
Here are our top five tips for avoiding the obvious pitfalls and ensuring your security doesn’t fall at the first hurdle.
1. Ensure passwords are secure and changed from the default
We often find that security users don’t change the default passwords on their systems! This isn’t just the case with access control systems, but often with many IT-based systems.
Updating passwords is something we would always emphasise when reviewing security systems. It is at the forefront of TDSi’s system development too. For example, the new version of our EXgarde situational security software (version 4.6) is designed to encourage users to generate and use stronger passwords.
Typically, this requires incorporating upper and lower-case characters, numbers and even symbols – anything that lowers the predictability of passwords.
2. Ensure your servers are up to date
This is something else that seems obvious (but is easily overlooked) and very important to remember - all servers (and especially those that deal with security) need to be up to date with the latest anti-virus, security software and patches.
There have been a number of high-profile hacking cases in recent years (both in the public and private sector) that demonstrate just how important it is not to be complacent. Usually these updates can be scheduled, but there needs to be vigilance that this is being done regularly and reliably.
3. Access to the security database
Naturally, it is vital to control which users have access to your security systems. If you aren’t selective about granting access to these systems, it is much harder to stop the wrong people looking at or potentially misusing them.
This is even more important with respect to upcoming GDPR regulations (which come into force in May 2018) that will further tighten data protection rules. GDPR will further drive compliance requirements for security regulations within the EU (and for any business dealing with EU citizens) – so its vital to stay on top of the rules.
4. Security systems design
This largely comes down to forward-thinking and common sense! For instance, if you use access control, the controllers need to be located on the secure side of the door to lessen the risk of tampering. Surprisingly, we have actually seen some organisations making exactly this mistake - which is illogical to say the least!
Naturally, it is important that the design of any security system accurately meets the needs of the organisation using it. For example, you need to decide whether your system requires read-out and read-in or Egress-out, or if you need control hardening in the overall system.
Equally its vital to decide if you need ties from the access control system to other elements of the security system. This could be CCTV, intruder alarms or even HR systems such as databases, Time & Attendance systems, Payroll systems etc.
If you have these connections to other systems, you need to ensure they are all secure. This is not just securing the access control element, but a holistic view of the entire network as a whole.
5. Play your cards right
Access cards are a key part of many security regimes, so its vital that you consider what technology best suits your needs and requirements.
For example, if you are installing a new system and want to ensure you have the strongest security possible on a card-based system, you should look at MIFARE Sector cards rather than Serial cards. You could also consider MIFARE Plus or DESfire-enabled systems to reduce the ability of hackers to compromise your security, right from the outset.
Increased security need not break the bank either. It’s worth remembering too that there isn’t much difference in price between a standard proximity card and a MIFARE Plus or DESfire alternative.
If you need security at an even greater level of protection, then it is worth considering biometrics systems. This doesn’t have to be across the board, the organisation may just need these enhancements for certain areas or facilities.
Biometrics solutions are available at different levels too – from fingerprint scanners right through to finger vein readers, iris scanning and facial recognition, which are more secure, but also more expensive.
Finding the right solution
There are many options to enhance security and our advice to any organisation looking to evaluate and improve it is to speak to a good security consultant and system designer, to ensure all the basic elements of the system are all covered!