Lessons Learned from 2020 & Best Practices for 2021

While everyone is happy to put 2020 in the rearview mirror, the year’s challenges were a learning experience, particularly when it came to securing people, property and data. Lessons learned from 2020 will be extremely valuable this year and beyond, with the expectation that our data can be more secure and our employees can be safer.

Here is a look back at lessons learned in 2020 and what we think are the most important priorities for 2021:

Securing Data: Remote Work
Perhaps the biggest immediate challenge for organizations at the outset of the pandemic was adjusting to the new reality of remote work. Nearly overnight, employees transitioned from commuting to working from home. And also nearly overnight, the hacking industry followed up with a massive influx of activity aimed directly at accessing your valuable data or otherwise compromising computer systems.

The first trick was to enable remote work as a technical capability for employees. But in the rush to get workers productive, data security concerns were often bypassed. For hackers, this is low-hanging fruit begging to be picked.

Examples include ransomware attacks where systems are compromised until a ransom is paid. And highly sophisticated spear phishing attacks designed to trick the most savvy computer users into divulging sensitive information. In any case, you can count on endless creativity from the hacking community to find new ways to complicate your life.

LESSON LEARNED: Unsecured remote connections are dangerous. When enabling a new capability like remote access, it’s imperative to take the time and effort to understand how any change will affect data security, to select tools that fit your data security needs and to configure security tools to be effective in your environment. Because if you get hacked, you’ll spend a lot more time and money recovering your data or restoring your systems.

Securing People: Workplace Safety 
Temperature Screening
Remote work is now the default working arrangement for many organizations and employees. But there will always be a need for some workers and outsiders to visit your site. And as we graduate from lockdowns, the expectation is that more people will be returning to work. The ability for companies to ensure workplace safety is next on the list of post-pandemic priorities.

The first line of defense is simply to tell employees to stay home if they’re ill. But not everyone does that. Organizations are looking for ways to ensure workplace safety by screening employees and visitors at the front door in a way that doesn’t impede the flow of people or productivity.

There are many types of temperature screening systems with more solutions on the way. But choosing a solution from the plethora of choices can be daunting. The last thing you want to do is invest in a solution that’s not appropriate to the need.

LESSON LEARNED: The key is to match the right technology with your specific use cases and environment. IST suggests getting advice from an experienced security systems integrator that can review your needs and your currently installed technology, and help you come up with the best solution.

Contactless Access Control
Door handles and buttons are your building’s most common touch points. Perhaps the simplest way to stem the spread of infection from commonly touched surfaces is to use antimicrobial coatings for door handles and buttons. While this may be effective, not everyone will trust it.

You can take access control a step further by automating it, and in the process, reduce the number of touch points. Contactless access control has been around for a long time and includes intercom systems and doors that open automatically. New technology can make the technology more effective and easier to use.

There are several methods for automating entry. For example, doors can be actuated with mobile credentials installed on an employee’s smartphone. Or you can use biometrics such as facial recognition. (As you can imagine, using a fingerprint as a biometric is losing popularity.)

To further enhance workplace safety, some solutions provide tools for security and building management personnel to centrally manage access to track and manage the flow of people, giving them the ability to make access decisions in real time.

LESSON LEARNED: Many organizations already use some sort of technology for access control. Organizations can build on what they already own and use to help create a safer environment.

Securing Property: Authorized Access
Facial recognition technology, video analytics and high-definition cameras and monitors are a potent combination to ensure that only authorized individuals get access to your property or sensitive areas of your building. These technologies also provide the added benefit of monitoring mask compliance and building or room occupancy.

LESSON LEARNED: Facial recognition has been controversial. But studies show that nearly 70 percent of people trust the technology for workplace safety. Moving forward, ensuring privacy of facial recognition data will become a trending priority.

Hosted and Managed Solutions: Integrating Security Systems for Success
Adding new technology to improve security and support a healthy workplace is an important step to take. But new features can come with added complexity. Every new feature needs to be managed and supported somehow. If your underlying security system infrastructure and tools are outdated, and if you’re already experiencing downtime with your security systems, adding new features may also add management and support headaches.

Modernizing infrastructure and tools with cloud-based hosted and managed services can improve overall system reliability and make it easier to add new capabilities. By outsourcing infrastructure and services, you can simplify for easier management.