Modernized touchless access control for improved safety and security

With the return to work on the horizon, contactless access control has become a hot topic. Post-pandemic, access control solutions will be expected to support a safe working environment along with continuing to provide secure access to physical spaces.

The main safety benefit of touchless access control is to minimize touch points, which will go a long way in helping stem the spread of infection. The good news is that beyond health benefits, modernized contactless access control also has security benefits. But according to a recent study by HID Global, a manufacturer of secure identity products and an IST technology partner, many organizations are having difficulty justifying the ROI of modernization.

The study gives us great feedback from security professionals in the field about their plans to upgrade access control. According to the survey, the biggest driver for upgrading is for workplace safety in the post-pandemic world. Other key drivers include better security and easier administration.

Aging Infrastructure is Eroding Confidence in Security
As expected, the survey indicates that there’s a hodgepodge of legacy technologies still being used for access control that have aged beyond their ability to protect against modern threats, and may or may not help stem the spread of infection. In 2017, more than 70 percent of organizations said their physical access control solution met or exceeded requirements. This year and last year, the percentage dropped to 50 percent.

As threats evolve, aging infrastructure is eroding confidence in security. More than a third of those surveyed are using 125-kHz low-frequency proximity cards, which are convenient and reliable but are limited in terms of security and privacy. Other organizations are using magnetic-stripe cards or barcodes, which are even less secure. Use of these technologies going forward exposes organizations to the risk of bad actors spoofing or cloning credentials, something that was perfected by the criminal community years ago.

What Security Professionals Want
Organizations are not only looking for improved workplace safety, they want modernized security and convenience for employees and visitors, which is why many organizations have installed or are considering touchless access control using mobile credentials stored on users’ smartphones.

Those surveyed also want easier administration and simplified processes. With cloud-based mobile access control, security teams can provision, customize and revoke credentials over the air quickly, and there’s no need to purchase and manage badges, cards and other credentials.

Security teams also like the advanced security features of modern touchless access control, including enhanced encryption and biometric solutions, which help eliminate credential spoofing and cloning. Modern systems also support new standards such as the Open Supervised Device Protocol or remote credential management.

Forty-one percent of those surveyed said the biggest obstacle to modernization is cost. But the cost of a security breach can easily exceed the cost of modernized access control, especially when measured in dollars and brand erosion. Yet, 22 percent said the lack of strong ROI was a primary obstacle to upgrading.

Justify the ROI
One way to justify the cost of upgrading is to better understand the full benefit of a modernized solution. Today’s touchless technologies do more than just open and close doors. Reducing common touch points is key to stemming the spread of infection. Streamlined administration saves money and gives security professionals more time for other activities. And real-time building occupancy data helps enforce social distancing and contact tracing in the event of an infection.

Last but not least, modernized touchless access control solutions can go a long way in restoring confidence in security and safety. How much is that worth?

Rely on a Trusted Partner
While security budgets will continue to be tight, communicating the full value of a modern touchless access control solution to executives is key to motivating action. If you need help, IST is here for you. We can help assess your current environment and recommend ways to upgrade to meet today’s safety and security challenges, and even help you build a case to justify ROI to executives. We may also be able to upgrade your access control using some or all of your current installed infrastructure. It may not be as expensive as you think, and with cloud-based solutions that reduce maintenance costs and can provide a basis for automating processes, you may get more than you bargained for.

SIA 2019 Security Megatrends 9 & 10 – What You Need To Know

This post wraps up our series that took a deeper dive into SIA’s comprehensive 2019 Security Megatrends report. Megatrends 9 & 10 both bring the future home with high technology devices that will allows us even greater security, both in our homes and offices.

Megatrend 9: Going Biometric for Access Control
We are on the edge of the tipping point with biometric access control. Voice recognition and sound are increasingly integrated into physical security. The residential market is embracing this change, and the commercial market will soon follow.

Going biometric for access control brings with it the same questions that the IoT, AI and other new technologies pose: how do you effectively balance security with privacy and convenience? For the residential consumer, ease of use continues to outweigh concerns about security. On the commercial side, the perspective shifts, as security safeguards are put in place to achieve compliance, meet regulations and follow standards. Convenience often falls by the wayside. A balance must be struck.

The good news is that biometrics are becoming more reliable and cost-effective. For years, smart phones have unlocked through facial recognition. And since everyone likes to keep their phones on them at all times, the smartphone has the potential to be the credential of choice, a virtual certificate identifying who you are.

Smarter Smart Phones
Smart phones have a number of advantages for seamless “frictionless access control,” free-flowing, yet secure access to a space. This system is almost instant. It requires little interaction and doesn’t interfere with users unnecessarily. It also negates the need for tokens like badges and PIN numbers. Biometrics, radio frequency and Bluetooth technology can all be frictionless. However, this type of access also opens up cybersecurity concerns; if your phone is compromised for instance, your entire identity can be at risk.

Recent facial recognition improvements may make this a reality sooner than we think. One survey respondent noted that “A single digital identity that transcends logical and physical environments via sensor fusion (software that intelligently combines data from several sensors for the purpose of improving application or system performance) may emerge. It’s not a question of if anymore, it’s just a question of when biometric access control becomes our credential of choice.

Megatrend 10: 3 Ways DIY is Revolutionizing the Security Space
In the last megatrend of the report, change in the physical security space continues at unimaginable speeds. Consumer electronics companies are taking the physical security industry by storm by introducing new DIY systems into the residential market. Not only are consumers more aware of the technology, but big names like Amazon make them more comfortable jumping into their own DIY security systems.

The Move to DIY
Consumers usually start by implementing video and then grow their network from there. They often choose to forgo professional monitoring, choosing to do that DIY too. As Amazon expands with its purchase of the Ring Protect system and acquisition of Blink, which produces wireless cameras, this market will continue to expand. In 2016, Statista research recorded $107.1 billion spent in the U.S., which is the largest consumer electronics market on the planet, especially when it comes to connected smart devices. Convergence is the largest trend in the country in this regard, as more connected devices and telematics in the IoT come onto the scene.

When asked how much of an impact the consumer technology giants will have on the industry’s bottom line in residential market, most SIA surveyed respondents agree that this trend will change the security market significantly.

Who will win this high stakes competition? Big companies with the infrastructure already in place, like Amazon and Google, are poised to claim the largest market share. Consumers already rely on their smart speakers and voice control devices, Alexa and Google Home; these will become the main points of entry into their homes and serve as the main interface with the residents.

As Mike O’Neal, President of Nortek Security & Control, explains, “This isn’t a space anymore for small companies to dominate the industry. We have huge players with large infrastructures who have the ability to invest in technology and change the models. Comcast’s Xfinity Home is a disruptor having a major impact on the smaller companies.”

Here are three ways that this DIY trend is revolutionizing the security space:

  1. Opening Up Opportunities: ADT and Amazon have a strategic partnership that integrates the new Alexa Guard feature with ADT Pulse’s security system. Alexa can listen for breaking glass and smoke or carbon monoxide alarms and alert ADT.
  2. Providing a Disruption or an Opportunity: This DIY change is viewed two ways. Many see the opportunity for the subscriber to gain more valued services or a new level of service, while others feel that this rapid change may be hard to manage and the industry may not be able to keep up effectively.
  3. Delivering Disruption: Since smart phones are such easy interfaces, early adopters rely on them to check on their pets and kids, monitor their homes and even provide remote caregiver services. They’re not thinking about handing these tasks over to professional security experts. However, as the population ages, they may leverage professionals for connected health services and personal emergency responses.

Both biometrics and DIY security devices continue to shake up the industry and create a large paradigm shift. Both will have us relying on our ever-present, indispensable smart phones even more. As the year unfolds, it will be interesting to note how this plays out. Will smart phones be our sole credential? Will physical security move fully to a Google/Amazon DIY model, or even a new one? And how will the current security market adapt to these changes and continue to thrive?

We’ll check back later in the year and let you know.

This completes our dive into the SIA 2019 Security Megatrends report. We’ll continue to monitor these trends throughout the year as they play out in real time. If you have any questions about how they affect your business, please let us know!