Security Magazine

“Going Virtual”: Evolving PSIM to Fight Cyber Crime

April 1, 2011

At the ISC West conference in 2009, I saw a great keynote speech delivered by Lt. General Kenneth Minihan, former Director of both the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the National Security Agency (NSA). Our intelligence agencies, based on their mission, identify global security trends several years ahead of the commercial markets. As he put it, “Regarding cybercrime and intellectual property theft, we are facing the most serious economic and national security challenge of the 21st century.” The General also made the point that the exhibitors on the floor had no idea about the seriousness of the threat, or the market opportunity it represents.

The fact is the physical security industry has done nothing since 2009 regarding combating cyber crime. McAfee, a security firm recently purchased by Intel Corporation, produced its 2010 annual security report and stated that the annual global revenues from cyber crime exceed $1 trillion. This involves everything from personal identity theft, stealing intellectual property and e-commerce fraud, to piracy of software and counterfeit goods. The threats are both internal and external to organizations.

Security manufacturers and integrators see the intelligent building market as an opportunity to attract business with cost effective and integrated environmental controls and security solutions traversing IP networks. The same strategy is deployed at critical infrastructures, transportation hubs and sports venues. How do we protect our intelligently connected buildings from network attackers? The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) recently released a report on cybersecurity that focused on critical infrastructure as its number two recommendation, stating the need to: Mandate better cybersecurity in Critical Infrastructure (CI), with specific emphasis placed upon the authentication of identity within CI. It is not difficult to hack video surveillance cameras, access control software, or customer databases and identity management systems. It is also not a secret that traditional crime is now going digital.

The ability to seamlessly integrate new solutions is the hallmark of the current PSIM concept. PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) must evolve and secure these critical networked solutions and counter cyber crime activity. A trillion dollar market need is here today. PSIM vendors have embraced convergence and understand that the future of the security industry is application integration delivered over the Web. Physical, as in perimeter protection, is just one critical aspect of the job. Our major defense contractors created C4ISR systems (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) to integrate our war fighting. These corporations, out of necessity, also had to protect themselves against cyber crime and espionage. This is the precedent that the PSIM industry must follow. It will involve partnering with cybersecurity players outside of traditional channels. Cybersecurity is the next phase of security convergence. Solutions enabling trusted identity (people and end points), keystroke-monitoring software, encrypted thumb drives and human behavioral and network analytics are all evolving security requirements. Education is also a huge need in a constantly evolving threat environment spanning technology breeches, social engineering threats and traditional insider theft.

More than ever, risk management today involves more machine to machine and sensor to human communications to secure operations. The technologies we utilize everyday, (facebook/mobile devices) are cloud based and delivered wirelessly. The “physical” boundaries have been broken. The reality is that the digital economy promotes crime, which increases our security responsibilities. The PSIM industry needs to go virtual and drop the “physical” only thinking and acronym. We need to monitor increasing cyber crime threats as part of our command and control responsibilities and integrate this capability into our security policy. If not, the physical security industry (PSIM vendors and integrators) risks losing a great opportunity to extend account control. It makes no sense to have a fully integrated platform commanding and controlling critical infrastructure security while simultaneously being totally vulnerable to network attacks and cyber criminals. The PSIM solution must evolve into a broader and virtual security solution platform. Cyber protection will be a competitive differentiator. Innovative software developers will see the opportunity and integrate security solutions to answer the cyber crime problem facing their customers and extend their offerings. Cybersecurity monitoring and consulting services will be positioned as a sales benefit. One PSIM vendor needs to (virtually) step up to the next level and lead.

Longer term, cybersecurity and cloud computing are the two “huge” trends changing the nature of the security industry. At their core both are about securing information and protecting a business that is IP enabled and under attack. Today PSIM offers no cyber crime defenses. Evolving the concept offers the best option for the security requirements of the 21st Century. Our nation’s critical infrastructure is vulnerable; our intellectual property at risk, and cyber crime is a one trillion dollar business. In 2011 we still ignore the cyber opportunity? The General is still right!