Convergence: Leap and the Net Will Appear
“With enterprise risk, you have to build all the security disciplines into it,” says Ray O’Hara. Still, Bill Crowell admits that we all are “off to a slow start.” He does see emergence – one day – of a whole new profession that will bring together physical and logical security. “Specializing in one and ignoring the other is not satisfying,” Crowell understates. On Joey Sudomir’s wish list is “a more natural convergence. The change bringing newer types of physical security such as IP video to IT’s common, standardized infrastructure is a positive step.”
The ability to work together – whatever name you call it or reputation it has – is a forever business concept.
Sharing Similar Work-A-Day TermsToday, for instance, there’s already a sharing of terms. Intrusion detection means something similar to both physical and computer security professionals. And a firewall is just a door control, kind of. For physical security and life safety, it’s a physical barrier inside a building, designed to limit the spread of a threat. In computing, it’s a technological barrier designed to prevent unauthorized or unwanted communications – a threat – between sections of a network.
Things get decidedly dicey or opportunist – depending on that half glass of water thing – when getting around to identity management. A convergence hurdle, “It’s slowing progress but also is a fundamental place where both [physical and logical security] converge. It has been plagued with a large number of solutions aimed at one or the other. Smart cards? Combining a smart card with a proximity card in a single credential is a solution. But there are business problems such as the potential need for readers on every desk and in every laptop,” says Crowell, coauthor of Physical and Logical Security Convergence: Powered by Enterprise Security Management, with Brian Contos, Colby Derodeff and Dan Dunkel.
“What we are looking for is a more fundamental credential,” points out Crowell, who now specializes in information technology, security and intelligence systems. He is former chairman of Broadware Technologies and former CEO of computer security pioneer Cylink Corporation, acquired by SafeNet after partial ownership of it was spun off by Honeywell Corporation during its acquisition of Pittway, the latter then a major physical security and distribution player.
There’s Silo ShiftingSudomir, vice president, information technology, for Texas Health Partners, says that there is “slowly starting to be a shift mainly from a system perspective. Silos? You can converge today with disparate systems. But, in order for change to be most effective and natural, the players must come out of their silos and adopt shared standards.”
Just as reengineering had its obvious business benefits during its hay-day, convergence does, too.
Open Architecture Opens DoorsWrite that grand scheme as open architecture, which allows systems to be connected easily to devices and programs made by other manufacturers. Open architectures use off-shelf components and conform to approved standards, already IT’s mantra. A system with a closed architecture, on the other hand, is one whose design is proprietary, making it difficult to connect the system to other systems. No doubt, physical security systems are more open than ever, but convergence enlarges that openness.
Of course, whatever the benefits and drivers, there is always cost to contend with.
Pathways can include:
• Collaboration over specific projects
• Use of convergence savvy integrators
• The network and infrastructure factor
• The IP security video factor
• Continued consolidations in the physical and IT industries
• Cyber crime added to the mix
Let’s look at the pathways in more detail.
Collaboration over Specific ProjectsParticular projects with manageable, limited scope can be steps along the convergence path. How do physical security system such as electronic access control and security video fit into the logical security arena? Look at emerging elements such as remote video monitoring and video on demand, in addition to potential projects that center on building management.
Use of Convergence-Savvy IntegratorsTraditional security system integrators in significant numbers are seeing business in convergence projects. Many already have bulked up with computer and communications expertise to handle IP security video and staff members boast Microsoft and Cisco certifications.
When these integrators work with enterprise security executives, there most often is involvement from in-house IT, too. Still, “the best applications and providers win out. But you will also see influence from the Ciscos and IBMs for platform functionality,” advises Snyder.
The Network and Infrastructure FactorWhat’s going for IT is that they can own the enterprise and government networks, in addition to having large and ongoing budgets and inherent support from the C-Suite.
But if we all work together, that’s good. Work that is silo-ed is just wasting energy and time, adds Jacobs. On the logical security side, some solutions may be similar but different enough that there is a waste of time pursuing a converged answer, he adds.
The IP Security Video FactorThe attraction and growth of IP-based security video – from cameras at the edge, encoders, storage, transmission to command and control – are obviously bringing physical security and IT operations closer.
Continued Consolidation in Physical, ITThe bouncing ball of Cylink may indicate convergence will be driven from the vendors on down the chain. Physical security manufacturers continue to acquire each other, as also happens on the logical side. Acquisition blending is sure to follow and “one stop shopping” is a powerful attraction for busy end user buyers who have the bucks to purchase direct and for integrators and VARs broadening their offerings without broadening their vendor partners.
Cyber Crime Added to the MixCyber crime policies must integrated with ongoing convergence efforts, advises Dan Dunkel, president, New Era Associates, which targets physical security and IT convergence, and a contributing writer for Security magazine and Today’s System Integrator. “Today security professionals are facing cyber crime on an unprecedented level as hackers, global organized crime syndicates, and nation state actors threaten our national security and the global economy,” Dunkel says.
Dan Dunkel On: Cyber Security ConvergenceSometimes the world changes right in front of our eyes and yet we fail to make the connection until years down the road. The United States is largely responsible for two of the “macro” trends impacting the world today. Information technology, our first “macro” trend, in the form of Silicon Valley innovations, is responsible for the evolution of the second “macro” trend, globalization.
Unfortunately, the software industry grew to power the American high technology engine with a blind eye toward security concerns, to our collective detriment. During the late 1990s’ tech wreck, the deployment of fiber optic networks at pennies on the dollar wired the world allowing mobility and social networking to exacerbate this security problem and today we find our digitally connected world at serious risk.
There simply is no alternative. Cyber policy must be integrated with ongoing convergence efforts. We have entered a new era of security risk.