Poor cybersecurity is all too common today. Businesses large and small have been hacked, whether it’s been done to shut down systems, steal information or simply to disrupt operations. The reality is that a cybersecurity attack on a business can be costly — both from a dollar and cents perspective, as well as a public relations standpoint.It was just two years ago that an HVAC system served as the conduit for the 2014 cybersecurity hack at Target. In addition, there have been numerous documented cases of cybersecurity breaches through other devices, including security systems.
The reality is that any business with a network switch, NVR, surveillance camera or access control system connected to the network is vulnerable to an inside or outside attack unless they put some measures into place.
Within the security market, there is an ever-growing awareness about cybersecurity issues. Security professionals have extended their knowledge base beyond how to protect the perimeter of a building to include how to protect the digital perimeter.
Because of the interrelated nature of doing business, it’s imperative that both the security systems integrator and their customer be vigilant against cybersecurity breaches since a threat to one partner could in turn affect the other.
What are some steps to take to ensure you are providing the best cybersecurity measures?
Practice What You Preach
It’s one thing to put a client’s system through its paces by subjecting the client to risk analysis and audits, performing penetration tests and securing data through the installation of secure devices on servers. However, it’s another thing for the integrator to subscribe to their own advice.
Security integrators should perform due diligence on their own business network, which in turn translates into what can be done for their clients. Like customers, integrators should have internal policies, procedures and systems related to cybersecurity. Is an internal employee the point person for these issues or have they hired an expert? Having a highly trained IT-certified security professional on staff is important.
Install Smart Switches, Segment Networks
To protect the network and ensure that the security system does not become the gateway for a cyber breach, invest in smart switches for your networked devices, not unmanaged switches. A smart switch costs more but provides greater protection when implemented properly.
A smart switch differentiates between ports. When programmed correctly, smart switches only allow certain types of traffic to communicate with each other or a certain grouping of ports. Companies can ensure a more secure network by investing in technology that manages the communication between ports, logical segments and other switches.
Companies can also improve their network security by segmenting their networks, versus deploying a system on a flat network. With a segmented network, companies can lock down their HVAC system, for example, so it is located on its own VLAN (virtual local area network) then locate the security system on another VLAN. This enables the company to then institute access control rules between the two segments to make sure an attack vector cannot propagate itself across the entire network.
Paper Can Be the Problem
Not every problem is computer-related. Unsecured information on paper, such as passwords and sensitive information, is also open to theft and misuse. Integrators need to make sure they secure documents that can put passwords or business data into the wrong hands, both at their own place of business and also for their clients.
Currently in the spotlight are many forms of cybersecurity. When systems integrators and clients take a hard look at their cybersecurity measures, all parties should be assured that the systems they have deployed are as secure as possible.
Skip Sampson is the President of the Board of Directors of Security-Net, a network of independent security systems integrators. In addition, he is also the President of KST Security, an Indianapolis-based security systems integrator.