Being proactive when it comes to things like managing databases and firmware / software patches can reduce potential problems in the future.
In the days when locks and keys were the standard carriers for access control, performing routine maintenance was a relatively simple proposition. If a lock was defective or the keys needed to be replaced or made for new hires, a locksmith or custodian could simply replace the hardware or duplicate the necessary keys. However, times have changed, and so have the technologies that campuses use to keep students, patients, doctors, staff and teachers.
The introduction of electronic access control systems and the software platforms that administer them has brought many advantages. By leveraging credentials instead of keys, administrators and other officials in schools, universities and hospitals can not only control who exactly is in their buildings at any given time, but can also see when they arrived, to what areas they accessed while they were there. and when they left the premises. Of course, the ongoing maintenance that is needed for these systems goes beyond making sure that the door locks remain operational.
The proactive management of the database is critical
Perhaps the greatest need that all organizations have when it comes to maintaining their access control The management system is that of reliable IT support, either from internal staff or from a trusted systems integrator. In any case, those who have the responsibility of administering the access control system must place the administration of the database at the front and center of their agenda.
Ideally, each access control platform should have a feed database of some kind, such as a human resources management system, share data with it so that it is not necessary to create records within the physical access control system itself ( PACS) and to guarantee the information remains updated.
However, many times this is not the case, and this lack of synchronization means that the records are never deleted, the incorrect archiving of the history, the duplications of records, the spelling mistakes and the access privileges and restrictions are not updated for employees as their position changes within a hospital. , school district or school.
Despite the threat posed by disgruntled employees, it is not uncommon to find workers who have been laid off who still have an active credential and access privileges in an organization as a result of an interruption in communication between security and RR. H H. For many organizations, their idea of routine maintenance only applies to their PACS based on an absolute need, such as when a new employee needs to be added to the system or if someone should have a new printed ID card. That's why some companies only have around 5,000 employees on their payroll, but almost 40,000 are in their active directory.
Being proactive in the management of the database that powers your access control system is a critical step that could save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Apply patches and system updates
Second to perform routine database managment, it is essential that the campus apply the relevant firmware and software updates in a timely manner not only to their access control devices and administration platforms, but also in the general operating system (OS) they use. Often, when an integrator is hired to review a security system within a school, hospital or university, when they get into the details of the actual implementation, they realize that the computer systems of the end users are not They have updated in many years. You can not jump from an operating system like Windows 98 to Windows 10 with a simple patch.
In addition to facilitating a smooth transition to a new access control system, patching will also help schools minimize their exposure to cyber threats, which is an area of growing concern.
Last year's Equifax data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 140 million Americans was due to a web application vulnerability that had been fixed more than two months earlier. Not a week goes by when Microsoft and other operating system vendors publish software updates to address various vulnerabilities. Any maintenance contract concluded between a campus and a systems integrator must include a clause that covers the firmware and software updates and the identification of who is responsible for applying them.
You do not want something as simple as not updating or applying a patch to your access control system to be a means by which hackers can infiltrate your network or, worse, help criminals physically dodge your system. security. Increased cloud-based access control solutions and hosted services have allowed patches and software updates to be performed automatically without the participation of the end user or the integrator, but many organizations, including schools, have policies that prohibit keeping data out of the facilities. so it may not be the answer to protect campus environments.
Where to go for help
Due to budget constraints, many school districts and other types of campuses have a limited number of IT staff. Often, their resources are already reduced, as they are trying to keep the networks of the facilities for which they are responsible operating. That means that the task of keeping the PACS up to date could be put on the back burner, creating significant vulnerabilities. This is where security systems integrators can play a valuable role in helping to keep access control systems within the campus.
The most successful access control implementations are those in which there is a strong relationship between the end user, the integrator and the manufacturer of the hardware and software components of the system. In many cases, an integrator working on a campus project is responding to a bidding document and bidding on that project that is well defined. However, the definition of the project can only cover the installation of the system and not its administration, which can leave the organization responsible for the programming and configuration of the database. As noted above, this may not be an optimal situation considering the limited resources of many campuses.
In addition, a hospital, a university or a school may have a good idea of what they want to achieve with a new access control system, but they may not necessarily know the best way to do it. Having a manufacturer that is actively involved in projects should be a key consideration for campuses seeking to update their access control technology, as they can offer training courses to show them how a PACS solution can meet their diverse needs, as well as help them understand all its complexities. and the capabilities it can provide.
Almost any integrator can provide the necessary maintenance of the mechanical devices involved in the access implementations. However, not all of them can address some of the more subtle and continuous services that I have already mentioned. Some of the other maintenance steps you should cover with your integrating partner include:
- Establishment of standard naming conventions.. Having good descriptions of where physical devices are located within a facility and how they are named is critical.
- Have a standard template. Ensuring that all doors are similar and that systems are wired in a consistent manner is crucial. The use of a color code system is recommended.
- Avoid spelling errors. Humans make mistakes; It is a simple fact of life. However, it can be a cause for concern when it comes to assigning credentials and granting access privileges in a school, university or hospital.
This list is by no means exhaustive and I would recommend that you use the best practices that make sense for your application. However, applying these basic steps within your organization is a solid foundation on which to build future security projects.
Mitchell Kane is president of Vanderbilt Industries