cybersecurity

Cybersecurity for Companies with VMS Solutions

Cybersecurity is a growing concern for companies in all sectors, Security market included. However robust your security systems are, Human Resources, namely security operators and maintenance staff, play a crucial role in their integrity.
Reduce the chances of your VMS infrastructure suffering a cyber attack by adopting a few precautions and best practices.

Simple Practices for companies with VMS solutions:

  • Restrict physical and network access to video surveillance cameras, video recorders and video servers to whom it is strictly necessary;
  • Always change the default passwords of all electronic devices, namely IP cameras and other security equipment;
  • Ensure that VMS operators log in to the VMS when then start their shift and log out when they end it;
  • VMS login accounts should be personal (i.e., not shared between the security team) and login passwords periodically changed;
  • Encourage the adoption of randomly generated passwords for all security equipment including your VMS;
  • Your VMS should be keeping a timestamped log of all user access and user operations: know how to access it;
  • Restrict access on your VMS workstations to USB external disks and drives, DVD recorders, Remote Desktop tools and any other way that would be an open door for third-parties to access your VMS;
  • Never connect CCTV and/or VMS components to the Internet: remote access should be provided to whom it is strictly necessary and always over secure connections, like for example VPN tunnels;

Finally:

  • Enforce these practices and ensure your team knows them;
  • Include periodic cybersecurity audits in your maintenance plans.

University campuses: how to strike a balance between a relaxed atmosphere and efficient security

Security at universities is not as publicised as security at banks and casinos, which are so often attacked in Hollywood films, but the challenges it raises are also considerably complex. Security mechanisms at educational institutions, where the future of the country is formed, are of vital importance.

International recognition of the quality of our universities has gone much further than the old Oxford–Cambridge rivalry, and dozens of institutions appear in rankings of the best universities in the world year after year. Currently, more than half of students at the prestigious Imperial College London come from abroad, which demonstrates its international recognition.

Training the most qualified professionals in the world is a task for the classroom, but universities consist of many other areas within these education buildings such as halls of accommodation and outdoor spaces. Security cannot be overlooked in any of these places because there are diverse physical and psychological threats, including thefts, muggings, vandalism and assaults on students and members of staff.

A recent survey of roughly 2,000 people on university campuses in the United Kingdom showed that 64% of students say they leave valuables like wallets and electronic devices out of sight. Almost half (48%) of those who stay at halls of residence admitted that they do not lock the main door to the building before going to sleep, even if they arrive back late.

A little caution and responsibility would not do these students any harm, but enhancing security at universities is, of course, not their job. The only moments of tension experienced by students during their academic life should be due to demanding exams or tight work deadlines, not incidents caused by lack of security.

Counterbalancing the relaxed lifestyle on university campuses, which no-one wants to see change, is up to security mechanisms and systems like AGORA.

 

Intelligent workflow that streamlines solutions

To overcome universities’ security challenges, AGORA software includes solutions that can be adjusted to the different areas found on a campus, whether they are classrooms, laboratories, libraries, dining areas, sports facilities, halls of residents or others. The software’s multifunctionality is the result of a series of procedures that are defined to meet user needs.

This makes day-to-day life in control rooms less hectic, precisely as a result of implementing those procedures. Whenever the security system warns of an event, AGORA shows the operator the most efficient procedure to follow, thanks to it’s intelligent workflow.

An essential tool for dealing with exceptions to the everyday routine, such as delivering keys or cleaning services, is provided by AGORA’s on-demand alarms. These alarms establish procedures to streamline the resolution of situations that, although common in everyday life at universities, pose problems for inflexible security systems.

More and more universities throughout the United Kingdom request a service to escort people. AGORA also provides that service, which is so important for people leaving the university late, at times when there are few people present, which is the case for post-graduate students and members of staff.

As soon as an emergency is identified, the system shows the operator how to respond. If the procedure to follow involves calling law enforcement, the relevant contact details are displayed immediately. Response times to events are therefore reduced.

In short, AGORA Intelligent Workflow enables more effective, quicker and less costly security compared to increasing the number of night guards patrolling the campus every night.

As well as keeping students and staff safer, operators also appreciate AGORA solutions, particularly the automatic, digital activity reports it generates, which frees them from having to spend a large amount of time recording data in Excel tables.

 

Centralising information, managing based on collected data

AGORA does not live by procedures alone, it also stands out by automatically selecting the most suitable camera for evaluating a certain event, however far away it’s happening. If operators receive better information, it is possible to drastically reduce the number of false alarms, a situation that causes disturbances as well as unnecessary costs.

With ubiquitous control from a central point, there is no need for multiple control centres spread around the campus. All the data collected by cameras and sensors is channelled into the same place, which is also, of course, good news for university budgets.

The data collected by the system also makes it possible to improve operations by using Business Intelligence tools. AGORA provides security directors at universities with activity reports, which are essential to achieving the best possible management of resources, in terms of distributing security staff and security equipment such as cameras and sensors.

Analysing this data can be particularly important when, for example, students leave to give way to other kinds of visitors at the dozens of halls of residence that become tourist accommodation in the summer.

It is clear that there are many reasons for AGORA to be offered a place at universities in the United Kingdom. Resources are optimised, costs that weigh on budgets are reduced and, most importantly of all, the balance between efficient security and the relaxed atmosphere usually enjoyed on university campuses remains.

Procedures: the Route to Security

However much is invested in security technology, critical decisions are still made by the operator. Installing software that checks compliance with procedures reduces human error when responding to both routine and emergency events.

Universal compliance with civic rules would be synonymous with security. In a utopia where all citizens would meet rules of ethics followed by the entire planet, video surveillance cameras and access control sensors wouldn’t be needed, and neither would the professions involved in protecting people and assets from wrongdoing perpetrated by others. In the world we know, which has little in common with that utopia, following procedures is the most direct route to achieving security.
Companies and organisations in most sectors aim to constantly improve their products and services so that they can offer the best quality possible to their customers and clients. In attempting to meet that objective, it is essential that all members of staff are aligned with the defined strategy and follow the same procedures.
In this environment, there are more and more companies interested in tools to control processes and in adopting Standard Operating Procedures, a management concept that is often referred to using the acronym SOP.
SOPs are designed to produce desirable results for every task by using standardised operating mechanisms and processes. In the security sector, they are the simplest and safest way for security professionals to carry out their duties when faced with an everyday event or an unforeseen emergency.
The right choice of security management software program can visibly reduce response times in any situation. AGORA therefore implements and makes it possible to audit the company/organisation’s security SOPs, enabling operators to make better decisions in a shorter space of time, however much the demands of an unexpected situation encourage them to lose their cool head.

 

Software that guides operators

One of the key characteristics of AGORA, as a piece of software for organisations’ security systems and electronic protection, is the fact that it guides operators through all their tasks step by step, from those that are repeated every day to unexpected tasks such as during emergencies.
Standardising procedures offers an invaluable range of advantages that have an impact on different groups of people: Operators increase precision and speed in their response to events, which logically helps increase the well-being of staff and visitors at the organisation involved; heads of security can prove to the client company’s management that the procedures established in advance are being met because AGORA creates reports including data that proves it.
AGORA allows security companies to adapt their services to each customer’s needs, however different the sector they operate in may be. The procedures adopted by a school or a hospital may be very different from those needed to operate security at a bank or shopping centre, but all of them fit into this system.
Personalising procedures means the client can see their organisation protected by services such as remote surveillance tours, supervised access control and alarm video verification. This multifunctionality is clear in AGORA’s Operator Guide, the panel on which the operator receives the SOPs.

 

How to set effective SOPs

Preparation of SOPs should ideally be dealt with by heads of security, since they are the ones who have an overall view of operations, legislation and other factors. Heads of security should ensure that all operators are trained to carry out their tasks so that there are no variations in working methods between shifts.
SOPs should be easy to understand by operators so they can become familiarised with all the steps to follow. So, even when there are new faces in charge of security or a new security company, effective responses are properly protected.
As well as routine indications, the procedures established in advance should cover the largest number of scenarios possible for any unexpected event so as not to compromise security.

 

Reducing error in critical decisions

Drawing up SOPs is a process that cannot be entirely copied, since every organisation has its own particular features and the procedures should be adapted to them. Poorly defined or imprecise SOPs not only reduce productivity and lead to operations failures but may place people and assets at risk.
The adaptation of procedures accelerates responses to routine events and reduces the likelihood of human error when reacting to an emergency. It also reduces costs arising from possible fines or penalties applied for not complying with legislation, as well as insurance costs.
However much is invested in technology, critical decisions are made by the operator. Installing software that ensures auditable procedures are implemented is the most direct route to achieving security.