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Securing Security Equipment

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Securing security equipment is a concept that is seldom discussed, yet has significant impact on the quality of a security design. Most people discuss the importance of securing entry/exit points, critical assets, and other areas of interest, but seldom provide details of how the actual security equipment will be protected from those not authorized to access it.

Securing security equipment seems to be an intuitive concept. It clearly should be a critical detail in any security system design that could not possibly be overlooked. However, the evidences of people forgetting to secure the security equipment are numerous.  Securing security equipment sometimes requires longer cable runs, an extra access control door, additional surveillance cameras, or extra alarm zones, but the additional resources should be allocated to protect the central most important pieces of the security systems.

Securing security equipment is imperative. The backend hardware runs the security systems.  If that equipment is not secure, then unauthorized users, either intentionally or by accident, can damage, modify, or destroy the center of all the security systems.  Whether it is the digital video recorders for the surveillance system, the access control panel, the alarm panel, or any other centralized intelligence center that manages the technical security operations, proper security should be deployed to ensure that these devices are only accessed by authorized individuals.

I was invited to perform a vulnerability assessment at a large financial institution some time ago.  I approached the assessment with some standard outside-in processes that I often used when analyzing security layers in high security facilities overseas when I was an Officer in the Diplomatic Security Service.  It was brought to my attention prior to my arrival that the facility had an intrusion detection system installed and monitored by a large, nationwide company, some access controls, and a video surveillance system with an antiquated digital video recorder.  The client asked me to determine the “security holes” that needed to be filled and the existing equipment that needed to be upgraded.

The front public entrance was comprised of 2 sets of glass doors divided by a vestibule.  I immediately noticed that the outer doors did not have door contacts, access controls, or other security hardware so I assumed that the secure perimeter began at the inner doors.  Prior to opening the interior doors, I entered a closet door in the side of the vestibule.  To my surprise, the facility alarm panel was staring at me the moment I opened the door.  To make matters worse, the panel had no tamper alarm installed.  Upon opening the panel, it became apparent that the end of line resistors where also installed at the panel rather than in their intended location.  As a result, I demonstrated how fast and easy it is to bypass the entire intrusion (alarm) system without even entering a single secure door.

Gaining access to the central security equipment is desirable to most intelligent criminals and susceptible to theft, vandalism, or other forms of manipulation when not properly secured.  Teams of experts, like those at Orion Security Solutions, are available to provide guidance when designing a security system to ensure all aspects of the system are considered, including securing the security equipment.

Don’t forget to check in with The O next week as we discuss other technical security aspects.

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Sean Crain is founder and CEO of Orion Security Solutions (OSS). Prior to starting OSS, Sean spent over eight years with the U.S. Department of State as a Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Officer working in nearly 40 countries on 6 continents around the world including Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Switzerland, Indonesia, Australia, Cambodia, Austria, Germany, Poland, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Brazil, Peru, and Columbia.

He received advanced training in the techniques and methodologies of counter intelligence and anti-terrorism in order to carry out responsibilities which included designing, installing, and maintaining state-of-the-art security solutions to protect national security information, U.S Embassies and other sensitive U.S. facilities, and diplomatic personnel, including U.S. Presidents and Secretaries of State. Sean was also called upon to design and implement security protocols and systems which included video surveillance, intruder detection, access controls, locks, perimeter security, and assessments. He also played an integral role in writing the U.S. Department of State security policies for post communications centers, controlled access areas, and building management systems in U.S. Embassies, U.S. Consulates, and inter-agency facilities worldwide.