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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Monitoring Association (TMA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA) are calling out Google on its recent statement — “security systems often use microphones” — noting that such statements “misrepresent the vast majority of today’s residential security systems installed throughout the country.”

The dispute follows recent reporting by Business Insider, CNN Business and many other publications that have highlighted the undisclosed, on-board microphone discovered in Google’s Nest Guard Security Device — raising serious privacy concerns among consumers.

Since audio recording includes privacy and legal complexities, it’s not extremely common in residential installations, the associations noted, pointing out that security professionals and integrators consult with customers and ensure all federal and state laws are abided by.

“Adding audio surveillance can certainly make for a more robust system,” ESA President Chris Mosley said in a prepared statement. “We’re seeing exciting advancements in the audio surveillance category, such as acoustic sensors and microphones that can help us detect gunfire or when voices become elevated that could indicate potential violence. However, sweeping statements to infer that residential systems commonly have this feature are simply not accurate.”

Richard Brent, CEO, Louroe Electronics, an ESA Member company and 40-year-old manufacturer of audio-based technologies, agrees, noting, “Sound-based technology in security systems is common in law enforcement, institutional, and smart city installations. However, the use of microphones for surveillance in residences is extremely rare on account of heightened expectations of privacy.”

According to both associations, adding microphones and audio capabilities to security systems adds another level of precaution that must be taken to install the system in a way that protects the privacy of the consumer.

“Security systems are now an important part of the customer home experience in that we can integrate with audio assistance,” TMA President Ivan Spector said. “However professionally installed and monitored security systems are not designed to record data and conversations unbeknownst to our customers.”

Professionally installed systems have the backing of technology experts who know the full capability of the system and its components and can appropriately safeguard these systems, so as not to compromise privacy.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

TechSec Solutions, which wrapped up this week here in Delray Beach, Fla., brought together thought leaders from across all areas of the security industry to discuss the current state of the industry, key trends and technologies impacting and shaping security, and what the more successful companies are doing to stay relevant and profitable.

PSA’s Bill Bozeman … SIA’s Don Erickson … Securitas’ Jim Henry … ESIConvergent’s Pierre Bourgeix … DICE Corp’s Cliff Dice — the list of speakers at this year’s event represented the who’s who of security. Together with many other great speakers they provided a stellar day and a half of learning and networking. Moving outside the education room, attendees were able to check out some of the newest technology and services from this year’s sponsors, which included DICE Corp., Hikvision, ISC West, Lifesafety Power, Secure Utility and simPRO.

In addition to the incredible lineup of speakers and sponsors, the “20 under 40” award reception on the evening of day one provided a great capper to a tremendous day that included an “Integrator State of the Union” from Bozeman, a killer session from Bourgeix that featured Peter Rung from NCODED Communications and Samuel Trotman from KLJ, a consulting firm. Gretchen Gordon from Braveheart Sales Performance was another highlight on day one, as she tackled one of the greatest challenges for everyone in security today — finding, hiring, training AND retaining good people.

Day Two started with the highly anticipated Security Mega Panel featuring Bozeman, Erickson, ESA CEO Merlin Guilbeau and Michael Gips from ASIS International. The session exceeded expectations, as this group that has more than 100 combined years of experience in the industry riffed on the key issues, challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.

The second day also featured former “20 under 40” winner Rob Simopoulos, co-founder of Defendify, whose presentation on the importance of cybersecurity struck a nice balance between showing the audience the real threats that are out there (and many times in a humorous way), while providing tangible solutions and strategies to build a better “cyber posture.”

Closing out the conference was the session, Protecting Critical Infrastructure, which featured two of this year’s “20 under 40” end user winners — Colby Meshey, Deputy Director, Security Services, Pentagon Force Protection Agency and Kevin Didden, Senior Manager, Security Programs and Administration, MTA Bridges and Tunnels — as well as Meshey’s colleague James Ell, Electronic Security Services Branch Chief, Pentagon Force Protection Agency, and Joe Morgan, Business Development Manager for Critical Infrastructure, Axis Communications. Moderator Mike Lavway, Senior Manager, Enterprise Security Risk Group (eSRG), Aronson Security Group (ASG), was able to cover a lot of ground with this talented group, looking at specific examples from each on how they are using new technologies and strategies to improve security.

Many of the conversations sparked within the sessions spilled out into the exhibit room and lunches, and audience participation added some great energy to the sessions and discussions.

Getting back to the “20 under 40” reception. The fun-filled event, which was sponsored by SIA, brought 10 of our winners together by the pool to receive their award in person, network with their peers and celebrate a well-earned recognition as one of the rising stars in the industry.

Speaking of “rising stars,” SIA sponsored the event because they understand how important it is to recognize and support young professionals in the industry as they become the thought leaders of tomorrow. SIA’s RISE program does just that and there is great synergy between the “20 under 40” and RISE program’s goals. SIA also just announced its AcceleRISE conference, which is Aug. 16-18 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Keep checking back to the website for more coverage from TechSec 2019 — including some live video footage from sessions — as well as more information on the big announcement that Cloud+ will be joining TechSec Solutions in early 2020! Stay tuned for more exciting news about that two great shows finally coming together.

 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The success of smart home assistants such as Amazon Alexa has spurred the growth of smart speakers within the home, as voice control in the home seems to be a trend that is not going away any time soon.

In fact, the adoption of these devices increased by 800 percent from 2016 to 2018, reaching nearly one-third of U.S. broadband households by the end of 2018, according to research by Parks Associates.

In the firm’s “Strategies for Integrating Voice in the Smart Home,” report, it estimates U.S. households will buy more than 64 million smart speakers with voice assistants in 2022. The research profiles key technology partners that can help companies integrate voice and evaluates different strategies for implementation.

“Voice is emerging as a key complement to smart home device adoption and ownership, as it provides a simple method of interaction and creates opportunities for a centralized user interface and interoperability among multiple devices,” Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates, said in the announcement. “The next step will be integration of voice among multiple device categories, which will help to alleviate smart home fragmentation.”

Use of voice in conjunction with smart home devices is increasing. The report finds 21 percent of smart homeowners have used voice to turn their devices on/off, while 18 percent have used voice to check a device’s status. With voice popularity and use cases expanding, device makers and service providers are looking to capitalize on the current market opportunity by integrating a voice experience with their current offerings. The first decision a company must make before doing so is to decide whether to create its own proprietary solution or to integrate with a readily available  solution.

“Major tech giants have entered the voice-first market providing companies with the opportunity to leverage their voice-based solutions, with Amazon and Google leading the market,” Abdelrazik said. “They have made it easier for companies to enable voice-based solutions while creating competition for consumer mindshare, with Apple, Samsung and Harman Kardon promoting their own solutions in an increasingly crowded market. This diversity gives companies more choices when considering partnerships or whether to develop their own proprietary in-house solution.”

Parks Associates will host CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference on May 21-23, 2019, in San Francisco, where analysts and IoT executives will examine the impact of voice along with other solutions in shaping demand, adoption, and new business strategies within the smart home  ecosystem.

Further validating the growth of smart speakers, IHS Markit recently released its report on this growing trend.
 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

You don’t have to look too hard to find a sobering example of cybercrime, as it's as pervasive as ever these days, even on the national level with recent reports that cyber criminals have access to critical infrastructure such as our national power grids and gas lines. The good news, though, is technology may be our best weapon against these invisible criminals.

In fact, the use of big data and blockchain technologies are key to fighting cybercrime, according to a new study from Frost & Sullivan that looks at how effective machine learning is in aiding early detection of cyber anomalies, and how good blockchain is at creating a trustworthy network between endpoints.

Frost and Sullivan noted that the rise of the Internet of Things has opened up numerous points of vulnerabilities, compelling cybersecurity companies, especially startups, to develop innovative solutions to protect enterprises from emerging threats. As cybercrime becomes more sophisticated and even a method of warfare, the research firm found, technologies such as machine learning, big data, and blockchain will become prominent.

"Deploying Big Data solutions is essential for companies to expand the scope of cybersecurity solutions beyond detection and mitigation of threats,” Hiten Shah, research analyst, TechVision, said in the announcement of the findings. "This technology can proactively predict breaches before they happen, as well as uncover patterns from past incidents to support policy decisions."

The study, Envisioning the Next-Generation Cybersecurity Practices, presents an overview of cybersecurity in enterprises and analyzes the drivers and challenges to the adoption of best practices in cybersecurity. It also covers the technologies impacting the future of cybersecurity and the main purchase factors.

"Startups need to make their products integrable with existing products and solutions as well as bundle their solutions with market-leading solutions from well-established companies," noted Shah. "Such collaborations will lead to mergers and acquisitions, ultimately enabling companies to provide more advanced solutions."

Technologies that are likely to find the most application opportunities include:

•    Big Data: It enables automated risk management and predictive analytics. Its  adoption will be mostly driven by the need to identify usage and behavioral patterns to help security operations spot anomalies.
•    Machine Learning: It allows security teams to prioritize corrective actions and automate real-time analysis of multiple variables. Using the vast pools of data collected by companies, machine-learning algorithms can zero in on the root cause of the attack and fix detected anomalies in the network.
•    Blockchain: The data stored on blockchain cannot be manipulated or erased by design. The tractability of activities performed on blockchain is integral to establishing a trustworthy network between endpoints. Furthermore, the decentralized nature of blockchain greatly increases the cost of breaching blockchain-based networks, which discourages hackers.

Envisioning the Next-Generation Cybersecurity Practices is part of Frost & Sullivan’s global Information & Communication Growth Partnership Service program.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Two major security industry accolades—the Sara E. Jackson Memorial award and the Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year award—were given out at the Electronic Security Association’s Leadership Summit, Jan. 28-31, in Austin, Texas.

ESA President Chris Mosley presented Don Childers of Security Central with the Sara E. Jackson Memorial Award during the first Main Stage session at Leadership Summit. Childers gave a heartfelt speech thanking the many people he has worked with during his years in the industry. Click here to see the video of the presentation. This award is sponsored by Resideo.

Mosley also presented Angela White, immediate past president of ESA, with the 2019 Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year Award. White thanked the people who nominated her and the past recipients of the award, as well as everyone who she has worked with along the way to give her this opportunity. Click here to see the video of the award presentation. This award is sponsored by Interlogix.

Each year, executives from the electronic security and life safety industry gather for the ESA Leadership Summit network with each other, learn keys to success from other industries, and develop their leadership skillset.

Jillian Bateman, ESA chief development officer, told Security Systems News, “We try to be a very, very efficient leadership event—one that is strategic about the interactions we foster.”
 
In addition to interactive sessions that delved into key industry topics and issues of the day, the summit also featured the ESA’s Rising Leaders Forum and an online networking portal to help facilitate beneficial meetings, which was fully launched for the first time this year.

“It’s able to help pair folks on interests,” Bateman said. “Whether an attendee wants to meet with another attendee on, maybe, some issues that they're having with technicians that they can brainstorm and talk through, or, if they want to meet a vendor on a new product that they have, they can do that as well.”

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by: Paul Ragusa - Tuesday, January 29, 2019

On Data Privacy Day yesterday, the Security Industry Association (SIA) shared details on how it is helping member companies and the industry at large understand and manage the critical issue of protecting consumer data. Through the efforts of the SIA Data Privacy Advisory Board, the association has produced a number of essential resources for this critical issue.

SIA has taken a leading position on privacy issues for many years, having released its original Privacy Framework in 2010, and has become even more active recently, starting with the 2017 creation of the SIA Data Privacy Advisory Board. SIA is also working with companies such as ADT to bring greater awareness of the importance of data privacy.

Recently, SIA has also:
     • Published white papers on “Data Privacy and Security Trends for 2018” and “Big Data and Privacy for Physical Security”
     • Presented a webinar on “Privacy 101: The Importance of Protecting Customer Data”
     • Produced fact sheets, a list of references and videos on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
     • Submitted comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology on its Privacy Framework proposal
     • Organized a panel discussion on data privacy for an integrators’ conference

In addition, SIA is conducting a survey of its members to gauge industry opinions about data privacy and to identify future SIA activities and programs.

With the GDPR now in effect, California having passed the Consumer Privacy Act, and many members of Congress and state lawmakers considering data privacy legislation, SIA CEO Don Erickson said that the association is stressing to its members that they should get ahead of potential regulations rather than wait and react to them.

“It is vital that members of the security industry ensure that their business practices—as well as their products and services—are designed in a way that protects data and consumer privacy,” Erickson said. “One of SIA’s top priorities is helping the industry to understand that this is not just a matter of regulatory compliance, but also one of customer service and, even, business development. We are committed to providing resources and guidance that will enable them to view data privacy challenges not as a crisis but, rather, an opportunity.”

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The role of voice within security is certainly growing, especially on the residential side of the equation, but as a recent study finds, consumers are embracing the power of the voice to control their phones, cars, homes and even security systems.

In fact, standalone voice assistants—or smart speakers—are one of the fastest-adopted technologies in U.S. history and have a 98 percent satisfaction rate among U.S. consumers, according to a new research report from Accenture based on a global survey of 22,500 consumers across 21 countries. Half of online consumers globally now use digital voice assistants, with emerging markets leading the way in adoption, the research firm found.
 
“Adoption and satisfaction with smart speaker technology is booming,” Robin Murdoch, co-author of the report and managing director of Accenture’s global Software and Platforms industry practice, said. “Convenience and accessible price points are helping drive increased use but maintaining this loyalty will require companies to stay relevant with consumer needs while creating and constantly renewing trust.”
 
The report, “Reshape to Relevance,” notes that smart speakers are disrupting the consumer technology and service ecosystems. Accenture found that 93 percent of consumers globally expect their home device purchases, such as smart TVs or computers, to be based on ease of integration with their standalone smart speaker.
 
The relevance of smart speakers is reflected in consumers’ expectations to use these devices for more-advanced tasks beyond routine activities like voice calling, playing music or eBooks, and accessing news, Accenture note. “They see value in voice assistants managing home security (61 percent of respondents), providing connected home automation (59 percent), paying bills and providing payment alerts (55 percent)—even making restaurant reservations (53 percent) and providing access to virtual medical advice (52 percent).
 
“However, trust is a potential impediment to greater adoption of smart speakers, with 41 percent of consumers citing privacy concerns and 40 percent citing security concerns with the technology. Forty-six percent of consumers believe they don’t have control of their data with voice assistants and 58 percent are more likely to re-evaluate their trust in this service by continually checking how their information is being used.”
 
Greg Roberts, another co-author of the report and managing director of Accenture’s North America High Tech industry practice, said, “Consumers expect their smart speakers to handle complex workloads and integrate with other products. Brands that offer advanced artificial intelligence capabilities will be well positioned for success. But to attract more customers, they will have to be transparent in how they store, use and share data. Establishing an agreed trust standard with consumers is essential.”

Accenture Research conducted an online survey of 22,500 consumers in 21 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. The sample in each country was representative of the online population. Ages of respondents ranged from 14 to over 55. The survey and related data modeling quantify consumer perceptions of digital devices, content and services, purchasing patterns, preference and trust in service providers, and the future of their connected lifestyles. The online surveys were conducted between October and November 2018.
 
 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Creating safer schools is a major dilemma facing our nation today, but thankfully it is one that some of the best minds are coming together to solve. The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) has taken a major step by creating safety and security guidelines and standards of practice that all schools can turn to and follow, guidelines and standards that come from lessons learned from past tragedies and ones that were averted, and from experiences and expertise from leaders in security and education, and from parents and students.

The fourth edition of its Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools provides school administrators, school boards and public safety and security professionals with guidelines for implementing a layered and tiered approach to securing and enhancing the safety of school environments.

Guy Grace Jr., PASS chairman and director of security and emergency planning for Littleton Public Schools, is leading this effort. The Security Industry Association (SIA) named Grace as the 2018 recipient of the SIA Insightful Practitioner Award, an honor recognizing excellence in promoting the implementation of innovative security solutions.

Grace began providing district services to LPS in 1990 and was soon promoted to patrolman, then lead officer and security facilitator before assuming his current role. He has created and assisted with developing many security-related projects, protocols and practices used today in school safety for both LPS and other school districts.

“The safety and security challenges schools face today are more multifaceted and complex than ever before, and protecting students and staff requires a comprehensive approach to these challenges,” Grace said in the announcement of the new PASS standards. “We are proud to build on the PASS guidelines, which present the most comprehensive information available on best practices for securing school facilities, an essential component supporting all-hazards approaches to school safety.”

The fourth edition of the guidelines is completely revised under a simplified structure and greatly expanded to now cover best practices on a district-wide level that relate to safety and security and additional areas such as school transportation, cybersecurity and network infrastructure, architectural features and emergency communications.

The PASS Guidelines identify and classify best practices for securing K-12 facilities in response to urgent needs for information identified by the education community. The guidelines aim to answer two key questions – “What should we do?” and “How do we prioritize?” – and include:

•    Specific actions that can effectively raise the baseline of security;
•    Vetted security practices specific to K-12 environments;
•    Objective, reliable information on available safety and security technology;
•    Assessment of current security measures against nationwide best practices;
•    Multiple options for addressing security needs identified; and
•    How to distinguish needed and effective solutions from sales pitches on unnecessary products.

The guidelines describe approaches within five physical layers for school facilities: district-wide, the property perimeter, the parking lot perimeter, the building perimeter and the classroom/interior perimeter. Within each layer, the resource outlines key safety and security components, such as policies and procedures, people (roles and training), architectural components, communication, access control, video surveillance and detection and alarms.

“We believe this approach provides a simplified way for administrators to effectively evaluate their security infrastructure, prioritize investment and maximize security in ways that are consistent with longstanding security practices and ensure a baseline of facility security measures appropriate for school facilities,” Mark Williams, PASS vice chairman, said in the press release.

Established in 2014, PASS brings together expertise from the education community, law enforcement and the security industry to develop and support a coordinated approach that can assist school administrators in making effective use of proven security practices specific to K-12 environments, including elementary, middle and high schools.

The latest guidelines are available at no cost on the PASS website, and PASS encourages education professionals, public safety personnel and security solutions providers to take advantage of these free resources.
 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, January 9, 2019

ADS Security, a regional electronic security and automation company based in Nashville, Tenn., has revealed they surpassed $4 million in RMR in 2018, including a record-setting eight companies in 2018, surpassing the previous record of seven acquisitions in 2016.

ADS achieved this mark through strong organic growth driven by a focus on providing legendary service and by maintaining a large acquisition pipeline.

 “2018 was the best year in ADS’s history,” John Cerasuolo, president and CEO, swaid in the announcement. “We have built a strong culture and team of people who care about providing legendary service to our customers and to the security company owners we acquire. We are not slowing down and expect 2019 to be another record-setting year.”

After its inception in 1990, ADS achieved $2 million in RMR in 2012 and now has doubled that monthly revenue in about a quarter of the time. ADS Security’s $4 million in RMR is made up of more than 100,000 residential and commercial customer sites spread over 25 branch locations throughout the southeastern United States.

With a UL-listed monitoring center located in Nashville, ADS Security offers a full range of burglar, fire alarm, video surveillance, access control, and automation systems.

Cerasuolo told Security Systems News after the company’s latest acquisition back in December, that he us excited for similar growth in 2019.

“We have very high expectations for 2019. We’ve got a good number of deals that are in various stages along the process. So, we expect to come out of the gate pretty strong in 2019, in terms and acquisitions,” he said. “There’s no reason not to expect that we’ll have similar kind of results in [2019] that we had this year.”

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, January 2, 2019

ASSA ABLOY recently announced its new Preferred Installer program to help streamline deployments for installers and systems integrators.

Building on decades of experience in the higher education market, ASSA ABLOY has developed a national network of Intertek certified hardware installers who are highly skilled in providing physical installation of its integrated electronic locking devices.

“Systems integrators, who often face staff shortages, can take advantage of this network of installers to maximize their efficiency,” the company said in the announcement, noting that the ability to outsource this skill helps improve productivity, ensure a quality installation, and create a competitive advantage. “What’s more, when contracted through ASSA ABLOY, an additional year of warranty is provided for products installed by Preferred Installers. This program also helps end-users meet their deadlines, provides peace of mind with high-quality installations, and protects their investment with an extended warranty.”

Preferred Installers go through a rigorous, four-day hands-on training course given by ASSA ABLOY instructors.
 
“We have attended many a training class, and this is hands down the only class offered that is truly a hands-on course with an instructor that is more than qualified to teach,” Chad Smith, chief of operations at ACME Security Solutions, LLC, said in the announcement. “We had an amazing learning experience, and this is all owed to the instructor, who took this training above and beyond our expectations.”

ASSA ABLOY Preferred Installers are third-party certified by Intertek, which means the technicians are qualified to field prep Warnock Hersey labeled fire doors for the installation of specific ASSA ABLOY integrated locks and accessories while retaining the door’s fire resistance rating and compliance with NFPA 80. In addition, Intertek Qualified Personnel may apply supplemental serialized labels to doors they’ve prepped and after ASSA ABLOY hardware has been installed. This signifies to Authorities Having Jurisdiction and Fire Door Inspectors that the installation was completed in accordance with NFPA guidelines.

“The Intertek Qualified Personnel (IQP) ASSA ABLOY Hardware Installer program provides assurance that personnel conducting work in the field are fully qualified and that the work is done correctly each and every time,” Justin Hendricks, program manager - Openings Building & Construction, Intertek. “Participation in the program is also crucial to maintaining the door’s Intertek fire resistance rating and subsequent compliance with NFPA 80 guidelines.”

Lester LaPierre, director of business development, Electronic Access Control, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions added: “ASSA ABLOY has provided installation services for many years across the country at our largest installations incorporating thousands of electronic access control locksets. We’ve learned that the outcome of each of those projects was quality workmanship and high productivity. This resulted in timelines being met, site issues and product returns being reduced, and, most importantly, satisfied integrators, general contractors, and end users. That’s why we’re expanding and formalizing this program so those same benefits can be applied across all opportunities.”

ASSA ABLOY Certified Integrators interested in using a Preferred Installer can simply log on to the Partner Area of www.IntelligentOpenings.com to find the Installation Services Quote Request form to begin the process. For dedicated hardware installation professionals interested in joining the ASSA ABLOY Preferred Installer network, please contact Lester LaPierre ([email protected]).
 

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