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posted Aug 3, 2017, 7:40 AM by Andrew Chadick   [ updated May 30, 2018, 8:16 AM ]

Creating a safe working environment requires a lot of work through thoughtful planning up-front and diligent maintenance over time.  Those of us who monitor and protect use our systems and tools daily in our work. So, keeping our hardware, installations, and security platforms in good shape must be a high priority.


The thought and planning that went into your installation will show as your systems age.  However, once you have installed your safeguards, they will start to degrade no matter how well your system was designed.  Whether those safeguards are physical measures like gates and fencing, or electronic systems like access controls or security cameras, you must keep them maintained.  You should include maintenance and replacement costs in your security budget, and build maintenance activities into your work schedule.


Maintenance issues will differ depending on the safeguard type.  For outdoor products, such as fencing and gates, and anything else with metal parts, there is wear and tear and rust to contend with, even if parts are galvanized.  There is also abuse and vandalism to deal with on occasion. 


Even for bullet-resistant polymers, you should take great care in keeping them in top shape. You must clean them with specific products, and when necessary coat the sides that are exposed to sunlight with UV protection or have the outer windows coated with a special film.  Polymers tend to show signs of degradation through hair line cracks first appearing on the surface of the material.  Please check with your vendor for specific care instructions.


Electronics, in general, require a different approach to maintenance.  With fences and gates, you can walk around, look for signs of wear, add oil to chain links, and generally do maintenance through completely physical means.  For electronics, you can replace dead parts, check to make sure camera lenses are clean, and remove any signs of abuse or neglect from the outside of the various housings, but there are additional maintenance issues that aren’t apparent from an initial observation.  Indoor products may experience heat damage from being on continuously, which is usually the result of insufficient airflow.  You should make sure that dust hasn’t built up inside the cases and that the cooling fans can spin freely. For outdoor electronics, there is not only moisture to contend with, but camera heaters can fail, and there can be abuse from both vandals and the elements.  


Computerized systems and devices experience additional wear and tear that can’t be seen – the result of network attacks, scans, exploits, and tools barraging your systems in an attempt to take them over and add them to a global botnet.  Your online systems are being scanned and tested for vulnerability constantly.  There are entire websites dedicated to exposing and exploiting your systems.  Even if your systems aren’t online per se, an attacker can walk by your site, latch on to your wireless network, and attack from within, or if they are lucky they can get to a CAT connection, jack in, and have direct access without much effort.


Questions to Consider:

After the installation of your various systems, have you ever gone back and checked over everything? Have you looked to make sure holes have been mended in fences, hinges and chains are oiled, light bulbs are replaced, and latches are tight and hold when pulled upon?


What about your electronics?  Did you know that the cameras, video recorders and computers in our networks must be checked regularly as well? Heat damage is an issue, so make sure your devices and electronics are getting air. Be sure to keep the insides dust free.  Are you keeping the software secure?  Did you know that you need to apply firmware updates to help keep them secure?


Exploits are discovered daily, malware and other tools designed to take over your computer systems and devices are released into the wild all the time, and are out there right now. Criminals armed with these tools are awaiting the right circumstances to infiltrate your systems.  When was the last time you went back through your installation and made sure your passwords were still set and the devices were still working and configured the way you left them?  Are your passwords considered “strong”?  Are your devices and computers fully patched and up to date? Is remote access expressly limited or closed completely?


Checking and maintaining all the components of your security systems – physical, hardware, and software – are crucial to ensuring that they protect you and the people who work and visit your organization. Maintenance must be an integral part of your security workflow, not an afterthought.


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Concluding Thoughts

Everything in the security world evolves - the ways surveillance occurs, the ways attacks are carried out, the tools and even the weapons that are used change over time.  For instance, drones were a thing of science fiction not long ago.  Look at how they are shaping the security landscape now as a tool for everything from mapping landscapes to carrying out surveillance   Look how they are also being used to smuggle in products that can be used for an attack. We must change with the times, we should keep up with new developments, evaluate new products, and prepare accordingly so that our security systems can keep our organizations and the people who depend on them protected and secure.