PSA Security Network Confronts Cyber and Natural Disasters at Annual Convention

Attendees of PSA Security Network’s annual convention weathered an unexpected hurricane, while also covering hot topics, such as cybersecurity.

BERMUDA ― Not even an unexpected hurricane could diminish the enthusiasm of some 170 members, vendor partners, special guests and spouses at the annual PSA Convention Oct. 10-14, where Security Sales & Integration was the exclusive invited media representative. Aside from a couple of scary hours during the wee hours of Oct. 12, when what had been forecast as a tropical storm (winds up to 50mph) that would skirt the British island territory instead scored a direct hit as it whipped up to become Hurricane Fay (gusts up to 120mph with 5 inches of rain), it was mostly business as usual for the industry’s leading security systems integrator organization. Although some planned PSA leisure activities were scotched, fortunately no major injuries or casualties were reported despite widespread downed trees, broken windows and structural damage. At the end of the day, the downpour scarcely put a damper on the PSA Security Network celebrating the 40th year since its founding.

Perhaps even more foreboding than the hurricane is the storm brewing on the horizon for security integrators in regard to cybersecurity and associated threats. Eagle Eye Networks CEO Dean Drako delivered a sobering but eye-opening keynote detailing the staggering universal challenge governments, businesses, and individuals are facing trying to fend off hackers and cyber-attacks. He then drilled down to describe the specific threats to physical security solutions providers. He discussed five “attack vectors” that security companies need to concern themselves with: Windows OS; Linux OS; DVRs/NVRs/VMS; endpoints (i.e. cameras, controllers); and firewalls. In particular, Drako talked about the high vulnerability in the industry due to the use of Web browsers, shared enterprise networks and the recently discovered Unix Bash shell vulnerability that puts anything embedded with Linux (including a high percentage of security devices) at risk.

“More sophistication in programming means higher vulnerabilities too,” said Drako, who is also the founder of Barracuda Networks. “With all the embedded programs in recorders, who is updating and tracking all the vulnerabilities? All of them are too high. DVRs and NVRs for the most part are disasters waiting to happen. And cameras are also at high risk.” According to Drako, the typical machine with an open port on the Internet is scanned more than 10,000 times daily by nefarious bots and cyber threats, and so staying off the network is the only truly safe measure one can take. “The landscape for network security is a mess, with too many vendors and a lack of comprehensive solutions,” added Drako, whose Eagle Eye firm offers a cloud-based VMS solution.

However, out of that chaos is the opportunity for physical security integrators to partner with managed service providers and other cyber experts to cover themselves against liability, tap into the billions of dollars being allocated in this area, and deliver total security solutions to end users. Dismissed by most within the physical security industry as being irrelevant for manufacturers and integrators alike, the cyber issue has seemingly overnight taken center stage. In fact, cybersecurity has gained so much traction that during a panel discussion following Drako’s presentation featuring representatives from five leading security manufacturers there was unanimous agreement that it is presently the most disruptive technological force affecting the electronic security industry.

As such, PSA President Bill Bozeman and Director of Education Barbara Shaw advised attendees on the organization’s new cybersecurity program designed to provide companies with the knowledge, skills and tools to help identify, assess and monitor cybersecurity threats. PSA has partnered exclusively with SSI and its sister publication Channel Pro to launch the upcoming PSA Cybersecurity Congress Jan. 20-21 just outside Denver. Bozeman said he expects cybersecurity to be the most significant transformative development to the electronic security business since the advent of networked devices, systems and solutions.

The manufacturer panel session delved into several other hot technology topics as well. Moderated by Dakota Security Systems CEO and SSI Editorial Advisory Board Member Eric Yunag, participants Carole Dugan (Arecont Vision), Dan Murray (Bosch Security), Rob Munro (Exacq Technologies/Tyco Security Products), Rick Mohr (HID Global) and Dave Uberig (March Networks) addressed advances in cloud-based services, access control and video surveillance. Regarding the cloud, the consensus was the most viable security use today is leveraging it for health monitoring of security systems and analyzing metadata for more RMR. They said bandwidth issues greatly limit storing all video in the cloud. In access control, panelists said the future will revolve around NFC- and Bluetooth-enabled smartphones rather than traditional credentials. Finally, in video surveillance, the discourse focused on 4K Ultra HD and its inevitable ubiquity in the market. Other up-and-coming video technologies according to the manufacturers are edge devices and better analytics.

The PSA Convention, which also included updates on the group’s finances and business initiatives as well as numerous social and networking functions, concluded the evening of Oct. 13 with the President’s Awards Dinner. There, a jovial Bozeman presided cracking wise about consequences of the hurricane (“In-room waterfalls at no extra cost!”) while handing out awards for PSA’s top 10 performing member companies during the year. At the top of the list as the leading equipment purchasers during the period was Securadyne Systems.

As conventioneers headed home, there was a great sense of relief due to being able to escape with another projected hurricane bearing down on Bermuda later in the week. The imminent storm resulted in the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) canceling its annual meeting that was coincidentally scheduled for the same venue, the Fairmont Southampton, Oct. 17-22. The PSA Convention in 2015 is set for the Westin Resort in Cabo San Lucas, where recovery efforts continue following destruction from September’s Hurricane Odile. Perhaps it’s all apropos of the winds of change sweeping through the industry.

Established in 1974, Professional Security Alliance Inc. (dba PSA Security Network) is the world’s largest electronic security cooperative. The for-profit organization encompasses 200+ electronic security systems integrators, aligning them with 150+ vendor partners. Together, the PSA network is responsible for more than $2 billion in annual security systems design, installation, integration and maintenance of access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection, fire, and life-safety systems.

About the Author

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Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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