Genetec warns public sector to be cautious on cyber risks

Montreal, Canada

Following a pandemic-exacerbated rise in data breaches and ransomware attacks, Genetec Inc., a leading technology provider of unified security, public safety, operations, and business intelligence solutions, has offered a guide to public sector organisations on how to reduce cyber vulnerabilities of physical security systems that are often overlooked.

IP security cameras and other security devices were put in place to protect people, assets, and environments. But the same network connectivity that enables organisations to monitor operations and update software remotely presents a path into the network for cyber criminals. If they are not sufficiently modern or properly shielded, they can pose significant risk to cyber security. An attack that originates in a camera or door controller can find its way through the network to block access to critical applications, lock files for ransom, and steal personal data.

Justin Himelberger, Enterprise Systems Business Development Manager for US Federal and DOD at Genetec Inc., said, “Because these systems – video surveillance, access control, alarms, communications, and more – are increasingly connected to networks and IT infrastructure, they can be quite vulnerable. With the number of cyber attacks increasing around the world, it is becoming clear that government organisations must be more stringent than ever about cyber security in their own organisations and throughout their supply chains.”

A step organisations can take immediately is making sure each device, as well as the servers used for storing data and hosting monitoring consoles, has the latest version of firmware and software recommended by the manufacturer. Changing default passwords and establishing a process to change them frequently is a critical practice. Improving network design to segment older devices can also help reduce the potential for crossover attack.

Assessing and preventing vulnerabilities

To determine the risk of physical security systems, Genetec recommends organisations conduct a posture assessment, creating and maintaining an inventory of all network-connected devices and their connectivity, firmware version, and configuration. As part of the assessment, they must identify models and manufacturers of concern, such as those listed by the U.S. Government under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as presenting a high level of cyber risk. They should also document all users with knowledge of security devices and systems.

The review can pinpoint devices and systems that should be replaced. When developing a replacement programme, prioritise strategies that support modernisation. One effective approach is to unify physical and cyber security devices and software on a single, open-architecture platform with centralised management tools and views.

Additionally, while physical security and IT have been approached as separate efforts historically, the risk of cyber attacks through physical security technology is driving change. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recommends joining IT and physical security into a single team, so they can develop a comprehensive security programme based on a common understanding of risk, responsibilities, strategies, and practices.

According to Genetec, in the US, Federal funding may be available to help cover costs associated with replacement programmes. The 2021 Investment and Jobs Act includes $1billion earmarked to help state and local governments modernise their cyber security.


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