NAC – Network Access Control

What is NAC and is it right for your business?

Network access control (NAC), also called network admission control, is a method of bolstering the security of a proprietary network by restricting the availability of network resources to endpoint devices that comply with a defined security policy.

NAC

A traditional network access server (NAS) is a server that performs authentication and authorization functions for potential users by verifying logon information. In addition to these functions, NAC restricts the data that each particular user can access, as well as implementing anti-threat applications such as firewalls, antivirus software and spyware-detection programs. network access control also regulates and restricts the things individual subscribers can do once they are connected. Several major networking and IT vendors have introduced network access control products.
NAC is ideal for corporations and agencies where the user environment can be rigidly controlled. However, some administrators have expressed doubt about the practicality of NAC deployment in networks with large numbers of diverse users and devices, the nature of which constantly change. An example is a network for a large university with multiple departments, numerous access points and thousands of users with various backgrounds and objectives.

Getting started with NAC

To explore how NAC is used in the enterprise, here are additional resources:
Network access control — More than endpoint security: Learn how to gauge if your enterprise is ready for network access control (NAC).
NAC — Strengthening your SSL VPN: This tip explores why and how network access control functions are used to strengthen SSLVPNs, and their relationship to industry NAC initiatives.
Compliance in a virtualized world: Server virtualization and NAC security: Server virtualization presents challenges for network security, particularly NAC and compliance issues. Learn what these challenges are and how to overcome them.

Article Provided By:TechTarget

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Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail with Network Security

Network Security

Network SecurityNetwork security is now a more pressing concern for businesses than ever before. Indeed, the concern around security/compliance has been found to be business’ #1 barrier to deciding to adopt the cloud, and last year, a report from Cisco estimated that one million cybersecurity jobs would appear in 2016, highlighting a level of investment and dedication not yet witnessed.

What, though, can companies do to help ensure that they are protected against enormously damaging breaches? We take a look at how organizations can help ensure their networks, sensitive data and other critical infrastructure are safeguarded from the huge number of threats now in play.

Be sure to automate

How can IT security departments manually detect threats when users, devices and applications generate such an enormous number of network connections, data transactions and application requests? Indeed, it’s like finding a particular needle in a large stack of needles.

Here’s where security information and event management (SIEM) software comes in, allowing businesses to centralise syslogs and events from network devices, servers, applications, databases and users, while also helping to automate threat detection and offering corrective responses to mitigate risk.

Automation is just one of the vital tools in the fight against security threats, with firewalls, anti-malware, and threat intelligence all having a part to play.

Get your framework in place

A comprehensive security framework is an absolute must for helping to ensure the safety of your organization’s IT. With an audit of the available inventory, from the types of transactions to BYOD policies and account roles, your company can get the framework off on the right foot.

An IT security framework is only achievable with a significant degree of cooperation, with management, IT and many other business departments all playing a part. Indeed, it only ends with the technology used, and is comprised of the organization working together to evolve and help ensure better security standards 

Keep an eye on endpoint devices

A flexible workforce is becoming a more pressing need for the modern enterprise, with employers and employees keen to make use of the freedom this approach can offer. Yet such an approach represents a threat. Say an employee with malicious intent and access to confidential data on their laptop decided to share this, how could you stop it? 

By monitoring all endpoint devices, from laptops, to mobile devices to a USB drive, you can help ensure sensitive data is not leaving your environment. For example, if a USB device is ejected/blocked automatically as soon as any nefarious activities take place, and corrective action, such as account blocking, is implemented then you can minimize the impact of an attack.

Keep insider threats at bay

The example used in the previous entry on this list – of a malicious employee – highlights that the most damaging security compromise can sometimes happen from the inside. By monitoring which users attempt to access sensitive data, as well as network traffic, logs and credentials you can identify and combat any insider threats, with monitoring able to flag any user attempting to access something they shouldn’t. 

Analytics are a must

The importance of gaining insights from your data using analytics cannot be overstated. With access to real-time network data, a business can identify and act upon suspicious network activity, seeing whether there are seemingly threatening connection requests from outside sources, or an increase in web traffic activity on a critical router or firewall.

Data-driven analysis can also help investigate the cause of an attack after the fact. If you’re unlucky enough to have been breached, then analytics are vital in discovering how it happened through root-cause analysis, and will help you figure out how to prevent it in the future. 

Be PCI DSS compliant

By being compliant with regulatory standards, your business not only helps to ensure better data protection, but also helps avoid fines or even criminal charges. This is a particular concern in the payment card industry, for example, where data breaches can mean compromising data from millions of credit cards. 

Complying with standards such as PCI DSS can help ensure all of the above. However, being compliant does not mean you can rest on your laurels, so make sure to leverage this obligation to actually increase security, instead of just trying to tick the box for a regulator. There are many ways you can do this, for example, if you are required to produce a report of all admin activity, have your internal security team review it as well. Make sure you get the most out of being compliant. 

While there are a number of other steps businesses can take to help ensure IT security is in the right place, from enabling threat intelligence to practicing knowledge sharing, the above tips should stand your organization in good stead for the threats that lay ahead. 

With the right preparation, people, strategy and tools, your company can be confident that it is ready to overcome the new challenges it is likely to face.

Article Provided By: Info-Security Magazine

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Cost of data breaches increasing to average of $3.8 million

data breaches

Data Breaches

The cost of data breaches is rising for companies around the world as sophisticated thieves target valuable financial and medical records, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The total average cost of a data breach is now $3.8 million, up from $3.5 million a year ago, according to a study by data security research organization Ponemon Institute, paid for by International Business Machines Corp.

The direct costs include hiring experts to fix the breach, investigating the cause, setting up hotlines for customers and offering credit monitoring for victims. Business lost because customers are wary after a breach can be even greater, the study said.

Data breaches are becoming more common and significant, with high-profile attacks on Sony Corp, JPMorgan Chase and retailers Target Corp and Home Depot Inc in the past year and a half.

“Most of what’s occurring is through organized crime,” said Caleb Barlow, vice president of IBM Security. “These are well-funded groups. They work Monday to Friday. They are probably better funded and better staffed than a lot people who are trying to defend against them.”

IBM, which sells cyber-security services to companies, has a vested interest in highlighting the costs of data breaches.

The cost of a data breach is now $154 per record lost or stolen, up from $145 last year, according to the study, based on interviews with 350 companies from 11 major countries that had suffered a data breach.

The study’s authors said average costs did not apply to mega-breaches affecting millions of customers, such as those suffered by JPMorgan Chase, Target and Home Depot, which cost the companies far greater sums. Target alone said last year its breach cost $148 million.

The study found that the healthcare was most at risk for costly breaches, with an average cost per record lost or stolen as high as $363, more than twice the average for all sectors of $154.

That reflects the relatively high value of a person’s medical records on the underground market, said IBM, as Social Security information is much more useful for identity theft than simple names, addresses or credit card numbers.

Article Provided By: Reuters

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So you’re caught in a data breach. Now what?

data breach

Reacting to a data breach can feel like you’re shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic or slamming the barn door after the horses have bolted. But there are some concrete steps you can take to minimize the harm from breaches and make yourself safer in case it happens again.

Last week, we found out when a hacker started selling a massive database of LinkedIn customer information that a 2012 data breach affected 167 million accounts, 161 million more accounts than originally reported. Other major breaches include those of Target in 2013JPMorgan Chase in 2014, and the U.S. government’sOffice of Personnel Management in 2015.

Many of the steps you can take after learning that your data has been involved in a breach might feel ineffective, says Paul Stephens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy organization. But consumers are not as powerless as they might feel, he adds.

“Consumers need to get in the mindset that you assume that you’ve been breached and [are] proactive to begin with,” he says. “If you go with that premise, then I think a lot of the breach fatigue will be eliminated.”

Think of having your personal information stolen in a data breach like getting sick. You don’t (or at least shouldn’t) just roll over and moan until it goes away: To prevent it from getting worse as your body recovers, you take some medication or homeopathic remedies. If you find that your data is part of a breach, you can do certain things to recover faster and make it harder for hackers to harm you after future breaches.

A Data Breach, also known as security breaches, take on various forms. Someone could have stolen your credit card information from a point-of-sale terminal through a scheme known as skimming. Someone could have stolen information about you from a computer, phone, or hard drive. Or, more commonly, someone could have hacked into a massive customer database containing information about you.

Responding to  a data breach is complicated, in no small part because of the patchwork of state and federal laws governing how companies that have been breached are required to notify you. In the United States, 47 states require varying degrees of notification. You may not immediately or even directly learn that your data has been involved in a breach. You might receive a notification via email or a physical letter, or read or listen to a news report about it.

“Often, consumers aren’t given accurate information by the entity that was breached,” Stephens says. “Checking your credit report is not going to do a thing if the only thing that was in the breach was your credit card number.”

Taking the correct action for the kind of breach you’re involved in, and making sure that your accounts are as secure as possible before another breach occurs, can go a long way. Here are five things to do, if you hear that your information has been involved in a data breach.

DETERMINE WHETHER IT’S LEGIT

Make sure that the breach actually happened, and that you’re not falling prey to a phishing attack or other scam to get you to hand over your vital data. Contact the organization, which can include looking for a message about the breach on its website, looking up its phone number (not the one in the email sent to you) and calling it directly, or keeping an eye out for media reports of the breach.

Do not respond to the email, call the phone number included in the email, or click any links in the email, as the email could be an attempt to steal your personal information known as phishing. If you’re concerned about the veracity of the breach notification, we’ve compiled some tips to avoid phishing scams and phone call scams.

FIGURE OUT WHAT WAS STOLEN

The actions you take depend on the information stolen. Was it a credit or debit card number? A username or password? Or was it something more closely related to your identity, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, driver’s license number, or passport number? Your next actions depend on what’s been pilfered.

UPDATE YOUR AUTHENTICATION METHOD

Don’t let accounts with potentially compromised passwords linger. Compromised accounts can lead to more fraudulent activity in your name, and they can be used to send even more phishing spam. Wherever possible, choose new passwords at least 16 characters in length that include uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers, symbols, and spaces. Do not reuse passwords.

Also, wherever possible, take advantage of two-factor authentication, which provides an extra layer of security to your accounts. So even if someone steals your password, he or she can’t access your account. Here’s our regularly updated guide to two-factor authentication.

And when answering identity verification questions such as, “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What was your first car?” you should lie. Make the lie easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess—the answer to the question about your mother’s maiden name could be something like, “Donald Trump is scary.”

REPLACE YOUR CARD(S), AND MONITOR YOUR CREDIT

If the breach involves your bank or credit card information, contact the financial institution immediately. It will guide you through fraud protection, a process that most likely will place a hold on your account until it can issue you a new card or account number.

Ask the institution to watch for fraudulent activity on your account, and ask a major credit-reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union) to monitor your account for fraud. If you’ve been offered free credit monitoring as part of a breach notification, take advantage of it.

CONTACT THE GOVERNMENT

If the stolen data includes government-issued identification, such as your Social Security number, or identity numbers that can’t be changed, such as your birth date, get in touch with the authorities. The U.S. government has a site dedicated to helping people who need to change their government-issued identification numbers at IdentityTheft.gov.

There are pre-emptive steps you can take too. For example, the IRS offers residents of some states a unique identification number to cut down on tax return fraud.

REGISTER FOR FUTURE DATA BREACH NOTIFICATION

Security expert Troy Hunt runs a free subscription site called Have I Been Pwned, which will notify you by email if your information has been stolen as part of a data breach.

If your email has been part of a breach, and you’re using the same password as before the breach, it’s likely been compromised and you need to change it immediately.

Although it can be easy to slip into “breach fatigue,” it’s not enough for consumers to presume they’ve been breached. “Why wait for the breach to happen?” asks Stephens, who encourages consumers to take action “before it occurs.”

Article Provided By: The Paralla

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Don’t Improve Network Security – Create Secure Networks

Secure Networks

Secure Networks

Secure Networks vs. Network Security

Security Leaders Must Change Their Mindset on How to Think About Policy, Detection and Enforcement 

Security practitioners have a problem. In the face of a seemingly endless barrage of cyberattacks, organizations have been faced with mounting pressure to combat threats by any means possible. In the interest of deepening defenses, too many organizations have taken a “buy it all” approach, hoping that by adding more and more security layers to their network, they will be able to keep up with the malicious threats trying to bring it down.

This has created an unmanageable system of products that all claim to make us more secure, when in reality they have taken “defense and depth” model to an extreme that is counterproductive. Too much time and money is spent keeping a litany of network security devices up to date, while not enough time is spent with an actually secure networks. Instead of creating greater certainty, it’s creating agonizing complexity.

Case in point: At RSA last month, I was bombarded by an interminable amount of new appliances promising to protect my network from any number of highly specific threats. But, if with every new threat we added a new security layer, we wouldn’t be any more secure – instead, we would have endless silos of applications that are disconnected and ultimately inadequate.

The fact is, there needs to be a fundamental change in mindset of the way we view security. We need to reset our thinking and priorities and move the focus away from improving network security and towards creating secure networks. While it’s important to have multiple layers of defense, more emphasis needs to be placed on how companies integrate, update and manage their security.

At their core, secure networks should focus on automation and management. This includes expanding enforcement beyond the firewall to determine what other points in the network can help stop threats. They should focus on how to more effectively integrate threat intelligence from multiple sources and then automate the analysis of that information. Finally, they need to find ways to more centrally manage and adapt policy rules that can be enforced as broadly across a company’s infrastructure as possible.

We need to change our mindset on how we think about policy, detection and enforcement. There are several steps that companies can take to move towards creating secure networks and away from improving network security.

1) Open Standard, Intent-Based Policy Engine: The industry has been talking about universal policy and universal policy engines for decades. Translating policies and zones between different policy engines has grown exceedingly difficult as CISOs and CIOs are now inheriting at least three generations of devices that have little documentation on security coverage in their networks. We need to automate and federate a policy engine that will allow exchange of policies with open standards. The community should embrace open source efforts in cybersecurity information sharing specifications like TAXII™, STIX™, and CybOX™. A great overview of these specifications can be found on the US-CERT government website.

Of the three, STIX™ is the most focused on the exchange of cyber threat information. This also can lead to a change in mindset around cyber threat and bad actor detection.

2) Embrace Ability to Detect Anywhere: We should be able to leverage the latest technology to identify the bad guys faster. First, as mentioned with STIX™, we want to be able to utilize all good intelligence to have real time information capabilities in identifying threats and bad actors. With the ability to have open standards-based threat intelligence exchange, every organization should have information to block known threats. Even with some of the best firewalls and perimeter security policies defined, threats and bad actors have been detected within local area networks. Unfortunately, these threats and hackers are typically found manually and usually reactively after a security incident response team notifies the public in some form. Instead of a scramble to sift through the network, we should be able to utilize the network itself to detect any threats or bad actors and immediately quarantine or stop proliferation within the network.

3) Enforce Everywhere: If you can detect threats anywhere in your network, why not also stop them there? Our industry approach to security has always been to enforce only at the edges of the network. With mobility, BYOD and IoT, the perimeter is now nowhere – or, as another way to look at it, the perimeter is now everywhere. It’s neither economically feasible nor operationally manageable to deploy yet another layer of security at every point of the network. Why not use the network itself? Many CISOs have budgets that range from 10 percent to 25 percent of the company’s overall IT budget. Why only use 25 percent of the budget to try to keep up with and protect the other 75 percent of the network? Why not use 100 percent to protect 100 percent of the network? Utilizing the network is the most cost effective and efficient method operationally for detection and enforcement. The security landscape is changing. We absolutely have to forego thinking about network security the traditional way.

The security industry needs to undergo a fundamental change in mindset that leverages every aspect of the network as a key point of security detection and enforcement. Only with this type of software-defined approach will we be able to attain a truly secure networks.

Article Provided By: Security Week

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GPS satellite networks are easy targets for hackers

A pivotal network of GPS satellites doesn’t properly guard its communication, making devices back on Earth susceptible to hacking, according to new research.

globalstar satellite network

This is an artist’s depiction of Globalstar satellites launched in 2010.

Lots of companies — everything ranging from overseas shipping containers to oil drilling rigs — use location data beamed from GPS trackers to ensure that equipment never goes off course.

But Colby Moore, a researcher with cybersecurity firm Synack, has found that it’s easy to crack Globalstar’s GPS satellite network. This is a company that bills itself as “the world’s most modern satellite network.”

GPS trackers beam data to satellites, which send them back to base stations on Earth. Using cheap hardware and small planes, Colby successfully intercepted and decoded data — none of which was encrypted.

He also found that there are no safeguards to check that data is shared only between real trackers and base stations. With that access, Moore was able to decode the transmissions and create fake GPS data.

The result? High-tech thieves could steal a freight truck full of precious cargo without setting off alarms. Rescuers responding to a sinking cruise ship could be redirected far away from the actual wreckage.

Aviation is especially at risk. Lots of planes transmit their location using Globalstar’s system, especially now that the organization that collects pilots’ flight plans, Lockheed Martin (LMT) Flight Service, signed a deal with the satellite company in June.

A spokesman for Lockheed Martin did not respond to a request for comment.

A hacker’s faked plane GPS signals could cause chaos at an airport that expects a plane to land — but can’t spot anything on radar.

Moore will present his findings at the Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas next week.

Globalstar (GSAT) did not acknowledge the flaw — or say whether it plans to actually start encrypting its communication.

“This type of situation has never been an issue to date,” said company representative Allison Hoffman. Globalstar said it would know if its systems were under attack. But this hack doesn’t technically attack Globalstar’s systems — it only fools them.

In today’s world, lack of encryption with sensitive communication is unacceptable. Encryption is required in all electronic banking, and it’s expected in email, texting, and even casual Web browsing.

Globalstar’s problem could be a result of old technology. The company had already launched 40 satellites into space by late 1999, when encryption was an afterthought. Plus, encryption adds to the size of data being transmitted — and in space, bandwidth is expensive, especially 20 years ago.

Moore said the only fix would be to add security features to new devices on Earth. But there are currently 649,000 Globalstar customers with devices whose software will be difficult — or impossible — to upgrade.

Article Provided by: CNN Money

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Security Technology Its Worth The InvestmentSecurity Technology Its Worth The Investment

Wi-Fi Sense, why this Windows 10 feature is freaking everyone out

Windows 10 includes a new feature called Wi-Fi Sense, which is making some folks uneasy.

Windows 10, Wi-Fi Sense

Windows 10 – Wi-Fi Sense allows you to automatically log your friends onto your Wi-Fi network without ever giving them your password. It’s a convenient solution to the awkward “what’s your Wi-Fi password?” conversations.

In turn, you can use Wi-Fi Sense to automatically connect your Windows 10 PC to your friends’ Wi-Fi networks without knowing their passwords.

Sounds safer than telling them your password, which you probably use for your bank and email accounts, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Why Wi-Fi Sense is safe

Microsoft enables Wi-Fi Sense by default on Windows 10, but it doesn’t share your networks by default. You have to actively choose to share your Wi-Fi network by clicking a box that says “Share network with my contacts” when logging in.

When you share your network, all of your Facebook (FBTech30) friends as well as your Skype and Outlook.com contacts will be able to automatically log onto your Wi-Fi network when their Windows 10 PCs are in range. With Wi-Fi Sense, they don’t need to enter a password to log on (if they have a Mac, iPhone or Android device, you’ll still have to give up your password).

And when your friends connect via Wi-Fi Sense, they won’t then, in turn, be able to share your network with their friends.

Wi-Fi Sense stores your Wi-Fi network password on a Microsoft server. It’s encrypted, so if a hacker were to break in, your password would appear as garbled text. And Windows 10 does not allow you to share access to corporate Wi-Fi networks that use special security protocols.

Why Wi-Fi Sense is a potential security threat

But what about that Outlook.com contact turned stalker? Do you want that person to have access to your network? Wi-Fi Sense doesn’t allow you to share your network with an individual — it’s either all your contacts or none of them.

When people gain access to your network, all kinds of bad things can happen: They can potentially hack into other devices connected to that network, including your computer and smartphone. They can potentially steal data off your devices, including photos, emails and other personal information.

Microsoft claims that if you share your home Wi-Fi network via Wi-Fi Sense, your contacts won’t have access to other computers, devices or files stored on your network. That’s accomplished by turning off a feature called “network discovery,” preventing your friends’ computers from seeing the other computers and gadget connected signed into your Wi-Fi network. That makes it more difficult — not impossible — for your hacker friend to steal your stuff.

A Microsoft spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Should you stop using it?

You’re probably safe using Wi-Fi Sense.

All these nightmare scenarios are possible … but farfetched. Even the worst-case scenario — a stalker using Wi-Fi Sense to steal your naked photos — would require that person to sit outside your house with a Windows 10 PC while he hacks into your network.

But if you do want to protect those naked photos and you shared your network via Wi-Fi Sense you can stop that. Windows 10 lets you do that in settings (it takes a few days to register). You can also opt your network out of Wi-Fi Sense entirely by adding the phrase “_optout” to the end of your Wi-Fi network’s name.

Article Provided By: CNN Money

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Cloud Solutions

 

Improved Communication, User-Friendly Features Are Part of Evolution of Fire Alarms Part 2


Improved Communication, User-Friendly Features Are Part of Evolution of Fire Alarms Part 2Evolution of Fire Alarms

Combine powerful information provided by field detection devices with the ability to capitalize on high-speed data transmission provided by fiber optic transmission media, wide-area and local-area networks, and you have fire alarm systems capable of sending very detailed information via Internet-based digital alarm communicator transmitters or direct networks to emergency responders or off-site monitoring locations with device specific detail.

Because the fire alarm industry knew little of professional sound and communication principles, early generation voice communications systems provided unintelligible notification messages that were solely used for fire alarm functions and fire department operations. The voice communications component of fire alarm systems has evolved such that, when designed properly, specifically routed messaging can deliver clear emergency and non-emergency messages, including music. This change required the fire alarm industry to realize that redundant voice communications systems (i.e., PA systems and music systems) could be replaced by fire alarm voice communications systems. Codes in place require the industry to supervise speaker circuits for integrity in the active state. In other words, while music is playing, the fire alarm system must be capable of identifying that a circuit has been damaged or broken. Today this capability is now commonplace for the major fire alarm system manufacturers.

Over the last 10 years, fire alarm systems have begun to evolve into multi-faceted mass communication platforms, largely as a result of terrorist events and government or military needs. These mass communication capabilities include fully intelligible voice messaging systems that can integrate textual signage. Multi-faceted mass communication plans can now draw on the fire alarm system to provide message outputs via text messaging, paging and email. Additionally, fire alarm systems can be seamlessly integrated with wide area mass notification systems that utilize high-power outdoor speaker arrays that can reach large geographical areas with highly intelligible messages.

More User-Friendly Features

All of this information must be difficult to navigate and use, right? Quite the opposite. New fire alarm control unit interfaces have capitalized on technology. Manufacturers are utilizing intuitive liquid-crystal displays and well-labeled switches that make navigating through all of this information as simple as using a smart phone. Manufacturers have integrated navigation wheels and touch screens to make navigation intuitive and closely parallel the electronic tools that we have all become accustomed to using daily.

Modern fire alarm systems have the ability to perform remote status querying, which ultimately improves user interface and allows facility managers to remotely, via the Internet, connect to their fire alarm system to interrogate its status. No alterations may be made remotely, but this interface has improved the ability of facility managers to interact with their fire alarm systems and dispatch the right maintenance assets quickly.

Article Provided By Facilitiesnet

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New fire alarm systems offer fewer false alarms Part 3

New fire alarm systems offer fewer false alarms Part 3

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer Fewer False Alarms


New Fire Alarm Systems Offer Fewer False Alarms

New fire alarm systems offer fewer false alarms than older outdated systems. Fire alarm systems of decades past suffered from the problem of “crying wolf.” Nuisance or false alarms conditioned building occupants to ignore fire alarm systems when they sounded an alarm. This pattern of response over the years has resulted in loss of life. As one would expect, the detection technologies have evolved with the fire alarm control units in an effort to address these reliability concerns.

Detectors installed only a few decades ago relied on a single technology to perform detection. A large majority of spot-type smoke detectors were ionization detectors that relied on a radioactive source to ionize the particles in the air and monitored the resultant electric potential in the sensor-housing atmosphere. Other detectors, also widely used, were photoelectric smoke detectors using LED light sources. However, because these spot-type detectors were relying on one method of detection, they were susceptible to nuisance alarm events.

Current addressable spot-type fire detectors have evolved to utilize microprocessor-based detection technologies that allow the detectors or the fire alarm control unit to make intelligent decisions about what they are sensing. Most large fire alarm manufacturers now produce detectors that monitor for multiple factors — the presence of combustion gases, an increase in temperature and the presence of smoke particles — to make a “big-picture” decision. State-of-the-art and innovative detection systems often have the ability to discriminate combustion products from nuisance sources such as steam and dusty environments.

These new detectors have dramatically improved the reliability and credibility of fire alarm systems. As false or nuisance alarm frequency is reduced, the public perception will hopefully improve. Some manufacturers now offer guarantees that smoke detectors will not activate unless there truly is a fire event.

Spot-type smoke detectors installed 20 years ago also required sensitivity testing. When dirt infiltrated the detector’s sensor housing, a nuisance alarm was often the result. Intelligent fire alarm systems have eliminated the need to perform sensitivity testing since the panel can track detector sensitivity. Additionally, intelligent detectors can track their factory sensitivity deviation and compare that sensitivity to degradation in performance as a result of dirt rather than a nuisance alarm; this condition is reported as a dirty detector. Building maintenance personnel can then address the dirty detector long before it results in an evacuation.

Linking Fire, Other Building Systems

Today, many manufacturers have developed fire alarm system integration methods with building automation systems that enable seamless communication among all building systems. These interfaces can use industry-standard building automation networking protocols that allow status sharing between systems. These capabilities as well as fire alarm system advancements enable smoke control, smoke exhaust, post-fire smoke exhaust systems, and automated fire compartmentalization to be controlled by one centralized system.

Article Provided By Facilitiesnet

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New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces

 

 

VIDEO PRICE-POINT PRESSURE

Video Price-Point Pressure- Arm Raised

Video Price-Point Pressure Intensifies

Video surveillance may be one of the most valuable segments in the security industry, but it is not without significant disruption as well as forces that are eroding equipment margins. In the first half of 2014, the sector grew faster than most others in security yet not at the rate analysts forecasted at the beginning of the year.

Imperial Capital estimates the video surveillance equipment market (excluding services, which roughly doubles the market size) grew about 14% to $12.5 billion. Networked video, in particular, continues to grow on a unit basis in the mid-teens to around 20%. Yet for all the gains in unit growth, the industry is increasingly experiencing a falloff in average equipment pricing. It’s difficult to gauge just how much, but the decrease is thought to be in the 5% to 10% range, and perhaps more.

So, are the valuations of higher quality, higher priced vendors taking a hit due to the low-cost competition in the eyes of public investors? Anecdotal evidence would suggest the answer to be yes for the time being.

During ASIS 2014, Imperial Capital hosted tours of leading public and private companies for public investors. Time and again throughout the show investors inquired about the potential pressure on gross margins from Asian camera vendors. They wanted to know the ramifications for leading video companies such as Axis Communications (OM: AXIS), Avigilon (TSE: AVO), FLIR Systems (NASDAQ: FLIR), Mobotix (DB: MBQ) and Vicon Industries (NYSE MKT: VII), and private companies such as Bosch, Pelco, DvTel, and Arecont.

Hence, Imperial Capital reasons if a manufacturer depends on cameras alone to drive value to the channel and to the customer, then it makes sense to expect gross margins will indeed come under pressure. “Good enough” is a tough competitive hurdle for higher priced manufacturers to contend with, but a firewall of sorts has materialized in the industry to protect market share and strengthen positioning.

Enter value proposition.

Price becomes much less of an issue for manufacturers and integrators alike if they can provide critical value to the end user through broader video solutions. Solutions, for example, that combine superior clarity, analytics that enhance security measures and business intelligence as well as installation efficiencies for the integrator. Also key, fostering trusted, long-term relationships with channel partners and end users.

Taking this concept even further, those companies that can successfully provide the marketplace with a holistic solution that combines software (VMS, analytics, etc.) and hardware (cameras, storage, etc.) in one integrated system are primed to become leaders in the space. Recent M&A activity (see sidebar) by former standalone companies demonstrates the rise of integrated video solutions.

In the year ahead and beyond, the industry can expect even more consolidation as companies jockey for market share by bringing broader solutions and functionality to bear.

The pricing turmoil is due to competition from China-based firms, namely Hikvision and Dahua but also Infinova, Vivotec and others. These firms are hit-ting a sweet spot by supplying the marketplace with lower-priced cameras that may not include all the feature sets as more expensive brands but are considered good enough by some end users, primarily in the residential and small- to medium-size business markets.

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Article provided by Security Sales & Integration