All Posts By

Brian Matthews

Cloud Mobility & Convenience

By | Feenics Blog | No Comments

It is an experience we’ve all been through dozens of times. There is a new app out for our mobile phone, it could be for our latest credit card, our bank, hotel rewards program, email, or just the weather. We download it, enter a username and password, agree to the terms and maybe fill out a few more fields.

So, when we see a demo for that new access control and security management platform, we are shown the “mobile app” and think that the user experience will be no different. We are lead to believe that it will work from anywhere. That if I’m home and I get the call that someone needs to be let in the door, or they lost their badge and I’ll simply open the app, deactivate the badge or open the door. Unfortunately, when the customer has a legacy on premises system, they learn that their “mobile app” doesn’t work when they need it the most.

This can be the case whether the legacy system is a standard windows server, embedded appliance or a simple low cost system all in one panel based system.  What isn’t articulated well in the product demonstration and selection process is that it is not a true mobile app out of the box.  In order for the “mobile app” to be truly mobile and work on any network, anywhere in the world there is a large burden that will require IT support to be done properly.  It may require setting up a cumbersome VPN connection for the app to work off network or configuring a web server and opening the right ports in the fire wall in able to connect to the server that sits inside the building.  All of this leads to more system cost, maintenance and security vulnerabilities.

That experience is the exact opposite of the true mobile apps that we all consume in our daily lives.  This is due to the delivery mechanisms built into cloud platforms.  The ease of use that we have come to expect from most mobile apps is what Feenics provides out of the box.  Feenics was built on the AWS cloud and provides an experience that customers and consumers have come to expect.

Finally tying convenience and mobility together should be a strong cyber security stance.  Mobile apps should be secure by design.  They should not require customers and consumers to go through steps in order to make the product work securely.  Encryption should be default and there should be no option to turn it off.  There should be no port forwarding or inbound ports in use or again IT will have security headaches to deal with.  Feenics provides a secure mobile app that performs without requiring any hassle on the part of our customers just as it should be.

Top 5 Fears of Cloud Computing

By | Feenics Blog | No Comments
The stage is set. Cloud computing continues to rise in deployments, with users citing economic advantages, speed, agility, flexibility, elasticity and ongoing innovation.
We’re entering the realm of “everything as a service” and that includes physical security provided by Cloud-hosted security management systems (SMS). Systems integrators who can successfully adopt and offer Cloud-hosted security and access control solutions will find themselves well-positioned for the future — with the ability to deliver a wide range of managed and remote services to vertical market customers — while boosting the overall value of their company in the process with sustainable recurring monthly revenue (RMR).

Research by Gartner predicts a substantial shift in information technology spending from traditional hardware and software to Cloud computing over the next five years, with that transfer set to total $1 trillion, according to the firm’s July 2016 findings.

The Cloud has been used for nearly a decade or more in banking and financial processes but one of the biggest objections still hindering full adoption may be an ongoing concern of data security and integrity. As such, there’s a necessary education process for both systems integrators and the end user customer to understand why Cloud-hosting is inherently safe, being “purpose built” for physical security communications and data exchange.
What fears are most commonly voiced by customers and prospects when it comes to Cloud-hosted SMS? Do you know how to address objections by potential clients? Here are the top five fears you may hear from prospects and the information you need to know to dispel lingering doubts.

1. The Cloud’s data may be easily compromised
Nothing is further than the truth. In fact, the Cloud is actually safer than non-hosted environments and its software programs have been specifically engineered for safe data transmissions for the physical security environment. Using the Cloud for access control and physical security management actually equates to heightened cyber and threat protection as opposed to traditional legacy, on-premises server systems.

With Cloud-hosted systems, a multi-layered design brings together data security and data access with added safeguards. A security management system designed from the ground up as a Cloud-based product begins first and foremost with software security. Hosted systems can follow what Microsoft refers to as SD3+C: Secure by Design, Secure by Default and Secure in Deployment in Communications. In addition, encryption further protects the transmission of data between the client and the Cloud-based server using modern Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and is something by default that most Cloud-based solutions provide. SSL is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client. SSL encryption, 2048 bit, secures the data connection as opposed to easily hacked Open SSL protocols.

In addition, the most secure Cloud-hosted access control systems also utilize IP Client. Systems with IP Client use outbound ports at the user’s site instead of inbound ports, which greatly reduces the risk of security breaches and data compromise. With IP Client, the IT staff does not have to enable any inbound network ports or set up port forwarding. This helps keep the network secure and lowers the management workload on IT.

Finally, some hardware providers enable Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption which allows the server and client to authenticate each other and to negotiate an encryption algorithm and cryptographic keys before data is exchanged. In Cloud hosting, manufacturers auto-negotiate the TLS encryption with the controller boards as they initiate contact with the server.

2. Passwords make Cloud-hosting vulnerable
That’s definitely true — when it comes to non-hosted solutions. Passwords can be guessed, recycled or written down and all these factors could compromise the security of an access control system. However, secure, Cloud-hosted solutions don’t use default user names and passwords. Instead each hosted system is issued a unique password and can also provide additional security with two-factor authentication which can be attached to the log-in credentials of any user for an added layer of security. With two-factor authentication user accounts are linked with a second source of verification, i.e. Google authenticator, which generates a code based on a timer or counter. Users must provide this code upon entering their user name and password, which means a perpetrator would need three things in order to access the system: user name, password and access to open the device which generates the two-factor authentication code.

3. Management of Cloud software takes an IT tech
Quite the contrary: once it’s set up, no additional work has to be done. A SaaS access control solution can automatically eliminate the threat of the user losing data due to negligence or being too busy to regularly backup the database. An SMS hosted in the Cloud provides regular, automatic upgrades, daily database backups and full redundancy, eliminating the risk of having all data stored on site.

A reliable product will also provide multi-layered redundancy, meaning that multiple “write” transactions are provided. If the primary database goes down that data would exist at another location and brought back online. A second layer would be point-in-time recovery. This allows the user to restore or recover data or a particular setting from a time in the past, including history reports and recent access control transactions. If the user accidentally deletes records it only takes a quick tech support call to revert the system back to a time point before the error happened.

4. Cloud hosted systems don’t readily scale and can’t integrate legacy components
The Cloud actually provides greater flexibility and scalability of applications, and that equates to better business agility. These solutions offer a more convenient route for both small-to-medium businesses as well as enterprise customers who don’t have to go through the complexity of designing and deploying an on-premises server system.

With off-site hosting, there are no servers or appliances necessary at the customer site. This saves time and money and allows customers to future proof themselves from obsolete technology. In addition, Cloud-based SMS systems offer nearly infinite scalability, from smaller systems to large national/enterprise accounts. Cloud-hosted access control is in most cases a platform that can grow to an infinite number of access points, limited only by the controller’s hardware specifications.

Finally, with legacy equipment and Cloud-hosted solutions, the user isn’t forced into a total rip and replace. Cloud-hosted access control systems are most often hardware agnostic and can be configured for communication with many legacy devices already on site.

5. End users will balk at the price tag
Cloud-hosted solutions actually offer a lower total cost of ownership over the life of the solution. Most users don’t consider the true cost of an on-premises system which includes servers, racks, power and cooling costs, labour hours by the IT staff, operating system updates, firewall configurations, necessary VMware, etc. All these little nuances add up big.

In addition, with offsite Cloud hosting customers don’t need a dedicated IT person to administer programs and configure operating systems, databases and applications. These expenses and ongoing maintenance are alleviated as they are handled by data centres in the Cloud. Users also have access to all software functionality housed in the Cloud and can select the portions they want to manage, such as badge creation and decommissioning of access control permissions. They have choices: the option of having the systems integrator manage the solution, or, administer the system themselves with their choice of connected device, including desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Integrators get the bonus of managed services, which allows them to perform maintenance and service remotely, which equals lower costs for users as opposed to paying for a service call or onsite visit. And, as a tiered solution, customers can expand without costly jumps from entry level to enterprise solutions.

Finally, users will be attracted to the possibility of being able to budget effectively with Cloud-hosted services, which move physical security from a large initial capital outlay or capital expense to an operating expense which can be planned and budgeted for easily.

Today’s systems integration is all about delivering service. And there’s no better way to deliver service in a highly flexible and scalable environment than Cloud-hosting. Cloud hosting for physical security and access control management is a sophisticated, yet user-friendly solution that provides tangible benefits to both systems integrators and end users. The challenge lies in understanding the technology and what it can do and conveying benefits to the customer.

by Brian Matthews-Director of Sales at Feenics, Inc.

3 SUREFIRE WAYS TO SELL YOUR CUSTOMERS ON CLOUD-HOSTING

By | Feenics Blog | No Comments

Point out the positives, including inherent security, back up and scalability

It’s hard to get your customers to change their way of thinking about integrated security solutions, because quite frankly no one likes change. It can be uncomfortable and the thought of the unknown can often set heads spinning and relegate new technology discussions to the sideline.

Customers are beginning to become more accustomed to cloud computing, but there is still work to be done in educating prospects on all the benefits of cloud-hosted security management platforms. Here are three surefire ways get users on board with the cloud in your sales efforts:

#1 – Focus on the stability and security in cloud-based security and access control

Probably one of the biggest objections to cloud computing systems integrators hear from their end-user customers is that they are concerned about the security of data transmissions. Using the cloud actually brings more cyber security and resiliency to specifications than traditional legacy, on-premises server systems. That’s because with the cloud’s multi-layered design, data security and data access come together seamlessly with added safeguards. A security management system (SMS) designed from the ground up to be a cloud-based product begins first and foremost with software security. Hosted systems can follow what Microsoft refers to as SD3+C: Secure by Design, Secure by Default, Secure in Deployment and Communications.

#2 – Explain that all basic safeguards and more come naturally to Software as a Service

Secure cloud-hosted solutions don’t use the ever-vulnerable default user names and passwords. Each hosted system is issued with a unique password, which is the first step in providing a secure solution to the user. Two-factor authentication, encryption and SSL certifications in cloud-hosted SMS also make data more secure. Two-factor authentication can be attached to the log-in credentials of any user for an added layer of security.

“Systems integrators need to continue to educate end-users on the inherent security and business efficiencies of using a cloud-hosted security and access control platform.”

User accounts are linked with a second source of verification, i.e. Google authenticator, which generates a code based on a timer or counter. Users must provide this code upon entering their username and password, which means a perpetrator would need three things in order to access the system, the user name, the password and access to open the device which generates the two-factor authentication code. Encryption further protects the transmission of data between the client and the cloud-based server using modern Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The same technology is used to secure credit card information, social security numbers and log-in credentials. SSL encryption, 2048 bit, secures the data connection as opposed to easily hacked Open SSL protocols.

#3 – Talk about the cost savings and productivity that come with the cloud

The cloud is flexible and scalable and fosters business agility. With off-site hosting, there are no servers or appliances necessary at the customer site. This saves time and money and allows customers to future proof themselves from obsolete technology. You can access the SMS from any computer, tablet or laptop with an Internet connection. In addition, you don’t need additional IT staff on site, as experts are on site hosting your solution. Daily database backups and full redundancy are inherent with true cloud-based solutions, eliminating the risks of having all data stored on site. In addition, the latest software version and upgrades are automatically downloaded so that saves customers the headache of needing someone on staff to do those changes. With the cloud, the customer only pays for what they use, especially attractive with expensive software licenses. That also gives them the ability to scale up or down as necessary.

Systems integrators need to continue to educate end-users on the inherent security and business efficiencies of using a cloud-hosted security and access control platform. Once they ‘get it’ you’ll elevate the value proposition of your company and stand out from the competition, adding more customers in the process.

Brian Matthews

Director of Sales

Brian Matthews brings years of customer-facing security industry business development and sales experience to Feenics as Director of Sales. Formerly with Lenel, his responsibilities spanned the company’s consultancy program as well as included managing a new Inside Sales Department for the combined Interlogix-Lenel business.