5 Minutes about Cybersecurity: Steve Surfaro of Axis Communications
Steve Surfaro of Axis Communications spoke with Upside about the effect of connected devices on physical security, cybersecurity, and the future of the security industry.
- By James E. Powell
- November 15, 2016
Cybersecurity is a growing concern today across all sectors. Steve Surfaro from Axis Communications, a market leader in connected surveillance, spoke with Upside about the growth of IoT and the future of cybersecurity.
UPSIDE: You've said that enterprises are leveraging virtualization technologies to share data and get early threat detection for both physical and cyber threats. Can you expand on that?
Steve Surfaro: In recent years, we've seen the security industry leverage cloud-based storage and applications to deliver hosted security services. This model uses software-as-a-service to enable ubiquitous, on-demand access to resources, including the digital multimedia content suite, composed of video content, metadata, and audio.
It allows video data to be stored, analyzed, processed, and delivered in more efficient ways, including optimized for mobile devices. As a result, users have access to video data from a network of cameras that communicate peer-to-peer and become an intelligent security net, analyzing and tracking potential physical and cyber threats more efficiently and in real time. This allows security forces to use their workforce more efficiently, deploying personnel to areas where they are needed most.
What is the "Internet of Security Things?"
The Internet of Security Things is the convergence of physical security, cybersecurity, and mobility. There are a number of intelligent platform devices that are used for physical security and also qualify as Internet of Security Things devices. Surveillance cameras with built-in analytics, multifactor authentication-based access control, and alarm systems with false alarm reduction are all examples of the Internet of Security Things. These devices are now connected to the Internet, allowing the devices to collect and exchange data.
What actually defines an IoT device? Here are some simple parameters: Is the device capable of being remotely detected? Can you know what IoT devices and components are connected to a given network or system? Can the device become trusted and authenticated on a network? Can the device be updated and upgraded to enhance features, deliver data, and improve device security?
Why do you think the security industry is seeing many exciting innovations in IoT?
Many innovations in IoT -- whether they are consumer wearables or smart home solutions -- are about enabling greater convenience and ease of use.
With security, however, innovations are driven by the need to respond to more challenging and dangerous threats, both cyber and physical. Criminal and terrorist elements are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, requiring law enforcement to also attain a higher level of sophistication. For example, a police department can now use video surveillance, facial recognition, and vehicle license plate capture analytics to deploy personnel where they are needed most and respond appropriately to a threat.
What other technologies are becoming important in the security realm?
Audio is certainly an area that we are excited about. Today's network cameras have advanced audio analytics technology built in. They use audio analytics and acoustics to detect sounds such as vocal aggression, gunshots, car alarms, and breaking glass. When cameras detect these aggressive-type sounds, it helps authorities to take action quickly, with more intelligence.
More broadly, intelligent video is an area where we'll continue to see major innovations happening. Cameras record a massive amount of video, but most of it is never watched because security personnel don't have enough time to watch hundreds of cameras simultaneously.
Intelligent video uses analytics to track and send alerts to operators only when there is unusual or suspicious activity -- for example, unauthorized people moving through a restricted area. The use of next generation codecs, such as AXIS Zipstream, means less bandwidth and storage consumption and faster retrieval of video data.
You've said that the need for IT departments to oversee parts of physical security is greater than ever before. Why is that?
More IoT-based products are being introduced to the network. Employees bring their personal Fitbit trackers, mobile devices, smart watches, and other devices and add them to the network, in addition to smart thermostats and appliances. This is on top of networked surveillance cameras, alarm systems, and access control systems.
In order to secure the network, the IT department needs to work closely with the physical security and facility departments to establish policies for using the corporate network for these devices. IT will have greater oversight and influence on physical security technology implementations than ever before.
What is their role? Are other roles being impacted by IoT security?
It depends on the organization. In larger organizations, for example, the IT department is responsible for network storage. When cameras are added to the network, video content will consume network bandwidth and storage. IT needs to understand the storage requirements and limits of the surveillance system, as well as the camera technologies and applications, so that they can assist the organization in making smarter decisions.
The chief security officer (CSO) is also impacted. More than ever before, the CSO needs to have a solid understanding of both physical security and cybersecurity.
Where is cybersecurity headed? For example, will more environments be scrutinized, will more devices be installed?
As more devices become connected, cybersecurity will continue to focus on securing those devices and the network. Developers will need to devise better processes for establishing trusted access to the IoT, including server-based authentication.
Attack prediction will also be a big trend for the coming months. Being able to see network events before they occur and thereby prevent real problems is a huge benefit. Users will need to upgrade to cyber-hardened IoT devices and remove the vulnerable ones (for example, legacy DVRs).
Additionally, unifying IoT devices with information and event management defines a strong direction for enterprise cybersecurity in 2017. The new category of applications known as security information and event management (SIEM), or security intelligence, is an approach to comprehensive, event-based network security management. Organizations understand the need for SIEM, but usually choose business cases with regulatory compliance first, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, NERC CIP, and FISMA.
How fast will the growth of IoT surveillance be -- double the number of cameras in two years, for example?
In regards to IoT-enabled video surveillance, the growth of camera use will only be limited by one remaining factor -- infrastructure. Right now, major cities suffering from rising homicide rates are moving rapidly to reduce drive-by shootings, gang violence, and domestic terrorism by deploying intelligent surveillance devices.
Datacasting -- the repurposing of unused analog television transmission frequencies -- is being piloted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help large cities extend their video surveillance more rapidly and at lower cost.
Any final thoughts?
Being "selective" about what data we collect will not necessarily serve our needs in the future. Instead, we would benefit from ingesting unstructured data and understanding it by applying specialized cognitive processing engines in the cloud and embedded IoT devices that can be added and optimized later. We can use this insight to better identify trends and triggers.
About the Author
James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him
via email here.