How to make the most of ISC West

The largest U.S. event for physical security, ISC West, is finally here. The International Security Conference and Exposition (ISC), is known for covering all facets of the industry, including access control, alarms, monitoring, biometrics, IP security, video surveillance, networked security products, and more.

If you’re attending as a non-exhibitor, it’s probably your job to keep up with what’s new and trending in the security industry. With technologies advancing more rapidly than ever before, and new companies popping up on your radar all the time, that can be a daunting task. Luckily, tradeshows like ISC West allow you to learn about new best practices and test out products that can make your job more effective.

This year, we expect a few buzzwords to be on the tip of everybody’s tongue. Terms like), “open platform,” “cloud,” “mobile access,” and “cyber security” are just a few aspects of new technology that will be unavoidable on the floor of ISC West, so it’s important for you to understand the significance and capabilities of each.

To help you out, we’ve come up with some tips for breaking down the buzzwords to differentiate between companies using them for marketing purposes to simply re-brand old technology, versus those defining an advanced, next-generation solution that brings real value to the industry. 

Tip #1: Ask about cybersecurity standards

When network protocols or encryption comes into a discussion, an important point to check on is standards. Ask companies what standard or version of network protocol is being used in their solution, because the use of outdated encryption and network protocols can lead to major cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

For reference, the use of 256-bit AES encryption, TLS 1.2 for HTTPS communications, and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) 3.0, are current IT standards to look for in most solutions. On the other hand, DES or Triple-DES/SDES, TLS 1.0 or any version of SSL, and SNMP 1.0 or 2.0 are typically outdated methods. Pay close attention to version numbers, as they are more important now than ever, and not all companies are keeping their products fully up-to-date.

Tip #2: Learn about new forms of facility physical access management.

Unfortunately, facility access management is an area of physical security that has lagged far behind the modern advancements of IT in previous years. However, that is beginning to change, and we expect to see a lot of companies approach it with fully mobile solutions. Take some time to learn about the newly available solutions because this segment of the security industry is on the cusp of a major transformation.

Tip #3: Understand the implications of open platforms.  

Find out if the solution you’re looking into has an open API (Application Programming Interface – how two applications communicate with each other), meaning that it’s published online and publicly available. If so, find out what type of API it is (RPC, SOAP, REST, etc.) and some examples of how it’s used for systems integration. Some APIs are used mostly by technology partners, whereas others can be particularly useful for IT department integrations with customer applications. No matter the use, having a published open API is the way forward, and a good indication of a forward-thinking company. 

Tip #4: Distinguish between various cloud characteristics. 

Applications designed to take advantage of cloud computing characteristics are much better than traditional server-based applications for various reasons. This is why an increasing number of companies in the security space are claiming to have a cloud-based offering. It’s also why it’s so important to know whether the solutions are fully-cloud based (cloud-native) or merely augmented by cloud-based services.

Cloud-native applications are the only way to achieve the cost-effectiveness and high performance required for large-scale systems, so be sure to ask the right questions to understand exactly what functionality resides in the cloud and why. This will help you quickly determine how well cloud engineering was applied to the company’s offering.