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Genetec outlines core predictions for physical security industry in 2021

25 January 2021

UNIFIED SECURITY and business intelligence solutions developer Genetec has shared its Top Five predictions for the physical security industry in 2021. The trends centre on innovation, privacy protection, the risks posed around cyber security, trust in the supply chain and, last but not least, the growing demand among security professionals for hybrid cloud solutions.

While the world remains optimistic for 2021, organisations will need to remain creative about how they use, update and redeploy their security systems across their facilities. This will allow them to start thinking more broadly about the role of physical security and what it can do beyond traditional applications to deliver more value.

We’ve already seen proof of this resilience and resourcefulness over the last few months with many organisations quickly adapting to the new needs and challenges posed by COVID-19, using their physical security technology as a strategic tool in the fight against the pandemic.

In many ways, the extraordinary difficulties brought on by the current situation have placed an increased focus on the role and importance of the physical security industry. Once the pandemic is finally in the rear view mirror, Genetec believes organisations will continue to look at their physical security technology and related data as being both strategic and enterprise-shaping.

Focus on privacy protection

In an effort to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations rushed to implement ‘fever detection’ devices and other new sensors without necessarily having the time to consider privacy implications.

Public privacy concerns related to COVID-19 contact tracing and other social challenges will continue to grow. These sensitivities will require the physical security industry to address privacy head-on and find appropriate solutions.

Rather than hindering the development of new technologies, Genetec firmly believes that privacy will prove to be a driving force in the pursuit of responsible and innovative design, encouraging forward-thinking and ethical developers to embrace ‘Privacy by Design’ methodologies. This involves proactively embedding privacy into the design and operation of IT systems, networked infrastructure and business practices from the first line of code to the third party vendors selected for partnership and integration.

In the physical security industry, building a software solution from the ground up with privacy in mind means that organisations will not have to choose between protecting individual privacy and ensuring physical security. Privacy should always be the default option and security technology developers who take it seriously will gain distinct advantages (notably their customers’ trust).

Cyber security risks rising

While cyber security has been an issue for some time, it will unfortunately continue to be a vital concern in 2021. From schools and hospitals through to those private businesses and Governments affected, there has been a rise in cyber attacks over the last year. In Q3 of 2020 alone, Trend Micro reported that there were almost four million e-mail threats and over one million hits on malicious URLs related to COVID-19.

Much of this can be linked to the overnight shift towards remote working, which left companies scrambling to keep business running while also trying to secure corporate assets. This shift highlighted the fact that the traditional IT perimeter no longer exists.

Businesses, organisations and Governments will need to take decisive steps to strengthen their cyber posture or risk undermining the safety of their Intellectual Property, sensitive data and personal information. Choosing trusted vendors and deploying physical security solutions that come with layers of cyber defense is going to be critical.

Security teams understand that built-in encryption, multi-factor authentication and password management are the first lines of defense. Beyond that, taking advantage of other features such as cyber security risk scoring, system vulnerability alerts and automated reminders for firmware and hardware updates are significant advantages in this heightened risk environment.

Greater focus on trust

Physical security technology has become an integral part of an organisation’s IT strategy and, thankfully, is now under the same level of scrutiny as other elements of an organisation’s technology stack.

Some Governments are already discouraging the use of certain products from security manufacturers, citing trust and security vulnerabilities as the main sticking points. End users, and particularly so those operating in the enterprise space, are taking more time to scrutinise the manufacturers, suppliers and distributors with whom they choose to work. This includes asking vendors more pointed questions about how they manage emerging threats, how forthcoming they are about product vulnerabilities and their partner ecosystem and what their data and privacy policies look like.

For physical security solution providers to be considered reputable and reliable partners for their customers, they’re going to have to meet more stringent requirements as part of the procurement process.

Hybrid cloud solutions

According to Forrester’s recent report entitled ‘Predictions 2021: Cloud Computing Powers Pandemic Recovery’, global public cloud infrastructure will grow by 35% to a market value of $120 billion over the next year. As online usage and remote working spiked during the pandemic, a global shift towards digital transformation, which was already underway, greatly accelerated.

In order to thrive, physical security professionals will need to follow the lead of IT Departments. In the coming year, physical security leaders should let go of the either/or division between cloud and on-premises security systems and instead embrace a hybrid deployment model in their physical security infrastructure. This will allow them to implement specific systems or applications in the cloud while keeping existing on-premises systems.

With a hybrid cloud approach, security directors will become more agile in making decisions about how they can enhance scalability, redundancy and availability to suit evolving needs. They will also be able to quickly migrate to newer technologies, minimise hardware footprint, boost cyber security and reduce costs. Cloud offerings need to become an essential option for quickly adapting to changes and ensuring business continuity.