May 26, 2022

Last Updated on January 18, 2024

Entryway security options are evolving to deal with nontraditional needs in settings like hospitals, churches and universities. At the same time, physical security technology in general is merging with cybersecurity controls as “cyber-physical” devices like IP-connected security cameras proliferate across companies.

Many physical security systems are viewed in term of protecting an organization’s physical premises. But protecting the people within the structure is obviously even more important.

To discuss the benefits and drivers for breaking down silos between physical security and cybersecurity, and to explain how the latest entryway security technology works, Chris Ciabarra, Co-Founder and CTO at Athens Security, joined a recent episode of The Virtual CISO Podcast. Hosting the show is John Verry, Pivot Point Security CISO and Managing Partner.

It’s about concealed weapons

The latest entryway security systems, like Athena Security’s concealed weapon detection system, focus on detecting “mass casualty threats” such as handguns, shotguns and rifles. These walk-through systems are much faster than older systems. They are also much better at ignoring harmless personal items like phones, watches, belts and batteries.

Another huge benefit of the Athena Security technology is its portability. Chris explains: “These things are portable, so you can take them anywhere you want. That’s awesome when you travel and need protection. So, you can definitely have a solution for meetings, especially board meetings at your facility. And if you’re traveling, you should have some kind of solution because you don’t want someone to shoot up the crowd when you’re in the middle of a meeting, as people come into an event, or while an event is in progress.”

No implementation standards

While there are US government standards that equipment must meet to be called a metal detection or weapons detection system, there are no standards for how to physically implement a metal detector so that it’s secure from cyber threats. In this regard, the market is lagging behind smaller and less critical IoT devices like baby monitors.

“Alright, we’re going to protect the IoT devices—the hell with the people,” quips John.

“That will definitely change soon, I’m sure,” Chris replies.

Drivers for implementing weapons detection

As Chris notes, far and away the top driver for implementing a portable, IP-connected weapons detection system is an incident at a company facility, in the area or impacting an industry peer.

“That’s when everyone wakes up and says, ‘Oh, boy, we need to do something about this,’” says Chris. “Like, I was just in New York City at a church. There was an incident at a church, and all the churches in the neighborhood are getting them.”

An incident can range from simply finding a weapon to a full-blown shooting.

“Hospitals, same thing,” relates Chris. “Someone comes into the ER from a gang shooting, and all the other gang members come in, and now there’s a shootout in the ER involving two gangs. It’s a nightmare for these hospitals.”

According to Chris, organizations at risk need to be proactive instead of waiting for something to happen and then taking protective measures. Incidents can be prevented if systems are in place to protect employees, visitors, customers, etc.

What’s next?

To listen to this thought-provoking podcast episode with Chris Ciabarra from Athena Security click here.

How aware are your prospective vendors about IoT device security? This blog post will support your due diligence: IoT Device Security: What to Look for from Vendors

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