EXCLUSIVE: Data-driven physical security comes of age


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Security Journal America speaks exclusively to Ajay Jain, Founder, President & CEO of Vector Flow.

Vector Flow’s CEO, Ajay Jain, is making waves in the security market but his background is firmly in clever technology ideas stretching back more than 20 years and he has a series of successful tech companies to his name.

“Vector Flow is dedicated to using machine learning and automation to deliver improved operational efficiencies – and effectiveness – across the entire physical security domain,” he says.

“Physical security systems operate in silo generally and often lack the technology rigor, do not interoperate much and are seldom managed well – leaving gaps in the security infrastructure. The data from these systems, if properly analyzed, speaks intelligently about the operational state and the inherent security gaps,” said Ajay.

“Our advanced cloud-enabled and on-premises platform converts raw physical security data from multiple sources into intelligent insights to drive operational performance and business results,” he told SJA.

“Leveraging the power of such available data and drawing Intelligence from it, we are streamlining the physical security industry and automating lots of tasks and workflows, identifying and addressing security gaps, delivering recommendations for improvements and making the hidden details of your operational state visible. Also, the data and machine learning models from these applications can easily be shared, analyzed and interoperated.

“Our suite of applications automate business processes, tasks and workflows to reduce security distractions and expand continuous intelligence – letting the customer focus on tasks that really matter to them.”

Ajay explained that one of the biggest challenges faced by security professionals today is the ability to harness and analyze the tremendous volume of data being generated by physical security operations. That data is not analyzed and largely thrown away or recycled today. However, that data has a lot of intelligence to it. This is their market opportunity.

“With the bulk of all this being unstructured data, new data-driven solutions are required to contextualize this disparate and fragmented information in a seamless way,” he says.

One of the reasons this presents such a daunting challenge is that physical security operations typically employ 15-35 different point systems and plethora of IoT devices, such as Physical Access Control Systems (PACS), video surveillance, intrusion detectors, biometrics, visitor management, dispatch, incident management systems, emergency notification and more.

“For the most part, these systems are not highly integrated and provide siloed views of activity which fails to provide a complete picture, precluding intelligent insights from being drawn since all the data is not being analyzed in the same context,” says Ajay.

The first step in resolving the fragmented challenge is to bring data from these otherwise disparate system technologies together onto a unified data platform. Our platform aggregates both structured and unstructured data from myriad systems, devices, logs and journals, performs real-time analysis to draw intelligence out of the raw data by applying smart AI algorithms to detect anomalies, trends and KPIs and provides actionable insights, automated remedies and processes.

“The next step is to understand how and where to use this newly found data intelligence to improve business processes,” he explains. “For example, can one apply data science to predict occupancy levels of a building or a floor?”

“Can one find out security gaps and risks in the physical security infrastructure which are attributable to humans, devices, systems and processes?”

“Can one use data intelligence and predict what physical security IoT sensors or devices will fail within 30 days and make the retroactive repairs as opposed to being reactive?”

There are dozens more examples, but the final requirement is to make this all very simple for users to consume.

Data science, the machine learning and the artificial learning can only work if the intelligence and insights from the myriad data sources are driven to the applications without heavy lifting or understanding of computer and statistical science. The Vector Flow system does all that heavy lifting in the background on its own.

Ajay set himself the challenge believing “it should be very easy for users to incorporate these applications into their security and business operations”. Vector Flow was born with the goal of revolutionizing the use of data from all these physical security systems.

The company was founded by Ajay Jain, who serves as the President and CEO and co-founded by Vik Ghai, who serves as the CTO as a physical security data automation software platform company. The founding team of Vector Flow pioneered the discipline of Physical Identity & Access Management in 2005, coining the term PIAM with Gartner and created the software category in 2006. Since then, it has become an industry standard with a compound annual growth rate of over 15.6%.  

Ajay said, “The theory was that rather than having myriad disjointed applications to support physical security operations, a single security operations platform with applications to support all such security pains in a holistic way was a better way to go. Future custom applications can be built faster, cheaper with full capabilities to extend and modify applications as business needs change. Not only does it save operational cost but catapults the discipline of automation and digitization of security operations to the next level.”

Previously, Ajay was the President and CEO of Quantum Secure, Inc. which was acquired by Assa Abloy / HID Global in 2015. Before that, Ajay founded Mokume Software, a real-time enterprise software company which was acquired by the then publically traded company – Versant Corp in 2002 and before that he founded MarketFirst Software, which was acquired by Pivotal.

So Ajay has a track record of building successful tech companies from scratch and holds a MBA from Santa Clara University and a MS in Computer and Information Science from Clarkson University.

So, what products does Vector Flow provide in 2022?

The company’s advanced cloud-enabled and on-premises platform utilizes advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to extract relevant intelligence from multiple data sources to drive operational performance and business results. Vector Flow provides three categories of products to the customers:

  • Physical Workforce Identity Suite (PIAM) provides insight-rich applications for automating all aspects of an identity lifecycle as it relates to the physical security domain. Vector Flow Workforce Identity Suite manages the entire lifecycle of an identity (employees, contractors, visitors, contingent workers, etc.) – from onboarding to off-boarding of an identity ensuring physical access compliance along the identity journey. The PIAM system manages and automates the playbooks, pre-requisites and circumstances in which users are granted (or denied) physical access rights to facility resources. The solution automates audit and compliance features, ensuring adherence to corporate regulations ensuring training, background checks and approvals governing physical access. 
  • Physical Security Threat Intelligence comprises of applications whereby the data is collected and processed from security logs, journals, transaction data, etc. to understand who the threat actors are and what are the compromised areas in the physical security infrastructure. This application focuses on the insider threat and compromised security endpoints such as door hardware or IOT devices. Companies benefit as this application helps prevent a cyber-attack due to, say, a weak configuration or encryption or deter an unwanted and unauthorized intruder or uncover an insider who may weaken the enterprise security posture.
  • SOC Automation Suite acts as a security nerve center, turning raw data into insights and actions. The application drives actionable intelligence from a customer’s historical and daily physical security data to reduce nuisance and false alarms by optimizing the configurations, enabling governance and compliance through automated playbooks and key performance indicators and providing a systematic way of managing security device health and driving preventive maintenance. This helps SOC teams, guarding staff and system integrators helping their end customers.

Ajay added, “Vector Flow solutions are the only ones available today that use a market-proven, scalable, data-driven and AI-powered physical security automation platform to automate business processes, tasks and workflows. Our solutions reduce security distractions and expand continuous intelligence – allowing security personnel to focus on tasks that really matter and make decisions faster.”

What makes Vector Flow unique?

“Vector Flow’s Data-Driven, Security Platform delivers key advantages over legacy PIAM applications,” he said. “These advantages are distinctly valuable to helping customers achieve business goals and deliver low cost of ownership and long-term value”. 

“Our platform is built on modern, microservices-based technologies to provide customers with a robust, future-proof technology that comes with Design Studios so the customer can make changes on their own as well as fully integrates with a customer’s existing environment and applications. The data-driven platform supports advanced AI/ML techniques and a real time data streaming engine to identify patterns and detect anomalies, make predictions and/or provide physical security-specific recommendations.”

And he has no qualms about pressing his advanced solution compared with existing providers. “Legacy players take an extended time to deploy their PIAM product with limited scalability, hard coded static rules, have done very little to ensure data integrity and are very rigid in customer-centric customization. These shortcomings create huge limitations. Vector Flow’s implementation is extremely fast with out-of-the-box playbooks that ensure business goals are achieved rapidly. The core software can be deployed on-premises, in a private cloud, or as a fully hosted solution. Vector Flow also enables customer specific customization via low-code Design Studios application that act as a workbench to build, modify and extend the application, ensuring data integrity throughout the life cycle.

“The Vector Flow application suite can be deployed in a matter of weeks versus months (or even years) that legacy players take. Our AI based Recommendation engine cuts down on time to deploy and manage the application and dramatically improve user experience.”

Market performance

Growth at Vector Flow has been phenomenal and success has come quickly to the software start up and like many in the security sector, the pandemic actually helped. Ajay said, “Since Vector Flow was founded in 2019, we have experienced tremendous growth, tripling our revenues every year since becoming market facing. Changes in US and global economy, ongoing pandemic and continued labor shortages have driven increased demand for automation, compliance and risk detection in physical security.

“Organizations need a better way to scale both their identity and their SOC operations and need to be confident that as they scale, they continue to safely mitigate risk and decrease costs. Several Fortune 500 organizations have realized the power that Vector Flow’s automated solutions provide and we are helping their physical security teams do more with less using data-driven automation.”

Vector Flow will continue to expand its market presence via strategic security channel partners and will continue to grow the company by providing benefits to its customer base. We recently launched a Threat Intelligence solution that leverages data from physical security IOT devices, systems and processes to measure risks in security infrastructure, conduct vulnerability management and provide remediation and visibility to cyber-physical breaches.

“As cyber and physical security worlds converge, traditional physical security threat detection and risk management tools are fast becoming obsolete. Having an aggregated view of data through a data-driven AI platform connects physical and logical worlds in an unprecedented way. This evolution of technology presents a real opportunity for physical security and cyber security teams to collaborate and revolutionize an organization’s approach to threat intelligence.”

Real-world results

Another way to measure success is to discover the users and Vector Flow’s data-driven solutions are already implemented at several Fortune 1000 companies. This includes a global telecommunications provider with over 450,000 active identities – the Vector Flow team replaced the legacy PIAM application with a new AI-enabled physical identity lifecycle application.

“That new solution promises to save millions of dollars in direct costs over the course of the contract while increasing overall security operations productivity, compliance to regulations and delivering valuable service to the enterprise,” said Ajay.

In another example, a top Research and Pharmaceutical company, focused on anti-viral drugs and treatments, deployed Vector Flow’s AI-enabled solution to streamline SOC operations, enable AI-driven device health prediction, reduce false and nuisance alarm counts and streamline SOC functions by establishing and measuring KPIs across all SOCs including compliance with newer regulations such as AB 685 & SB 1159 for building occupancy during Covid-19 times.

Another prominent networking products company reduced their false and nuisance alarm counts by over 80% with tangible ROI in a few months without any human touch or masking of any alarms. SOC alarm fatigue was also eliminated and SOC operations were streamlined with increased productivity and visibility across the globe. Data-driven physical security is already changing the landscape of the rapidly emerging physical cyber security landscape by applying the latest advancements in deep learning to automate physical security systems and operations. What we were once looking forward to as a futuristic solution has finally arrived.

For more information, visit: vectorflow.com

This article was originally published in the July edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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