SJA Exclusive: The key takeaways from ISC West 2023

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Editor of Security Journal Americas, Victoria Rees, attended ISC West, held at the Venetian Expo in Las Vegas on 28 – 31 March. Here, she rounds up some of the main talking points from the educational sessions. 

Security professionals from across the world came together in Las Vegas last month for ISC West 2023 to network, learn and discover the latest technologies from the industry. 

It was fantastic to see so many people throughout ISC West, whether in conversation on the exhibit hall floor or intently listening to the insightful discussions held by influencers and experts during the educational sessions. 

In the first session I attended at ISC West 2023, Michael Martin, Co-Founder and CEO of RapidSOS led the discussion on “Saving Lives with Intelligent Data: A Deep-Dive into Security incidents and 911 Response”, while Ed Parkinson, President, Public Sector at RapidSOS, Laurene (Laurie) Anderson, E911 Coordinator at the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Bob Finney, Director of Communications Technology at Collier County Sheriff’s Office shared their thoughts on the topic. 

One subject they discussed in particular was staffing in 911 call centers. As Anderson revealed, all centers in the US operate slightly differently and this can range drastically. Finney added that “staffing has always been a difficulty for 911 centers,” making processes extremely complex to implement on a wide scale. 

“Like other industries, 911 call centers are seeing – and are having to keep up with – a lot of technical advancements, meaning that more data can be provided,” said Finney. “For example, data can come in from state-of-the-art alarm systems. So the question is, when there are fewer staff, how can you process all this data?” 

Anderson also highlighted the potential difficulties of getting people to accept technological change. However, Finney replied that the answer is to ensure data is easier to assimilate, to identify what is actually important and only pass vital information on to teams. 

Parkinson agreed, saying that the “data flow is so crucial because it helps the right information get to the right person.” 

In another session at ISC West, Joey St Jacques, Director of Business Development at ACRE Operating Group and Jamshed Patel, Vice President, Value Engineering at AlertEnterprise discussed “Breaking Down Silos in the Convergence of Physical and Cyber Security”. 

“It’s important not just to manage risks and to mitigate them, but to predict them so you can prevent them from happening,” said Patel. 

St Jacques also noted that C-suite executives are now asking about how safe their systems actually are. From a physical and cybersecurity perspective, he emphasized the importance of conveying the situation in a language that others can understand. 

However, one major point that both Patel and St Jacques made was that security is now becoming more of a business-enabler – it is no longer simply a cost center and the convergence of physical and cybersecurity is allowing for better ROIs. One way to ensure this, they highlighted, is through automation, which can improve business processes. 

A challenge that Patel revealed, however, is how to safeguard data. “The questions are: how do you aggregate the data that is coming in from different pools? Will you have a plan that allows you to take action?” 

Additionally, he said that up to 70% of all threats to an organization are insider threats, which can cause both financial and reputational damage. This is why he emphasized the importance of zero trust. 

“You want to make sure that people have access only when they need it and only for what they need it for,” he said. 

A further session at ISC West 2023 titled “From Data Dump to Gold Mine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Generate Actionable Insights from Access Control Data” was moderated by Sam Joseph, Co-Founder and CEO of Hakimo, who chaired the discussion with James Kendall, Director of Enterprise Engineering at SwiftConnect, Dustin Rabbach, Senior Manager of Security Operations, Corporate Security at Ricoh USA and Brendan McFall, East Coast Operations Manager at Northland Controls. 

Kendall began by saying that one of the largest challenges to security is that people do not know what they want from data or who should have access. 

Additionally, McFall said that having bigger picture conversations can help an organization to define what data needs to be collected, while Rabbach commented that AI and machine learning can be used in tandem with access control data, to provide information that can be utilized in a more useful way. 

The educational panels and talks at ISC West were overall a great success, revealing some of the most common trends in the industry and what security professionals need to be thinking about – evidenced by a high number of audience questions and interaction in each session.

However, one of the most frequent points highlighted throughout ISC West was just how much security can help a business overall – not just to ensure the protection of its services and employees, but to improve its operations and that demonstrating this to the rest of an organization is essential. 

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