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Need for cybersecurity soaring

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

If you aren’t that worried about cybersecurity and the threat of a ransomware attack, you should be.

According to a new report, “State of Ransomware,” which was sponsored by Malwarebytes and conducted by Osterman Research, nearly 40 percent of businesses have experienced a ransomware attack in the last year. Of these victims, more than a third lost revenue and 20 percent had to stop business completely.

And that doesn't even include the companies that aren't reporting being attacked. According to FBI Section Chief Philip Celestini, who was a featured speaker at ESX 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas, 80 percent of companies that have been attacked by ransomware “are not reporting it to law enforcement,” he said. The FBI is reaching out to the industry, Celestini said, for its help in spreading the word of the importance of cybersecurity and working with law enforcement to minimize loss.

According to the FBI, ransomware attacks went from causing $25 million in losses to $200 million in just the last year in the U.S., as well as an astonishing $2 trillion in cyber crime losses worldwide.

According to Nathan Scott, senior security researcher at Malwarebytes and a ransomware expert, over the last four years, “ransomware has evolved into one of the biggest cybersecurity threats in the world, with instances of ransomware in exploit kits increasing 259 percent in the last five months alone. Until now, very few studies have examined the current prevalence and ramifications of actual ransomware incidents in the enterprise.”

Some other key U.S. findings from the study include:
- Security attacks with ransomware are increasing: Nearly 80 percent of U.S. companies have suffered a cyber attack in the last year and more than half experienced a ransomware incident. US organizations are the most attacked among the countries surveyed.
 - Email is the top vector for spreading ransomware: More than half of the U.S. attacks originated with email.
- Upper management and C-Level executives are at a higher risk: 68.4 percent of U.S. respondents noted ransomware attacks impacted mid-level managers or higher, while 25 percent of incidents attacked senior executives and the C-Suite.
- Cybercriminals held high-value data for ransom: Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. organizations breached had high-value data held for ransom.
- Attacks are impacting more than initial endpoints: More than 40 percent of ransomware attacks in all four countries were successful in impacting more than a single endpoint, with nearly 10 percent of the attacks affecting more than one-quarter of the endpoints in the business.
- Current enterprise security measures are weak against ransomware: Almost half of ransomware incidents in the U.S. occurred on a corporate desktop within the enterprise security environment.
- Ransomware remediation takes hours: 44 percent of attacks on U.S. companies forced IT staff to work more than nine hours to remediate the incident. Globally, the figure is 63 percent of incidents that took more than nine hours to remediate.

Tunstall offers no-cost temperature monitoring

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tunstall Americas announced its new Vi+ personal emergency response system earlier in the month, with an integral sensor for ambient temperature. Yesterday, the company announced that extreme temperature monitoring will be provided free of charge to its subscribers.

“Record breaking heat across the United States this summer prompted Tunstall Americas to offer Temperature Extremes monitoring free of charge to subscribers of their home based medical alert service,” the company said in the release.

“Environmental changes indicate that the frequency and severity of heat waves will continue. We are pleased that we are in a position to offer this potentially lifesaving benefit to our current and future subscribers of our Vi Medical Alert System at no additional cost,” Casey Pittock, president and CEO of Tunstall Americas, said in a prepared statement.

The system will look for temperatures either above 89 degrees Fahrenheit or below 50 degrees, at which point the subscriber or caregiver will be notified.

Extreme temperatures specifically concern many of the typical PERS users. “Tunstall’s core base of subscribers, the elderly, individuals with chronic conditions, and other at risk populations have been reported to be the most vulnerable to extreme heat related illness,” the company said.

Tunstall Americas operates its own monitoring centers in New York and Rhode Island. 

COPS Monitoring packs backpacks with Mission 500

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

It’s been great to see more companies becoming involved with charity work with Mission 500. Coming up next week, on Aug. 10, is an event held in partnership between COPS Monitoring and Mission 500 to benefit schools and the surrounding communities nearby the monitoring center’s office in Boca Raton, Fla. 

Mission 500, COPS, as well as security software company Segware and the Latin American Security Association, are putting together backpacks for students of Crosspointe Elementary School. These would include including supplies like scissors, crayons, pens, pencils, erasers, and rulers.

“We are so proud to once again be partnering with COPS and Mission 500,” Crosspointe Elementary School’s principal Annmarie Dilbert said in a prepared statement. “They are filling a huge need for our students and their families by providing a backpack full of school supplies to every Crosspointe Elementary student.”

“It is important to help fill the immediate need of providing children with the school supplies that will give them the ability to start the school year off right,” Jim McMullen, president & COO of COPS Monitoring, said in the announcment.

“We also hope to positively affect our community in a lasting way by offering stable employment and benefits,” McMullen said. The backpacks will each include a note from COPS on employment opportunities at the company’s Boca Raton office.

COPS Monitoring held a similar event in September 2015, packing 700 backpacks for a Title 1 school in Boynton Beach Fla.

Also in recent news with Mission 500, the organization will be working this weekend with Monitronics to put on a charitable 5k.

I look forward to hearing about more companies using this model of partnering with Mission 500 and their local communities.

Cloud+ educational program announced

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Check out the lineup of speakers and educational sessions for this year's Cloud+ Here's a link to the program, and it's also copied and pasted below.

We are super excited about bringing Cloud+ to the hippest tech hub in the country, Austin, Texas on Nov. 29 and 30.

We'll be announcing more speakers, including a swell outside-of-the-security-industry keynote speaker, in the next week. We're just crossing some final Ts and dotting the last Is on that.

You can get yourself registered by clicking here.


Stay tuned!

The cloud chasm

Moving from a traditional security system to a cloud-based security system often still requires a hurdle. Why did this corporate end user decide to go with a cloud-based system in his nine-story facility even though three systems integrators advised going with a traditional system? In this session, an end user, manufacturer and consultant discuss how to get across the cloud chasm and the benefits of doing so.

Mark Scaparro, SVP Sales, BluBØX
Ray Bernard, President and Principal Consultant, Ray Bernard Consulting Services
Moderated by Martha Entwistle, editor, Security Systems News

How national integrators approach cloud

Three leading national integrators talk about how their companies are approaching cloud. What’s their strategy? What are they focusing on?

John Hudson, TycoIS, Regional Director, West Region
Jeremy Brecher, SVP Technology and Chief Information Officer, Securitas Electronic Security
Joe Young, Director, Cloud Monitoring Services, G4S Secure Integration
Moderated by Martha Entwistle, editor, Security Systems News

Finance in the cloud

An update on the M&A report that John Mack gave at Cloud+ 2015, followed by a targeted Q&A.

John Mack, Executive Vice President and Co-Head of Investment Banking and Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Imperial Capital
Moderated by Martha Entwistle, editor, Security Systems News

Bandwidth: The elephant in the cloud

As the former Chief Security Officer for Amazon, Ed Bacco knows what it's like to be sitting in the end user's chair. This unique Cloud+ session will ignite the fireworks in a role-play approach, with Bacco playing an end user who wants to move to the cloud, but is having trouble getting around the inherent limitations. A group of experts—data center executive; VMS provider; fiber/cable service provider (the elephant); and a security integrator—join Bacco to attempt to solve the challenge.

END USER: Ed Bacco, Chief Security Officer, Aronson Security Group
DATA CENTER: Dean Drako, CEO, Eagle Eye Networks
INTEGRATOR: Scott Schmidt, Vice President of Technology, Aronson Security Group
VMS PROVIDER: Reinier Tuinzing, Strategic Alliances Manager, Americas, Milestone

Central stations in the cloud

What are the benefits of taking your central station business to the cloud? Leading systems integrator, Jeffrey Nunberg, CEO of Integrated Security Systems in Miami, moderates a discussion where he will be asking the hard questions that all integrators want answered: How is it done? What are the options? Which integrators will benefit the most from moving monitoring to the cloud? What kind of the front-end investment is required and what kind of ROI should integrators and end users expect?

Cliff Dice, CEO, DICE Corp.
Rodney Thayer, Consultant, Smithee, Spelvin, Agnew & Plinge
Moderated by Jeffrey Nunberg, CEO, Integrated Security Systems

Cloud add-ons

You don't need a complete cloud-based security system to take advantage of some of the benefits offered by the cloud. This session will examine options such as video analytics, health monitoring and data analytics.

Cloud and mobility

Description coming soon!

Moderated by John Szczygiel, EVP and COO, Brivo Systems

Midwest Alarm expands into Nebraska

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa—Midwest Alarm Services, a provider of life safety systems based here, has acquired Electric Specialties Company of Omaha, Neb., a company that also specializes in life safety systems, including service, inspection and monitoring services to more than 350 customers.

The terms of the deal between the two companies were not disclosed.

Established in 1950, Midwest Alarm Services became part of Per Mar Security Services through an acquisition in 1998, which allowed the then small company an opportunity for growth, including the opening of an office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and an office to service the Quad Cities, which stretched Midwest Alarm Services territory into eastern Iowa and western Illinois.

Doug Richard, president of Midwest Alarm Services, said that he is “very excited” to expand the company’s footprint now into Nebraska, and looks forward “to growing with the great team that is already in place” there.

Herk Campbell, who will be joining the Midwest Alarm Services team along with his employees, founded Electric Specialties Company in 1983. The company is a Notifier dealer, and provides life safety systems and services including card access systems, fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers/hoods, fire inspections, master clock systems, monitoring, nurse call systems, system design/layout and video surveillance.

Campbell said that Midwest Alarm is the “perfect fit” for his company.

Note: Check back for more on this story, including an interview with Midwest Alarm Services president Doug Richard.

A voice on the PERS market

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HOBOKEN, N.J.—Voice activation has been an interesting topic that I’ve seen coming up more frequently when I hear about PERS—most recently when I spoke with Ritch Haselden, VP of sales at Essence Group, this week about Essence’s upcoming products, and what it takes to include voice activation. 

One of the things he highlighted in the company’s product roadmap is Essence’s VPD, and Haselden told me a lot about what went in to setting up voice capabilities in the company's VPD—standing for Voice Panic Detector. "The VPDwill be available for purchase this summer and is expected in the next few weeks," Haselden said.

“What that’ll allow somebody to do is be able to activate a pendant by saying a particular phrase of a particular series of words,” he said. The product is always listening for a particular phrase, he said, and when it hears that phrase it would act like a button press on the PERS unit.

Haselden said that, further on down the road, Essence could use voice activation to open up two-way dialogue with the central station.

The company has been testing the phrase “Call 911,” Haselden said. The process of picking a phrase to test was intensive, he said, making sure that it wasn’t common enough to be said in everyday conversation or on the television, but still easy to remember.

Testing involved a large variety of different people, saying the test phrase, “Call 911,” in a variety of pitches. “We’ve been testing in all kinds of different scenarios to make sure that we’re really getting down to a really quality product that provides a low rate of false alarms,” he said.

Essence would consider customized phrases for different companies if they requested such, Hasleden said, “Our process internally is we would at least test that phrase, but we’re definitely going to provide a lot of feedback and information on: Is that a phrase that (A) people can remember, (B) that people can actually articulate well, and (C) does the technology differentiate the words well enough so that it provides a solid response.” 

Industry alarmed about overtime pay rule

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently submitted revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that would raise the salary threshold for earning overtime pay. Presently, only those employees making less than $455.00 per week are eligible for overtime compensation. The DOL’s new rule increases this eligibility minimum to any employee making less than $913.00, an increase that many in the security industry and on Capitol Hill feel will put a financial strain on businesses, which are supposed to comply by DOL’s implementation date of Dec. 31, 2016.

ESA has actively spoken out against DOL’s overtime rule, and ESA president Marshall Marinace said that ESA “objects strenuously” to the legislation, as it “will have a real consequence on employees not anticipated by the DOL.”

ESA supports efforts of Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who recently introduced joint resolutions to block implementation of the Overtime Rule. Senate Joint Resolution 34 was introduced on June 7, 2016, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. In addition to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as a cosponsor, the resolution has already attracted over 43 senators to support its passage. The House version, House Joint Resolution 95, has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce with 22 House members as cosponsors.

“Our nation’s overtime rules need to be modernized, but the Department of Labor’s extreme and partisan approach will lead to damaging consequences that the American people simply cannot afford,” Rep. Foxx said. “This resolution will protect workers, students, small business owners, and vulnerable individuals from a rule that will do more harm than good.”

SSN would like to hear what you, our readers, think of the overtime rule, including the possible impact it could have on your businesses.

Note: SSN continues to report on this story. Please check back for an interview with ESA government relations director John Chwat.

ItsPayd partners with Rapid Response

Wednesday, July 20, 2016, a company that makes an application to help dealers collect past due payments, recently added Rapid Response Monitoring as its first Affiliate Partner Program member, a program that specifically applies to companies with a central station.

The application uses text messages and emails to notify customers of past due balances and gives them a link to either send a one-time payment toward that balance or set up a payment plan, depending on their contract.

The idea behind ItsPayd is to help companies with collecting past due payments, but in a more friendly way that preserves the customer relationship and ultimately reduce attrition. “We can actually have the greatest impact on improving customer experience at the least likely moment, and that’s at the past due space,” Ken Green, company CEO, told Security Systems News.

“We’ve got one of our customers, who’s a [security] dealer—they’ve reduced attrition by 40 percent,” Green said. “We’ve recovered over 50 percent for them within the first 30 days.” The company benefited even more by maintaining the relationship and keeping these customers on, he said. does about 90 percent of its work with security companies, mostly security dealers and monitoring centers.

Rapid dealers receive discounts on ItsPayd’s monthly subscription fee, through Rapid being a part of the Affiliate Partner Program. The Affiliate Partner Program specifically applies to third party monitoring centers and full-service companies with central stations.  ItsPayd is currently looking to get more members in the program, according to Green.

ItsPayd is currently working on an integration platform with MKS, to be completed around the end of the summer, Green said. 

ItsPayd was founded last year and went to beta with its product in August 205. The company went live with its offering in January 2016.

Avigilon makes some changes to its $240m facility

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Video surveillance and access control provider Avigilon on July 18 filed documents to amend its existing $240 million multi-tranche senior secured syndicated credit facility. Security Systems News has previously reported on this credit facility. Originally closed on April 7, 2015, the facility's maturity date has been extended from April 7, 2018 to April 7, 2019.

I spoke to Avigilon's Darren Seed about the deal. Among the changes is one item which ups the price of a "permitted acquisition" from $30 million in the old deal, to $40 million in the new deal. Is Avigilon poised to buy a start-up for $31 million?

Seed said one shouldn't read anything into the small changes in the deal. He characterized this amendment and others as simple housekeeping. The extension was made at a very nice rate, he said, it made good business sense for Avigilon to take advantage of the terms offered. 

Avigilon designs, develops, and manufactures video analytics, network video management software and hardware, surveillance cameras, and access control solutions.

ADT gets into the Ring

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ADT announced earlier this week that the Ring video doorbell is now available for its customers nationwide. While the Ring has made some noise in the smart doorbell category, there are many options to choose from when it comes to this first-line-of-defense product for homeowners.

Others who have had success with doorbell cameras include Vivint, Skybell and August, to name just a few.

As more and more consumers begin to embrace smart home products like the video doorbell, dealers are adding these devices to their security and home-automation offerings, and partnering and integrating with others to provide a complete home automation and security package.

For example, ADT customers can incorporate the Ring video doorbell as part of their ADT Pulse smart home security system and lock their door, turn on their lights, and activate their ADT security system directly within the Ring app, all while seeing who is at the door.

Similarly, Vivint’s Doorbell Camera, which won a 2016 Innovation Award from the Business Intelligence Group earlier this year, works with its smart home platform, so homeowners can engage in two-way conversations with visitors on their doorsteps from their mobile devices, while simultaneously using Vivint’s smart home technology to remotely unlock the front door, open the garage door, disarm their security system, for example.

On the supplier side, SkyBell, which was nominated for a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award, has integrated with Nest, Amazon Echo, Honeywell,, Monitronics, Kwikset, Icontrol Networks and IFTTT, all in an effort to allow complete control of a homeowner’s security and smart home system.

And the August Doorbell Cam is part of the August Smart Home Access System, so all of the August Home products, along with its app, work together. August is also integrating with other companies, such as Honeywell, which recently integrated the August Smart Lock with its Total Connect 2.0 Remote Services platform.

For many homeowners, the video doorbell is their first-foray into smart home technology, and it is helping to drive the continued growth of other security cameras and smart home devices and apps. 

In fact, new research that came out this week from Parks Associates estimates that nearly 24 percent of U.S. broadband households will have an IP camera by 2020, while more than 50 percent will have a smart home controller and 26 percent will have a home security system.

What this study and others like it are finding is interest in products like the video doorbell is driving consumer interest in security, which can only benefit security dealers moving forward.