Tag Archives: Electronic Keys

Security challenges in telecoms sector met head-on by access control systems

As Catherine Laug explains, the telecoms industry has grown at such a remarkable rate that it’s now a key part of our everyday lives. At present, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented requirement for almost all industries to operate a ‘working from home’ policy and to provide the general public with an increased access to online services, in turn making the telecoms industry even more vital.

A major impact of this fundamental change is the presence of a growing number of telecoms facilities, which are proving to be the cornerstone of service delivery. Equipment is often located in isolated areas, so strict access control systems are needed to keep any vulnerability to an absolute minimum.

Telecoms companies cover vast expanses of land to keep the service up-and-running for their customers. This involves several tens of thousands of plants and facilities, from mobile phone towers through to street cabinets for the wired network. This underlines the value of a standardised access control strategy to simplify access to all sites.

Now, maintenance technicians no longer need to worry about accessing the numerous facilities during their daily inspection rounds. Once configured, single electronic key solutions guarantee access to the right place at the right time, allowing technicians to focus their attention on the task at hand.

Specific access processes

For their part, operators are assured that their field teams, often comprised of sub-contractors, can carry out all maintenance work during specified times in line with their specific access processes.

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Most of the facilities requiring protection are outdoor sites particularly exposed to wind, sun, snow and sea spray. That being so, access control systems must be able to withstand corrosion caused by bad weather. End users can now specify a certified and conceptual solution to this challenge with cylinders that meet the requirements of the EN 1670 corrosion resistance standard with a, IP66-67-68-69 rating designed to guarantee maximum protection.

In point of fact, the latest generation electronic keys also use inductive technology for contactless information exchange between the key and cylinder. With this technology, the electronic key can transmit access rights to the cylinder even if the humidity at the site has corroded the surface of the lock. In other words, bad connections no longer prevent information from being transmitted between the key and lock.

At some telecommunications towers, access is restricted to those authorised to work at height. Software is now available that liaises with the operator’s information system, collecting select information from the various user profiles to limit access to authorised individuals. This allows operators to use the software to assign access rights for specific areas based on the technician’s profile and authorisation.

To improve on-site control activities, electronic keys work with specific apps and new technology (ie RFID and beacons, etc) to send technicians verification messages about their access rights or required safety instructions (such as wearing a helmet and abiding by the buddy system, etc).

Similarly, users can interact with the central system and submit on-site attendance reports and flag up anomalies errors, etc. These bespoke features are designed to meet ever-stricter security requirements in companies and, importantly, accommodate the latest Government guidelines.

Sub-contracting and shared access sites

Sub-contractors are an increasingly common fixture in both maintenance activities and emergency call-outs. Several officers may well require daily access to a number of scattered, remote facilities.

The access control system is further complicated by the fact that sites may be shared by different businesses. Water towers, for instance, are often used to support radio masts.

It’s now possible to deliver an effective response to multi-activity sites with just one electronic key being needed for countless locks. Officers no longer need to carry large bunches of keys between sites. Instead, they can access the right place at the right time with maximum security.

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Communication infrastructures may be the prime target for large-scale attacks wherein those parties involved are looking to compromise the country’s economic potential. They may also attract various types of vandal, tempted by the challenge of scaling facilities or the apparent vulnerability of street cabinets.

Today’s access control solutions are invaluable when it comes to protecting facilities from harm. Electronic cylinders and padlocks have CEN 1303 certification with the highest level of resistance to drilling and, therefore, vandalism.

What’s more, a lost or stolen electronic key can be disabled on a swift footing to prevent any unwanted intrusions. In certain solutions, the built-in reporting feature in the system software aims to report any attempts to gain access outside specified time ranges or in out-of-bounds areas, thereby detecting any anomalies.

Catherine Laug is Group Head of Marketing at LOCKEN

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Abloy UK advises companies to secure remote sites in wake of record £20 million fine for Thames Water

Abloy UK is advising companies to secure remote sites and minimise the risk of substantial fines by dint of using innovative new access control technology. This advice comes in light of the recent record fine of over £20 million given to Thames Water for polluting the River Thames with 1.4 billion litres of raw sewage.

Thames Water was functioning with reduced operational resources, in turn resulting in unmanned sites. When alarms were raised signalling issues, they were not attended to immediately – including one being ignored for 37 hours*.

Abloy UK suggests that a system such as PROTEC2 CLIQ with CLIQ Connect could prevent these kinds of events from happening by allowing access to be granted remotely, such that incidents can be dealt with on a swift basis.

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PROTEC2 CLIQ allows for the remote management of disparate or large electronic master-keyed sites, provides audit trails on locks and padlocks and allows lost or stolen keys to be invalidated, in turn assuring secure key management at all times.

CLIQ Connect enables PROTEC2 CLIQ keys to be activated through a smart phone using Bluetooth 4.0 technology, offering flexibility, time-saving and ease of use of remote access control. The system is ideally suited to organisations that have a number of engineers and contractors visiting remote sites, and offers a solution for many different sectors including defence, the utilities, telecoms, transport, education and healthcare.

Steve Wintle, head of Critical National Infrastructure at Abloy UK, said: “We can see from the example of Thames Water that businesses can be under resourced. This is often how mistakes and accidents can happen. Investment in a system such as CLIQ Connect could have saved a business such as Thames Water a significant fine, not to mention the cost of negative publicity and the impact this could have on share price. By de-centralising the authentication of access, the system can act as a secondary confirmation. Access and actions can be double-checked, thereby preventing costly incidents such as this one from occurring.”

*http://www.henleystandard.co.uk/news/home/107177/thames-water-fined-record-20million-over-sewage-leaks.html

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