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Is IoT disrupting physical security?

The physical security industry hasn’t changed much in over 2000 years. The Ancient Romans are the first civilization that began to use keys and locks that are very similar to the one's we still use today.

The most significant change to the industry came in the 1980’s with the introduction of electronic access control with plastic keycard systems and monitored electronic alarms. But these changes only impacted hotels and offices - the majority of us still use the Roman PIN tumbler style mechanical locks and metal keys to secure our homes, storage facilities, workplaces, cabinets, industrial machines and so on.

The physical security industry has been unable to keep up in recent times to all the global technological changes, despite the regulation efforts of Governments around the world.

Nowadays, other than keeping us safe, companies rely on physical security products for meeting OH&S, data retention laws, insurance requirements and cyber security. For example companies that process credit cards, by law must have electronic locks on the doors of the rooms housing the computers that process all the credit cards. Metal key mechanical locks won't cut it - there is no way of knowing who is accessing the computer rooms at anytime, constantly exposing the critical data. Metal keys don't record unlocking events. Also, they can easily be copied and shared without owners/managers knowledge or approval.

So with physical security being mission critical on so many levels these days, why have existing electronic locking solutions constantly been exposed as insecure? Hardly a week goes by these days without a story in the media of electronic lock hacking - for example over 75% of the Bluetooth smartlocks on the market have been proven to be easily hacked. Existing electronic locking systems such as mag-stripe keycards, RFID keycards, and Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth solutions are not only hackable, they are also power hungry, unreliable, impractical, expensive, and often not data intuitive.

There is no doubt that the physical security industry is primed for disruption. In the last 50 years, the Roman style metal key locks quickly evolved to the 'punch cardboard keycard' in the 1970's, and onto the magnetic stripe plastic keycards in the 1980's. Then in the 1990's and 2000's the Radio Frequency ID keycards (chips in the card) were ushered into millions of hotels and offices all over the globe. In the last ten years Wi-Fi/Bluetooth smartlocks with smartphone unlocking have became prevalent.

Each version of the electronic lock over the last 50 years was an improvement over the previous versions features and benefits. The next step in the evolution of physical security products is here with IoT smartlocks. An IoT smartlock is an electronic lock that connects to the internet and cloud platforms with SIM cards and tiny inbuilt modems like smartphones. They have better security, better battery life, better reliability and better affordability than their Wi-FI/Bluetooth predecessors. For example, NB-IoT smartlocks take advantage on inbuilt mobile networks security and encryption features, whilst achieving 2-5 years battery life as compared to only around 3 months for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth smartlocks. Power saving is achieved by the NB-IoT smartlocks remaining in sleep mode most the time, only waking up for a couple of seconds at a time to receive unlock commands and extract data (Wi-Fi smartlocks are always on, listening for signals and draining battery).

To learn more about NB-IoT smartlocks visit here


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