Convergence can be thought of as the integration of knowledge, tools, and activities for a common goal. There is a tendency that, as technology changes, new systems evolve with enhanced capabilities allowing them to integrate data from more and more sources. This tendency creates an opportunity for the emergence of new security platforms that help us to be more effective and efficient. The term convergence is used in several different ways, even within the security industry. A physical security practitioner may use this term to describe a Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) platform that allows the monitoring and control of surveillance, access control, and alarm inputs. An information technology specialist would be inclined to use the same term when discussing network management combined with security information and event management (SIEM) data.
This tendency for systems to evolve has brought us to the advent of the Converged Security & Information Management (CSIM) software platform. True CSIM is a category of software used for enhancing and automating operations center management. CSIM software rides on top of – and allows operators seamlessly to manage – a multiplicity of existing or new systems essential to asset owners of virtually all types.
The term CSIM was coined by a Vienna, Virginia company, Vidsys, Inc. We met with CEO & Founder at Vidsys, James Chong at the GSX Conference in Las Vegas to learn more about the latest in security convergence. He told us, “We’ve been talking about convergence and converged security for three and a half years. In January of 2015, we introduced the evolution of PSIM, which came from the physical security side, into CSIM which is Converged Security and Information Management. It converges security including cyber, IT, logical, and physical combined into an end-to-end, front-door to back-door coverage.”
For Vidsys, the increasingly popular label of PSIM fails to capture the full scope of their integration platform. They designed their system to facilitate cloud-based solutions and the convergence of a common operating picture linking security systems, building management systems, and IT network management tools. As a core Asset and Information Management tool, the Vidsys platform also facilitates transformational interoperability among multiple independent organizations that require close coordination for incident management related to critical infrastructure.
CSIM software is a force multiplier, especially for organizations with a large physical footprint, because the software geospatially aligns information and assets into a single user interface. CSIM has five core areas of functionality: it collects, analyzes, verifies, resolves, and tracks information. Its rules engine and workflow tools give management the ability to pre-determine what data should be correlated and what should be filtered out. CSIM software uses filtering rules based on time, location, duration, frequency, and type.
The software is programmed to identify and present potential situations for evaluation by the command center operator. The organization’s approved con-ops are automatically provided on-screen to ensure compliance and swift resolution. So when a threat occurs it can be resolved accurately, efficiently, and consistently.
CSIM provides the ability to manage situations in real-time. CSIM works especially well to enhance security for widely dispersed assets because it leverages a mobile application. First responders, supervisors, IT staff, and senior executives with authorized credentials can access CSIM from anywhere via a mobile device (tablet, cell phone) for enhanced situational awareness.
In discussing the multiple facets of convergence within a modern security operation, James explained, “You’ve got organizational convergence, operational convergence, and technology convergence as the third tier. This technology convergence is what we have coined as CSIM. So it is converged security, plus information management.”
He continued, “With organizational convergence, we see operational convergence with the unified operation center, or joint solution center, where you have cyber events, delivered by a solution like Splunk, but also physical events coming in from identity and access control solutions. Now it can be the same screen and the same user that’s monitoring it all. We have customers that have built a USOC (Unified Security Operations Center), whereas before they may have had a NOC and a SOC, now it’s really just the one USOC.”
Vidsys CSIM software can help organizations meet industry-specific regulatory and compliance standards and directives. It can help support organizations as they exercise their Duty of Care obligations for employees, staff, and visitors in providing a safe and secure work environment.
James says, “Vidsys CSIM continuously fuses and instantly correlates vast amounts of data gathered from any number, type, brand, or generation of physical security system or sensor. Now that we’re entering the data world, this is all about The Internet of Things in terms of advanced connectivity to sensors, devices, systems, subsystems, and services connected to the cloud. That’s the market where this type of product can make a difference and that’s where the new CISO with the new USOC can now implement what they were hoping to do because now the technology is built for that.”