In what is becoming an annual tradition looked forward to by many members of the security industry press (this writer included), Genetec hosted a good number of the world’s trade press representatives in July at their Montreal headquarters.

The event began in with a day-long information packed session on everything from next-level encryption methods and Blockchain to Cannabis security.

Recently named both one of the fastest growing access control software manufacturers and the No. 1 global VMS vendor by research firm IHS Markit, Genetec takes pride in its R&D mindset, Vice President of Marketing Andrew Elvish said. “We invest annually 25 percent of our top line resources in R&D,” he said.

The company was also one of the first to push the concept of “unified security” to the industry. Now they want to be on the front lines of privacy and trust, Elvish said.

One of the highlights of the day was our own private “Ted Talk,” courtesy of Genetec Founder and CEO Pierre Racz. In a session titled “Making Tools to Protect Liberal Democracies,” Racz finessed a way to tie the history of the Paris sewers (which was fascinating on its own merits) to what is going on today in security and the world.

“The industrial revolution can inform us about the digital revolution,” he said. “The rise of the internet happened so fast that we didn’t have time to figure out how to tame this beast. We are in a messy period right now, and no one wants to do anything about securing information.”

From Paris he moved to much more recent times and China. “From 2015 to 2018 all the military traffic to Washington D.C. was routed through China,” he said. “It happened to other countries as well. No one is immune. What they were doing was a log jam attack, or a man-in-the-middle attack.” In addition, he said, 80 percent of websites were improperly configured during that time.

What does this mean for Genetec, and the security industry overall? Racz said there needs to be far more emphasis, not just on cyber security as a whole, but on privacy, and the chain of trust.

“Our old idea of security as a hardened firewall around our system with a soft underbelly is completely broken. The new perimeter is identity — the strong identity of people and machines. You have to know who you are talking to. You can’t just trust any certificate. There needs to be a chain of trust and you need to know who is the root.”

Racz explained the use of harden crypto devices internally at the company, as well as how they will be using Blockchain, security hash algorithms (SHA) and other methods to help push the industry along towards more “security of security.”

He added, “We [as an industry] are doing nothing right now. I want a Sarbanes Oxley of security. Policy-based automation and oversight is some of the new stuff Genetec is introducing.”

From there the topic turned to AI in security — or as they prefer to call it IA, intelligent automation — privacy and cyber security.

“Threats are always evolving,” said Laurent Villeneuve, Genetec product marketing manager. “No one is ever secure; it is not only about devices and video feeds; there is no silver bullet to cyber security. … It’s a shared responsibility. We play a central role as a manufacturer, but it is also about working with distributors, integrators and customers.”

A good chunk of the afternoon was spent in a panel discussion on cannabis and security. Chris Rodriguez, vice president, global security operations, MedMen, Michael Elkin, vice president, partnerships and sales, for High 12 Brands, and Tim Sutton, CPP, CHPA, senior security consultant at Guidepost Solutions LLC, shared the unique security needs and concerns of the cannabis industry, particularly in the U.S. where cannabis is legal in certain states, but not federally.

For example, in addition to finding a bank that will accept money from a cannabis vendor, there are also supply issues, because they can’t cross state lines with product — even if both states allow it.

They all pointed to a vast opportunity for securing everything from the growing to the sale side of cannabis. “We are looking to track plants from seed to sale and looking at options that allow us to substitute manual labor for an intelligent solution,” Rodriguez said.

“There is no integration in the cannabis space right now,” Elkin said. “There is tons of opportunity to integrate those technologies now.” He cited illegal growers, a lack of efficient practices and the general unfamiliarity of those often running these facilities with everything that integrated security can do.

“What I have seen is a shift in security leaders,” Sutton said. “Often the security officer is an ex-cop or someone not experienced in the industry.  … There are a lot of startups where they started illegally and now are doing it legally. They are not business people. They are very passionate about growing cannabis and what it can do and how it can help people.”

There are also many large guard force companies that have been reluctant to touch the industry until it is legal federally. Yet those businesses that have become legal need and want security.

“I suggest tracking down that business just like you would any other industry,” Sutton suggested. “The integrator doesn’t necessarily understand how to run a security department, but they should know how the technology works, and they can partner with consultants.”

Elkin added that of the manufacturers he had talked to, “Genetec was the easiest for us to integrate and the most forward thinking.”

After an evening spent socializing and eating at a local restaurant in the heart of the old city, the next morning we were shuttled to a customer site, the Montreal Casino, for a tour of the casino floor and their security control room. The Montreal Casino was converted in 1993 from what was originally the French Pavilion of the 1967 World’s Fair. Eventually they took over the Quebec pavilion as well, and underwent a complete renovation, including moving their entire security operation from the center of the building to another area to make more room for games and entertainment.

While all casinos face security challenges, true to their reputation, the Canadian casino prides itself on creating a friendly, fun and all around nice experience for its customers. They have used their security system, including cameras, ALPRs, and video analytics to return lost money to a visitor who accidentally left it behind (using the cameras to track him to his car and flagging the license plate for the next time he visited), as well as to recognize not only VIP customers but those who self-enroll as a gambling addict to turn them away before they get themselves into trouble.

As Claude Laramee, security operations supervisor, technical support, said, “You have to tie security with operations so you can do the right thing at the right time.”

And that was the overall message of Genetec to us as well. As Racz explained, “Our goal is not company growth. I don’t care about that because we aren’t selling shares. We are selling products. Our goal is perennity. We are here for the long-term.” — By Karyn Hodgson, SDM Managing Editor