It's inescapable. These days, any piece of technology introduced into an environment must be able to run on the enterprise network. Moreover, devices can't just "sit there" on the network; they must actively communicate with other devices plugged into it. As the bright lines between security and IT become more and more blurred, it is important that physical security equipment, such as video cameras and card readers, literally "talk the talk" over IP. This summer, the Standards Committee of the Security Industry Association (SIA) will embark on defining how traditional security devices can communicate over an IP network.
In the IT world, a widely used tool for network communication is Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). SNMP is used to actively monitor device status and alert administrators to components that may require attention. Common devices (routers, printers, modems) have defined management information bases (MIBs) that contain device attributes relevant for network communication over SNMP. These MIBs are data structures that indicate vital information like whether the device is online or offline, ready to receive information, or busy or idle. But there is currently no standard MIB guidance for security manufacturers to incorporate into their network devices. While vendors have attempted to produce guidance on a product-by-product basis, there has been no standard industry approach.
An ad hoc subcommittee, chaired by Security Specifiers' Ray Coulombe and focused on network communication, has been established to define a set of standard MIBs for security products. We will schedule a kickoff web meeting for the last week in August. Anyone interested in joining the effort should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you do so, let me know your thoughts on the following:
- Are there other network communication modalities the security industry can leverage?
- Are there certain product types better suited to SNMP than others?
- Does your organization use proprietary MIBs that the subcommittee can use as a reference or starting point?
There is an exciting opportunity for the industry to plug a gaping hole in our IT and IP convergence. We look forward to wide industry support of this effort!