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A Commonly Overlooked Remote Site Security Risk Problem: Doors Propped Open

Morgana Siggins
Morgana Siggins
Monitoring Specialist

Your remote sites are vulnerable. This is especially true if you have an isolated and unmanned site with unsupervised workers coming and going all the time and propping open doors - because they might end up forgetting to close them.

This turns your remote sites into an easy prey for thieves and vandals (animals and bad weather are not excluded either).

Unfortunately, the traditional ways to control remote access, such as a lock-and-key system, are neither practical nor cheap.

Keys are an obvious security risk. They are easy to lose and even easier to steal or copy. Not to mention that making, distributing, and tracking keys is a pain in the neck.

Let's take a look at how you can effectively manage site access and prevent risks from propped doors open without blowing a hole in your budget.

The Secuirty Risks of Doors Propped Open

It almost goes without saying that when people forget their doors propped open at remote sites, it can cause big problems.

Propped doors:

  • Present a huge security risk

  • Increase climate control costs

  • Allow the outside environment to threaten site equipment

Control your Doors with a Building Access System (BAS)

A Building Access System (BAS) is a comprehensive building management system that integrates into an existing alarm management platform. With the system in place, a log of all site access, including the time of day and location that access was granted, is maintained. In addition, alarms such as intrusions and excessive access attempts are reported to T/Mon on a per-door basis.

The BAS gives network alarm managers the ability to control and regulate door entry access. With a built-in fault tolerance system, this security management system can effectively control your sites. You will have complete visibility of all your sites at the same time, as well as have some record of who was in your building.

Integrating the BAS into an existing alarm management platform provides an inexpensive and effective way to achieve centralized regulation of facility access. It also provides peace of mind to network managers who face the challenges of granting access to personnel without compromising security.

The BAS system provides valuable security to your remote sites and deters theft, break-ins and vandalism. And the system consists of:

  • A master station

  • An RTU

  • An Entry Control Unit

  • And a Proxy Reader

The T/Mon Master Station

The BAS works as a software module in T/MonXM software. It's a profile-based access system. It assigns each user with a unique user profile containing information such as which sites are allowed to be accessed, the door numbers, days of the week access is allowed, a start/stop time, and a beginning and ending date (primarily for contractors, new employees, or short term employees).

By integrating a BAS into your T/Mon LNX alarm master management platform, you can have a single centralized control of remote site access. You will have visibility of all your sites, no matter how far, all from your central office.

With the BAS and the T/Mon working together, your sites will always be monitored, saving you time and money, and avoiding the loss of customers. Additionally, you can support over 1,300 user assigned profiles, and the T/Mon can mediate over 25 proprietary protocols. This ensures your whole system and all your existing gear in your BAS can integrate seamlessly. You won't have to replace legacy or other existing equipment.

T/MonXM software on the T/Mon LNX hardware monitors, mediates, and forwards alarm data in over 25 standard and proprietary protocols, including legacy equipment no one else can support.

You can also decide to invest on the T/Mon BAS.

T/Mon BAS gives you centralized, electronic control over your doors. It's a variant of the T/Mon Remote Alarm Monitoring System, but while a standard T/Mon manages both door access and alarms from network equipment, T/Mon BAS is focused purely on building access control.

You can use T/Mon BAS to:

  • Grant individual door access rights for up to 1,300 users

  • View and control access from all of your facilities on one screen

  • Monitor unauthorized door access attempts and intrusion alarms

  • Remotely "buzz-in" site visitors from your central office

  • Maintain access history logs for review after an incident

T/Mon BAS: Real-time visibility and control of electronic door access.

T/Mon BAS gives you the advanced access control capabilities of T/Mon LNX, without network alarm monitoring functions you may not need.

The NetGuardian 832A RTU

The NetGuardian 832A controls local access at your remote sites. This unit maintains a list of personnel who are authorized to access the facility. It records all valid entries, attempts, and the time of each action in non-volatile RAM. It can also receive a control from T/Mon to remotely open a door.

However, should the NetGuardian lose connection with the T/Mon, the unit is still able to make local entry decisions. The NetGuardian contains a mirror user database from T/Mon and will continue to function if the link is broken.

The comprehensive and expandable alarm monitoring solution that goes anywhere in your network, the NetGuardian 832A is NEBS-certified, LAN-based, made for SNMP, and provides stand-alone alarm monitoring. Plus, its internal 33.6K modem lets you connect to the NetGuardian even if LAN is not available.

The NetGuardian indicates conditions such as valid entry, invalid access attempt, and system lockout. The unit supports up to 1,300 user profiles for distribution between door entry points.

The Entry Control Unit

The Entry Control Unit, or simply ECU, acts as an interface between the NetGuardian and the proxy reader. Any access code that's entered is accepted by the ECU and passed on to the NetGuardian for validation. If the access code is valid, the ECU receives a command from the NetGuardian to operate the local relay to energize the door.

In the event of communication failure with the NetGuardian, the ECU will verify entered access codes against a small fallback set. The fallback set consists of valid access profiles that were downloaded from the NetGuardian.

With the ECU you get easy configuration, easy management, and telco-grade reliability at sites that need door control but don't need extensive network monitoring.

The ECU is powered by -48VDC and is wall mountable on the interior of the building. The unit has LEDs for power, communication, fuse alarm, and an LED that echoes the door status.

Proxy Reader

A proximity card reader eliminates the chance of forgotten keycodes and increases your level of access control. An employee can easily share a keycode with others, but not a proxy card.

In the event that a card is lost or stolen, it can be deactivated in seconds and a new card may be issued in its place.

The ECU LAN with dual proximity readers. With one reader outside the door and the other inside (and a card swipe required for both entry and exit, employee time/entries/exits may be logged.

How BAS Can Help You Monitor Propped Doors

You may not care about a typical door-open alarm during business hours, but a door that's propped for more than 3 minutes is a potential threat you must know about.

So, if your main concern is a door propped open, you can set your BAS' Derived Alarm timer at about 30 seconds to throw alarms after "Door Open" has been standing for 30 seconds straight, for example.

In other buildings, fire doors slow the spread of fire so they shouldn't be propped open, so the RTU in your BAS system can be used to detect door propping. This is much better than a simple sign "Do not prop door" can ever be.

BAS Propped Door Features for your Special Access Needs

There are some cases, however, when you may want to allow a door to remain unlocked or open. The following four intelligent propped door features allow you to accommodate special access needs at your site:

  1. Enable Propped Door

    This command will allow a door to be propped open for a set amount of time without triggering an alarm.

  2. Enable Extended Propped Door

    This command will extend the previous command's time limit by an amount set by the user. This is useful during gear installations that require frequent entries. When the door is closed, it will lock until you deactivate the Extended Propped Door Mode.

  3. Enable Stay Open Mode

    This command acts much like the propped door commands, except that it will leave the site door unlocked for an infinite amount of time. This is great for business offices, where the receptionist can unlock the front door at the start of the day and lock it in the evening. Now you have free access during the day and keycard access after-hours.

  4. Disable Stay Open Mode

    This command acts to close the previous command and place the door back in a monitored alarm mode that will sound if it is not closed by a set period of time.

We Can Help Sort Out Your Options

One very important facet of the BAS stems from its origins as a network management accessory. DPS started by specializing in remote monitoring and control systems for network staff. The BAS made sense because it provided physical security and monitoring for servers and other network assets.

Of course, we were asked by users who only wanted to use door alarm and control and had no network to monitor. This led to the development of standalone door alarm and access control systems that didn't include the features (or the cost) of a full-fledged network monitoring system.

Vertical integration makes DPS's custom design services possible, and the BAS development wasn't an exception.

Today, this means that you have a lot of choice and opportunity if you choose to deploy the DPS Building Access System. If you only need to alarm and control doors (for your doors propped open, for example), the T/Mon BAS and/or LAN-based ECUs will provide dedicated door alarm and control without any of the remote network monitoring features that will never use.

If you do have a network spread out across a variety of remote sites (a certainty if you work for telco, utility, or transit company), the BAS presents an opportunity for you to "kill two birds with one stone." In this case, it would be ideal for you to purchase the T/Mon LNX instead of the T/Mon BAS. As I said before, this is the full-featured network alarm management platform that will allow you to monitor and control your doors, your network gear, and environmental alarms like temperature and humidity from the same central console.

Do you want more information on how to properly deploy a high-quality building access system to enhance the security of your sites? Do you want to know more about the DPS BAS system and its elements?

We've put together the How to Deploy an advanced Building Access System White Paper to answer those and any other questions about remote site access and remote monitoring.

Click here to download your free copy of the How to Deploy an Advanced Building Access System White Paper

Get your free copy of the White Paper today to know more about how you can protect your revenue through site monitoring.

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