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Your New Year Security Checklist

By Northland Controls, Jan 18, 2023

Start the new year off on the right foot by checking in on these critical security components.

The New Year is a perfect opportunity for a fresh start. And for security professionals, that can mean conducting an audit of your security technology. To get started on the right foot, our security experts have shed some light on where you should focus your efforts to make sure your systems are ready for the year ahead.

Access control is one of the first lines of defense against potential threats. However, it should also provide a seamless entry experience for employees and visitors alike. If it’s been a while since you last checked in, things like access levels and device integrity could be compromised. There are three main features of your access control hardware that should be tested: devices, alarms, and panels.

Functioning devices is of the utmost importance when auditing your system as readers can unexpectedly go offline. For buildings featuring hundreds of readers, noticing one that has gone offline could easily be overlooked. By testing these devices, you can be better prepared for a full return to the office.

Once your readers are properly tested, ensuring that accompanying alarms are properly programmed means that you can let the right people in and keep the wrong people out. Conducting a system audit can expose shunted or mis-programmed alarms by testing for access granted, access granted no entry, access denied, and door forced open alarms.

Over the past few years, the number of cybersecurity threats and data breaches have increased dramatically. Your access control panels should be updated with recent firmware and rotating passwords to support a strong cyber and physical security posture. When testing panels, also check to see if backup power batteries are up to date for when a potential failover is needed.

Your eyes in the sky, cameras and accompanying systems have a key role in any physical security program. And, checking to make sure these cameras are functioning, online, and recording before an event happens is key. Testing the functionality of your camera, such as the positioning and focus of the video, is a great place to start as many of these seemingly obvious issues can go undetected when not frequently used.

If video is triggered by motion, be sure there is enough video storage to comply with your company’s data retention policies. Also, much like your access control panels, upgrading your cameras’ firmware to the latest version and updating passwords on a consistent basis can help prevent future cybersecurity threats.

After mitigating issues related to your security hardware, focus your attention on the systems that power them. In some cases, your security technology may have outpaced your ability to keep up with it. Checking to see what version your access control and video management systems are currently running on will help inform your security strategy. If you’re more than two versions behind, it may be time for an upgrade. This same approach can be said for your support programs. For a fully supported system, teams need both a supported system version as well as a valid support plan. Check on expiration dates and service support plans to make sure you’re taking a proactive approach to keeping your systems supported.

Turnover in security positions, particularly operators, can cause challenges as it relates to consistency. Checking your device maps and naming conventions to make sure they reflect any hardware changes will help empower and inform new operators and security teams during a transition. Operators have a better chance of responding to active and potential threats in a timely manner when they have an updated device map supported by accurate naming conventions. Do the names of your devices match their location and description? If your team is new to the system, or hasn’t refreshed their memory in recent months, “door 12” might not be as obvious as “café entrance.”

Now that your hardware is working properly, it’s important to revisit and revise your physical security plans such as your standard operating procedures, visitor management policy, or hybrid work plans. A lot has changed for companies since the start of the pandemic and making sure your SOPs reflect those changes is important to prepare for future threats and critical events. This can include key personnel changes, new threats facing your company, and any corporate policy updates. By reviewing these key documents, teams can make sure questions like who is monitoring alarms and have there been any major changes since the last audit are answered before that critical information is needed to respond to an active threat.

Download the full checklist below to make sure you're ready for the year ahead.

Need help tackling any of these initiatives? Contact our team of security experts by emailing