Lock it up ... Bolt it down
Michael Miles describes how physical security is essential to protect utility infrastructure from terrorists, espionage, theft and misadventure.
IT and data security, biometrics, closed circuit television, global positioning systems and asset tracking. These high-tech systems are thought to be at the cutting edge of the security market.
Perhaps less prominent is other sophisticated security equipment that provides physical defence for access points to utility infrastructure.
Physical security is often the last line of defence against infiltration or attack. The design of doors, access covers, escape hatches, louvers and other systems plays a crucial role in protecting utilities assets. Areas that must be protected can include anything from under ground services, above ground installations, operating plant, control rooms, storage facilities and buildings. These areas evidently need strengthening against terrorist attack, contamination or industrial espionage and organised crime. High security doors, for example, may feature solenoid or swipe card entry, linked to a central access control system that monitors and manages access to a network of assets.
In tackling high-level threats, doors and covers are also resistant to what could be considered more benign threats, such as vandalism, petty theft and misadventure. The cost of misadventure can be high financially and in disruption of service. There may even be a risk of injury or death.
More recently, metal theft has affected all utilities. Press coverage has revealed the lengths that thieves will go to and the risks they will take to get hold of metal to take advantage of the high price paid for scrap.
“Lock it up and bolt it down” should be the mantra, and a priority for utility companies.
With the rising threat of terrorist activity, demand for security products has escalated, driving up security standards, demand has also been buoyed by the current investment in infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. And it will hit new heights should England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup finals be successful.
In response to this growing demand, the government has tried to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of fit-for-purpose security products to meet the demand predicted over the next few years. The government has sanctioned the use of some third-party certificated security products for national infrastructure applications. In the past, such products depended on systems approved to Security Equipment Assessment Panel (SEAP) standard, governed by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch.
A number of companies have been given the green light to supply security equipment assessed to Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) criteria as an acceptable alternative to SEAP certificated products.
Awareness of this development is filtering through to decision-makers in the utilities, but speed is of the essence. LPCB approved products have been adopted to varying degrees by water and power companies. Now, specifiers have a wider range of security products to choose from, and security equipment can be better matched to the application, making the installation more cost effective.
|Improving Security: Key Developments|
|Supply of products||The goverment has acted to ensure sufficient supply of fit-for-purpose security products to meet the demand predicted over the next few years.|
|LPCB and SEAP||A number of campanies have been given the green light to supply security equipment assessed to Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) approval as an acceptible alternative to SEAP-certified products.|
|Utilty awareness||Awareness of this development is now filtering through to decision makers in the utilities sectors.|
|Adoption of LPCB products||LPCB approved products have been adopted to varying degrees by water and power companies|
|Wider range of products||Utilities specifiers can take advantage of greater choice and wider availability offered by these additional volumes of security product. There is also the scope for greater cost-effectiveness in matching solutions to the application.|
Location, site history and possible future developments are some of the factors that determine the security needs of a particular installation. However, turning a risk assessment into a product specification is not straight forward. Only reputable third party accreditation, which measures and grades security products against a demonstrable scale of performance parameters, will ensure peace of mind.
To be accepted as an alternative to SEAP, LPCB had to be an exceptionally tough system of third party approval and it is. The test regimes differ. Both use rigorous physical criteria to assess a systems resistance to attack when approving a design and awarding a security rating. But LPCB also assesses the resilience of a product to possible “intellectual” strategies to circumvent it.
Under LPCB approval, access covers and doors are classed as façade elements, and are required to meet a robust dedicated standard, LPS 1175. LPS 1175, specification for testing and classifying the burglary resistance of building components, strong points and security enclosures, classifies the resistance of façade elements to forced entry. Product performance is tested and certified according to sex levels of resistance to manual attack.
Significantly, LPCB approval is not based on one product test. Through regular audits, LPCB certification ensures that the product continues to comply with the prevailing standards and their revisions. The auditing process by LPCB helps to confirm that the product on the market offer the same security performance as the product that was originally tested.
Although a type test indicates that the test sample meets a particular performance standard the results do not guarantee that future products will provide equivalent performance. Also LPCB approval can only be awarded to products that are already assured by ISO 9001 quality systems for design and manufacture.
Approval is not granted easily: a high proportion of products submitted fail the LPCB test.
One of the most common misconceptions about security doors and covers is that separate products approved to the same regime such as a high security lock sourced for a high security door provide an “approved” system when combined. This is not true. When sourcing LPCB products, the locking mechanism specified must have been tested with your chosen door, and achieved third party approval in this specific combination. Otherwise, it may not provide the level of security required, potentially leaving a weak link in protection. It is a point that insurers will be checking for.
All this means a significant investment in product design and testing for manufacturers that offer LPCB approval of a range of locking mechanisms across a variety of doors with different security ratings. So scrutinise claims carefully when assessing any certified security product with add-ons.
The installation of products approved by third parties such as LPCB to reliable, stringent regimes can be cost-efficient without compromising security performance. The methodology of certificating the performance of a security door, the lock and other ironmongery can prevent an installation from becoming over-engineered, which adds cost for no gain in performance.
The industry can shortly expect the launch of a LPCB Security Rating 5 (SEAP 4, alternative) door, which is for a very high risk category. The door has been tested and approved with a single, rather than three-point, locking device.
A trend to watch is the growing use of electronic padlocks rather than mechanical ones. This must be carefully managed to ensure that the physical security of an installation is not undermined. Electronic padlocks must be checked and approved by an independent body, such as LPCB, to ensure the electronic security they offer is compatible with the LPS 1175 ratings of the products they are to be applied to. Good physical security can be compromised if the electronic padlock, for example, is susceptible to water egress or electronic discharge, possibly from a lightening strike.