Tech Notes – August

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Protecting Your Data

You’ve linked your cards.  You’ve entered your cardholder data.  You’ve set up all the parameters of your system.  Without backups, all that data is at risk.  For example, a system administrator could unintentionally block issue a large group of cards, overwriting the existing settings of those cards.  Another example would be a disk drive failure. These kind of events do happen. Without a backup, the only recourse to one of these events is to re-enter the lost data.

All the programs in your Secom system are held in non-volatile memory and backups of them are kept here at the factory, so they can never be lost. The same can’t be said for the data that you have entered into your system. These problems are rare but can be very painful when they do occur.

Backing Up User Data

The first step is to have a plan. The plan includes a schedule of when to make backups and how many to have. The schedule depends on how much user programming is done and how much you’re willing to re-create if there is a problem. If you’re changing 10 cards a week and you make backups weekly, then, at most, you would have to re-enter the data for 10 cards.  The more data you change between backups, the more effort will have to be spent to recover from a problem.

The number of backups also must be considered.  As an example, consider the case where an administrator unintentionally makes all the cards in the system have the “all access” area group.  The cardholders will still be able to use their cards in their normal locations.  Over time, they may notice that they can also access locations that are supposed to be off limits to them.  If that is not brought up to the administrators of the system before the next backup is made, that new backup will also have the incorrect card settings on it.  If, however, there are several backups in rotation, an older backup may still have the original area group settings for the cards.

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A schedule of backups could be something like this:

Have four backup media and make a backup once a week on top of the oldest one.  The result would be that the oldest backup always has data from 4 weeks prior.  Then, if an unnoticed administrator occurred 2 weeks ago, the backup from just prior to that could be restored.

What Files To Backup

The Secom systems allow backup of individual files.  Some files are changed frequently, others are nearly never changed once the system is initially set up. There is no need to re-backup a file that is already backed up and hasn’t been changed. Those that are changed are the ones that should be backed up.

Handling Backup Media

An important consideration is storage of the backup media.  The media should not be stored in the system controller.  As an extreme example, a fire in the room where the system controller is located could destroy the controller. If the backups are kept there as well, they will be gone as well.  A replacement controller could be back up and running in short order but re-linking the cards and re-entering the cardholder data could take weeks.

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Done Making A Backup

It is important to remove the backup media after making the backup and storing it in a safe location.

Written by Martin Ronney, Secom Tech Team