The Phygital Experience (S1:E34)

The Phygital Experience (S1:E34)

Cybercrime is powerful, impacting places you may not initially consider a cyberattack target. Ron Luchene, Senior VP at Tech Systems, and Diane Kehlenbeck, Western Regional Sales Manager, Credentials at Identiv join us to discuss the challenges of identity verification in both physical and digital environments — or what we like to call the “phygital” space.

Full Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01):
You’re listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today’s most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what’s new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity, and IOT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our phygital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging digital experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be, and how we will fit into that picture. Your host is Leigh Dow, VP of global marketing at Identiv.

Leigh Dow (00:43):
Thanks for joining us. On today’s podcast, we’re welcoming two guests. Ron Luchene is from Tech Systems Inc. Tech Systems provides service-centric security solutions. We’re also joined by Identiv’s own Diane Kehlenbeck, western regional sales manager for credentials. Thank you both for being here today.

Ron Luchene (00:43):
Thank you.

Diane Kehlenbeck (01:02):
Thank you for having us.

Leigh Dow (01:03):
Let’s dive into credentials and the phygital experience. As we know, cyber crime is powerful. It impacts places you may not initially consider a cyber attack target. When unauthorized users access sensitive information, they can steal personal data, plant malicious code, even introduce ransomware. Diane, can you tell us about the challenges of identity verification in both the physical and digital environments?

Diane Kehlenbeck (01:30):
Yeah, I think one of the biggest challenges for both physical and digital environments includes the balance between security and convenience. How do you make access secure, but still make it easy to use? I think a good example is one that everybody can relate to is security at the airport, right? I mean, we have to go through security. It’s not convenient, but at the same time we want assurances that we’re going to be secure and safe while we’re at the airport and while we’re flying. Physical security, and IT managers face this challenge all the time, that balance between security and convenience. How do you keep buildings and network secure, yet minimize the impact on employee productivity and throughput?

Leigh Dow (02:18):
Excellent. So Ron, how do you think those challenges are best overcome?

Ron Luchene (02:25):
Yes. I question whether or not the physical ID badge will really ever completely go away, and while we see technology today providing lots of different ways to verify somebody’s identity, when you think about video verification, that kind of thing, as you approach a door. There’s systems out there today that are using AI as a way to identify an individual and grant them access. But the truth is that having some kind of a visual ID that says, “Hey, I’m allowed to be in this facility,” or, “I’m allowed to be in this area.” Our clients that we’re speaking to today still can’t find ways to move away from a badge, and they really see that badge as continuing to be an integral part of the overall security plan. Whether or not that badge is physically used to gain access, that will continue to be the challenge, and I think that on the backside of what we’ve been through with COVID and just a demand for touchless technology, I think that we’ll continue to see that evolve, but as it stands today, the traditional badge, one that’s more secure certainly than the traditional proximity is still going to be in the portfolio for some time to come.

Leigh Dow (03:44):
So Ron, what’s the path to becoming phygital? What does it mean for identity and digital authentication?

Ron Luchene (03:51):
Yeah, I think that you just have to accept that changes have occurred in our industry and that, again, COVID really drove a lot of this, but I think on the integrator side, what we see is that many folks are still trying to do things in a very traditional manner when it comes to how to deploy security solutions for their clients that they serve. And clients on the other side of it are not educated today. I think the integrators do a terrible job educating clients on new technology and ways to overcome some of the phygital challenges that they’ve got today. And so I think it’s a twofold process. The clients have to accept that the new technology is here. They’ve got to, we, I should say, have to help them find budget to begin to make those transitions. Start with the areas that are most critical to them, their crown jewels, so to speak, of their organization that need to be protected, help them start there and then roll that out to a broader footprint within their organization.

But certainly on the integrator side, we still meet with, or talk with a lot of integrators that still have not really accepted the fact that the phygital experience is here, and they’re still, in some cases, trying to figure out how they exit the business before they’re forced to really learn it, adopt it, and deploy it. So there’s certainly some challenges on both sides for the clients and for us as integrators.

Leigh Dow (05:24):
Diane, what’s the best way to verify identity with credentials.

Diane Kehlenbeck (05:29):
So this, Ron had a good segue before in terms of credentials not going away, but I think it’s important for security managers to be aware of the technologies that are available to them. And then also make sure that they’re using secure technology, technology that uses encryption, for example, DESfire. For those organizations that are using legacy technologies like Proximity technology, or even in some cases, magstripe. They don’t realize sometimes that these technologies present a security risk until it’s too late, until there’s been some sort of break in the system. And because it’s very easy to purchase devices on the internet that can duplicate credentials, they basically can read the data from the card and then write that same information to a blank card.

Obviously this presents a huge security risk because now an unauthorized individual can gain access to a secure building. And in some cases it may even mean a loss of revenue if those cards are used for, say a paid membership to an athletic club, or some other type of club. Now, if I go out and I duplicate my card and I give it to a family member or friend, now they have access and that organization is losing out on that revenue.

Leigh Dow (06:55):
So Ron, if you could fill us in on Tech Systems’ core competency.

Ron Luchene (07:01):
We’re a service-first organization, and that, for us sales comes as something that you earn by doing a great job, serving the client. And so we primarily, as we have grown, we are recognized for our service program, F.O.C.U.S, which guarantees response and functionality for the client on the first service call for our response time. But in addition to that, our pro service resources, folks who really understand some of the things that we’re talking about today, folks that have a strong IT background with lots of certifications and the different skill sets required to do what we do, not just to deploy the technology that’s available for us today, for our clients, but how to integrate technology, how to bring multiple systems together to create real reporting that clients can depend on. And so for us today across 18 countries and with our own employees in Canada, the US, Puerto Rico, it’s really, it’s about service first. And then if we can exceed the client’s expectations on that side, it’s how we support them in other efforts. And again, the data is important. And so that’s one of the areas that we’ve really focused on over the years is how do we utilize the data in these systems to produce real reporting that’s meaningful to the clients in ways that allows the security department to become a profit center for the organization and not just a drain on the budget.

Leigh Dow (08:32):
I love that notion. I know that back in my, prior to Identiv corporate life, a lot of the IT organizations that I worked with were really starting to make that transition from being a cost center to a profit center.

Ron Luchene (08:47):
Absolutely.

Leigh Dow (08:49):
Diane, can you tell us about the solutions across Identiv’s core business segments?

Diane Kehlenbeck (08:54):
Yeah. Identiv brings end-to-end solutions. Everything from access control to video management, cards and readers that are used both for physical access control, as well as logical access control. And then we also offer tags that are used to identify and authenticate things, not just people, but things like medical equipment, inventory, retail merchandise, library books, just to name a few.

Leigh Dow (09:22):
For both of you as physical locks and keys discovered digital counterparts, the traditional identification paperwork is also evolving. Can you give us insight into the challenges of this major paradigm shift?

Ron Luchene (09:36):
Diane, you want to take that first?

Diane Kehlenbeck (09:38):
Sure. I think digitizing things like driver’s license or medical records, obviously it makes it much more convenient to access that data via mobile devices or digital apps. It also helps overcome bottlenecks in standard authentication processes, gives more control over the data that you share. For example, if you have your driver’s license on your phone, and then you also, again, kind of going back to the example of the airport. Now you have your driver’s license on your phone, you have your airline ticket in your wallet. So it just makes that process fairly seamless when you’re going through security. So that’s sort of the convenience part of it, but the challenge now becomes, how do you keep your identity safe? How do you keep transactions secure? And then I think another challenge is having the systems in place to support the processing and the authentication of that data. As technology advances, and we want these things out of convenience, there’s also all the backend stuff that needs to be there to support that.

Ron Luchene (10:45):
Yeah, I would add to that and everything you just said is a hundred percent correct. You think back to the days when losing your identity meant you lost your wallet, and today that’s just not the case. I mean, being able to, from a cyber perspective, getting to someone’s identity is becoming easier and easier for thieves to chase. And in many cases, I see it even with my own family, when we talk about passwords and that kind of thing, and just how easy it is to compromise passwords. So identity is, it’s at a risk and the things that we’re putting out there from a digital standpoint, in many cases that kind of risk could ruin you financially or from many other perspectives. I think the other challenge too, especially from the government side, is that there’s a slow adoption rate for them to take on authentication of digital type identity.

And we see some states where things like the driver’s license that Diane just mentioned being a digital image on a phone is perfectly acceptable and you go to other states and it’s not even thought of today. It’s not even on the roadmap. And so getting to a place where it’s generally accepted across the board really allows you to begin to take next steps. So when it comes to deploying technology, I should say. So yeah, it’s an interesting shift. And it’s one that in the beginning I thought would roll very, very quickly. And it seems like in some cases it’s just stalled, but at the same time, you see what’s happening just from a communications device standpoint, I should say. And IOT devices, the amount of things that are flowing digitally today as compared to even five years ago, it’s incredible. And so it’s going to push the identity side of this as well.

Leigh Dow (12:38):
I was thinking about the digital representation of driver’s licenses the other day, because I believe they are allowed in the state that I live in. And I was thinking for states that it’s not allowed in. I was like, my phone is the most me, that is me. If you want to know me, the real me, it’s all in there.

Ron Luchene (12:59):
No, that’s exactly right. And if you think back, I remember a study, it was about 12 years ago when we were looking at a college campus and trying to determine what’s the best way to secure this campus. And when you thought about physical IDs or keys or what you would do with a cell phone, and the truth was in the end that students lost cards, they lost keys. The cell phone was never more than about five feet from their body. And so it’s going to continue to be the driver that takes us through and helps transform what’s happening today in the phygital world.

Leigh Dow (13:33):
For both of you, how do you think our increasingly phygital world will continue to transform the human experience?

Ron Luchene (13:42):
Loaded question. Look, it’s convenience. When I think about it, having everything in one place is convenience, and that excites me. The other side of me, the side that lives on a mountain in Western North Carolina, wishes the whole world would just slow down and get back to the days that things were maybe simpler, but that’s just not reality anymore. And I think that this will continue to drive who we are, what we do, how we do it. It’s not going to slow down at this point. Certainly more adopted by the generations behind us than the generation we are.

Leigh Dow (14:22):
How about you, Diane?

Diane Kehlenbeck (14:23):
Yeah, no, I agree. I think adding convenience, I mean, there’s things that we can do today that we couldn’t do just two years ago that now we can’t imagine going through life without those conveniences, things we can do on our phone. I was just on a trip and had layovers and from my phone, I could get an Uber and I could book a hotel room. And I was thinking about that back in the day before we had smartphones, that’s a very difficult thing to do, and now it’s just so easy to make those things happen. So I think those kinds of things are going to just continue to evolve. I think there’s going to be, as technology evolves, the cyber attacks are also, the advancements in that are also going to, we’ll see an increase in that. So there’s always going to be that challenge of security, but I think there is going to be certainly evolving technology that is going to make life so much more convenient and hopefully safe and secure.

Ron Luchene (15:30):
Yeah. The last thing I would add to that is that I really see today, the residential home automation, beginning to drive what goes on within the traditional security industry. And when you think about what we do day in and day out for our clients, whatever you can get to manage on your phone for your home is now expected in the workplace and that’ll continue to drive product development and really push this whole subject from a digital experience. And what we’re talking about today.

Leigh Dow (16:05):
Yeah. I was thinking about when Diane, when you were describing that about being able to do all those things from your phone. I was thinking about, I left the house the other day and I forgot my phone and I felt so weird. I felt so weird.

Yeah. Yeah. Allison was saying you feel a little panicked. And I was like, well, it almost gives you that little bit of anxiety. What am I supposed to do without my phone? And then while I was on vacation, I was out kayaking and I had my phone in one of those wet bags and I could feel it. I could hear it like buzzing every now and then. And I was like, you’re on vacation, you’re on a kayak. Do not be looking at your phone. But it’s really tough. It’s tough to, that’s such a “firmly implanted in my hand at almost all times” device that definitely has taken on a life of its own.

Diane Kehlenbeck (17:05):
Yeah. It’s hard to disconnect for sure.

Leigh Dow (17:07):
Yeah.

Ron Luchene (17:07):
Yeah.

Leigh Dow (17:08):
Well, it’s been really great talking with both of you today. Appreciate you taking the time to join us.

Ron Luchene (17:13):
Absolutely. Thank you.

Diane Kehlenbeck (17:14):
Thank you so much.

Leigh Dow (17:15):
And for our audience, if you like this podcast, please like and subscribe.

Speaker 1 (17:19):
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