Another Update to Teleporte Dashboards

We upgraded all customers to Teleporte Cloud 3.16 this week, with new powerful data visualizations. This is a significant step forward. We share more data, in more useful ways, that leads to more informed and better decisions.

Here is a preview of some of the updates already available to all customers. One of the big advantages of using a cloud-based solution is that upgrades happen transparently in the background and are available to all customers instantly.

The new User tab now includes a dynamic graph of a user’s access history and new option to filter digital keys. 

A summary of a user’s lock notes and work session events is also accessible from the new User tab.

A new picking window to edit tags to add users and locks is convenient. It allows you to work on these fields without having to leave whatever page you’re working from.

Our customers can now add locks and assign keys to Teleporte sites more easily with the new intuitive web interface.

We also improved our mapping interface in 3.15. You can select contrast and points of interest with the new options menu. Access points can be filtered based on lock status (open, closed) and lock type (padlock and controllers).

This is just a preview of the powerful features of the Teleporte platform for managing distributed physical access. Contact us for a complete demo. We love to show this off.

RFID Badge and Card vs. Mobile Credentials

RFID cards and employee badges with RFID capability are ubiquitous. When we moved into our current office, the building came equipped with an RFID card access control system. We moved in during the pandemic when all but essential staff were working from home, meaning that installing our own Teleporte access control system was a lower priority and didn’t happen for several months. We understood first-hand how much more convenient it was to never have to worry about lost or misplaced cards once we migrated to Teleporte.

At the same time, we hadn’t fully appreciated the security risks that the RFID system had. On our journey toward ISO 27001, we catalogued all our risks. Key cutters are available at local hardware stores and with locksmiths available everywhere, but most people don’t know that RFID cards are just as easy as metal keys to copy or share. Not all digital access control systems are created equal.

RFID Card Cloning kits are relatively easy to procure

Upgrading your Digitized Access

Some digital access systems are

  • much more secure than others;
  • more convenient than others to install and integrate;
  • more user-friendly for whoever needs to get in the door or the gate;
  • easier to monitor and assign access.

You may want to consider upgrading a door on RFID to mobile credentials for all these good reasons. We often recommend running both systems concurrently for a while as the users adjust to the new system. Over weeks or months, users will surrender their cards. This can facilitate a smooth change to the new system. In fact, that’s what we did at our office, which has been the first intensive real-world test of our new SLC2 Lock Controller.

Contact us if you want to discuss your access control system’s evolution. If you’d rather just tune in and listen to stories of what can happen when you don’t maintain your security systems, you may enjoy this podcast.

Download with Confidence

We write all our own software at Sera4.

We choose to do it because we believe this is the best way to ensure both the security of the platform and the best possible user experience. Not all keyless access control providers insource their app development or software engineering resources. We believe that the risks are too high to save money like that.

There are some things you can look at before downloading an app that can give you some clues to how well-designed and maintained it is.

  • How recent was the latest update? Operating systems constantly change and security threats evolve. Apps need to be constantly updated to keep pace. We suggest that an app that hasn’t been updated within the last 4 months has been suffering for lack of attention.
  • How many downloads does it have? This can give a good sense of how much real-world use this mobile app has seen. Apps with recent Release Dates or few downloads may still have some bugs to work out.
  • How big is it? Bigger downloads are often a result of the inclusion of cross-platform libraries, media or extra code. All this extra code can present added attack surface. Besides, who wants to run out of phone memory faster?
Teleporte on Google Play — captured on April 11, 2022.

And, of course, take a look at the ratings and reviews in the app store, and decide for yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about how we design the app, our embedded code, our cloud servers for security from the ground up, contact us.

PS. Of course, we code our embedded firmware and cloud servers 100% in-house at Sera4 as well, and our apps are coded natively and independently for Android and for iOS.

Modern Cloud Solutions Make On-Premise Deployments Obsolete

In the old days, computer programs ran on a computer. This makes perfect sense in the era where the computer was a standalone machine. The first server applications are the same: they ran on a specific server – a computer in a server room somewhere that was a single point of failure. If there was a power outage, a network outage, a cyber-attack or a fire where that one server was, it was a major crisis. On-premise deployments follow this outdated paradigm.

Modern cloud services are different. Let’s take Teleporte Cloud as an example. We take advantage of the ubiquity of the Internet. We split all the small computing tasks that build the whole service into what are called microservices

Microservices

Microservices don’t live in just one place. They are distributed and self-healing and adapt to disruptions in network infrastructure. They also exist fairly independent of place: microservices are hosted across the globe and any one of a multitude of identical stateless microservices on the Teleporte network can service a request. It’s not just a routine running on one physical computer anymore. As a Canadian company we serve our clients in Tierra Del Fuego and Malawi with exactly the same high reliability we serve clients in New York. Technically speaking, we operate to a 2N+1 redundancy standard.

Modern network infrastructure also isn’t like it was a decade ago. There isn’t one point of failure or one cable that someone might haphazardly cut with a backhoe. Of course network damage happens from time to time, but with a distributed microservice architecture our users don’t notice as the system adapts around it.

Service Reliability

Proper cloud services design and network monitoring are critical components of a high-reliability solution. At Sera4 we do all the coding and quality assurance for Teleporte Cloud in-house. More importantly, we build our own monitoring tools that ensure network health and service availability. We monitor service availability with this tool, globally and 24/7. 

Sera4's internal network health monitoring tool
Part of Sera4’s internal live network health monitoring dashboard

Of course, a network administrator will need a general connection to the internet to work. Fortunately, these are often redundant with wired, wifi and cellular options to reach the internet. Like any good modern web interface today, we design our admin consoles to work on monitors found in network operations centers and equally on the small screens of our mobile phones. 

Reminder: Teleporte keys work and log activity as usual in case of a network outage.

Perhaps the last major concern is cybersecurity. Modern cloud solutions are definitely more secure (and certainly more carefree) than an on-premise solution. As new threats emerge, our systems update automatically to minimize risk. We keep everything updated to work with new phone models as well.  From DDOS avoidance to load-balancing, we design the solution to be fully resilient.

Of course, we’d love to show off how this can work for you and why you don’t have to worry about racking another server in order to get the best of keyless access control. Request a demo with us to take the next step.

When Subscription Models Make Sense

We encourage anyone buying a product or service to think critically about why it may be sold by subscription. In some cases, the subscription is tied to consumables. In other cases, the subscription is tied to access to content (like streaming services). Sometimes, it’s just a supplier who did the financial calculus and forces it for the shareholder returns.  

subscription screen on tablet - access control

In other cases, such as with our cloud-enabled access control software platform Teleporte, it’s tied to constant updates to keep up with phone models, security updates, and real-time support for your operational peace of mind. We continue to add value over the lifetime of the subscription, and our customers choose us over other solutions because of this added value. 

We believe that our Teleporte subscriptions are valuable for the advanced features that are possible with keyless systems. We also believe that there is far more value for our customers in these systems than the price of the subscription. For customers who agree with this, they will continue with Teleporte Enterprise or Standard.  

For customers who don’t see the value, or customers who simply have budgets cut (like many of our municipal customers did at the start of the pandemic), then we have Teleporte Basic. It’s free, and allows the locks to maintain basic keyless access functionality, but they otherwise behave like mechanical locks, with no reporting and no advanced features. It’s our way of providing assurance that we’re never going to hold you (or your property) hostage. 

We sell new hardware with a minimum one-year Teleporte Enterprise or Standard subscription. We want our customers to have some time with a subscription package to experience the value to their application and organization, and then make an informed decision whether to renew. We also offer packages for customers who prefer to just pay once, up-front.  

Selling a one-time purchase can be easy. Keeping loyal customers, who renew their subscriptions, requires a different level of service, reliability, and product quality. We want our customers to love, value, and renew their Teleporte subscriptions, and we do the work to keep them happy.  

We see good reasons for some offerings to be structured as subscriptions. Ultimately, the decision on whether a subscription is a good value and a smart buy is up to the customer. In our view, it’s really important that the structure and costs of an offering is clearly explained in advance, so that the customer can make an informed decision.  

If you’d like to learn more about Teleporte and our access control hardware solutions, book a demo at https://www.sera4.com/demo/

We sell identity (not just access control)

Security. Reliability. Scalability. These are all things that we’re proud to provide to our customers, and that our customers have come to rely on. One thing we don’t talk about enough is identity. We have a suite of hardware and software solutions to help utilities, telecom, oil & gas, and other industries provide access control to their assets and critical infrastructure. But that’s not really what we’re selling. We’re selling identity intelligence, and we think it’s the most important thing we do.

The basics of identity intelligence are easy to understand: you want to know who’s accessing your assets, and when. That’s why our customers choose Sera4 over other types of access control solutions—in addition to high-quality wireless padlocks that eliminate the inherent challenges of traditional keys, Sera4 provides insights into which individuals are accessing your critical infrastructure, when they’re accessing it, and how long they’re staying.

Hand holding phone showing Sera4 access control app

These types of insights are useful for three reasons. First, and most simply, people behave better when they know they are being identified. We’ve found that vandalism on a telecom site is reduced by 60-80% when a person is tagged on site, and is held accountable for what happens while they’re there. Even when you have no bad actors in your organization or contractor network, that level of accountability helps ensure that individuals clean up and lock up the way they’re expected to.

Second, keyless locks provide automatic, real-time audit trails, eliminating the need for manual logs that are frequently subject to human error. For businesses that require audit trails for their own security or for certifications like ISO 9001, keyless locks provide much easier collection of these activity logs.

And third, and maybe most interestingly, is that once you know who is accessing controlled assets when, and how long they’re staying, you can learn a lot about processes in your organization, and how to optimize them and make them more efficient. This is why we released Work Sessions; using Teleporte, our customers can understand the flow of on site work, and gain insight into how long specific components of a process take.

Screenshot of Sera4 access control dashboard with map and audit log

Regularly analyzing audit trails and entry/exit data allows you to create a baseline for how long specific jobs take, and use that information to make better decisions. For example, these insights can help you define scope of work and billing with contractors. They can help you reconcile invoices for work performed—in fact, one of our customers is considering adding opening and closing the Sera4 lock to the SOP for all contractors, so he can analyze the data and find areas for improvement. The insights from Teleporte can also help you determine the capacity of and forecast changes for your workforce.

Our solutions allow our customers to manage identity across any number of sites, in any location, at scale. Whether you need 10 locks and keys, or 10,000, we provide a complete feature set and predictable, transparent pricing. If you’d like to see our solution in action, or learn more about how our customers are using Sera4 to safeguard their most critical assets, contact us.

Hidden Access Control: Security through Obscurity

Sometimes the best way to protect something is to hide it.

To some people, a keyhole or a padlock or a handle on something will act as a public notice that reads Valuables Inside. Those who are motivated to steal notice these signals. And when they’re identified by those people, they can tell the story about how to break them at a glance.

With keyless access, you can design a more secure system to protect your assets with a fully hidden mechanism. Imagine how the hood of your car opens, and you’ll have a good idea of what we mean. With a Sera4 Lock Controller, you can design a door, a panel or other secure hinged compartment that pops open by the touch of a smartphone. A door like this is more secure because it’s more hidden. It won’t have a handle, a keyhole, a padlock or other signals that it opens. And even when somebody might want to break in, it’s not clear where or how to start an attack.

Vertical Infrastructure: AX5 controlling access on a smart light pole.

5G demands denser networks in urban areas. This means that communications equipment is being installed in places like fake trees, park benches and lamp posts. These are places where people aren’t expecting to find anything valuable, and keeping access points obscure keeps them out of sight and out of mind. The only way to tell that there is an access point is to check with the Teleporte app on your phone.

Reliability

In the unfortunate event of a system failure, a door without a handle can be a difficult thing to open. The most common type of failure is a power failure: dead batteries. This is where our Access Pad can help. It provides a power connector (for a common 9V battery) to conveniently and discreetly power a dead system to get it open. In the rare case of a radio or app incompatibility, the Access Pad enables our Failsafe Unlock feature.

Sera4 Access Pad

With the latest technology, access points can be designed to be more secure and look better at the same time.

Please reach out to us. Each application is a little bit unique. We’d love to discuss how we can help conceal your access points.

How Teleporte achieves Scale, Security & Reliability

Our own Jeff Klink is interviewed by SiliconAngle at Kubecon 2020 and authored an article in InformationAge, sharing how Teleporte Cloud is designed for scale, security and reliability. Both pieces focus on Sera4’s leading transformation into a distributed microservices cloud architecture, with some recommendations for others who want to follow us.

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You (Webhooks Are Here)

With every security component added into a critical infrastructure, comes the inherent need for information, automation and control. As the number of critical components in your infrastructure grow, so does complexity and the necessity to stream information as it happens. Integrators and clients are now looking to being on the receiving end of data in real time in order to provide critical dashboard updates. We’ve listened and we’ve delivered.

With Teleporte Cloud server 3.5, we have added a critical component to our API capabilities: the concept of webhooks. In a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” manner, Teleporte Cloud is now capable of calling your secure endpoint with real-time data concerning events that are happening inside your system. Webhooks are to APIs as fuel is to a fire; they can ignite your integrations and get your organization on the receiving end of updates as they happen. Remember, polling APIs is so 1990’s, go real-time by enabling webhooks.

To better understand what the difference between an API and Webhooks are, consider this simple analogy:

APIs are request based. They are useful for pulling data on demand.
Webhooks are event-based. They are useful for receiving critical events when they happen.

API + Webhooks = Complete Automation Capabilities

Teleporte Cloud now supports webhooks that can be configured for updates to important events (such as the creation or deletion of digital keys), access requests to locks and even the creation, deletion or update of system users. As an example, if you’re looking to know that ‘administrator X with email [email protected] created a digital key to lock 21, on site B that is valid from Tuesday at 9am to Tuesday at 5pm’ as it happens, then webhooks are your holy grail! Get on top of and react quicker to events happening in your infrastructure by enabling webhooks.

Feel free to ask us about our Slack integration. Our webhooks support Slack out of the box and can have your team seeing the benefits of webhooks within seconds.

Get more details about webhooks at https://apidocs.sera4.com or contact us to discuss how you can get webhooks working for you.

High-Security Keyless

In protecting your assets, there is always a tradeoff between convenience and security. For example, when you go into your office every day, you want to get in through the main doors without any delay.  But when the asset requires the highest security,  added rigour such as additional security checks are necessary.

The vault application is a good example of how keyless solutions are catching up with old standards for addressing high-security requirements.

  • Vaults often include locks whereby 2 keys are required and placed more than 6 feet apart. Two individuals, each of whom have their own unique key, must open the lock at the same time for the door to open. This approach prevents a single rogue actor from opening a door when they do not have authorized access
  • Another high-security standard opens a door after several minutes of unlock delay. This delay, connected with alarms, is a strong deterrent for criminals. They know that law enforcement will be coming while they are waiting for the door to open.

Bringing these features to Keyless

Sera4 has released Teleporte Cloud server 3.5 and Teleporte Mobile application 5.2. All Teleporte Enterprise customers now have access to high-security protocols to match the use cases above. 

  • The new Multi-Authentication Unlock feature requires two or more users to unlock a lock. Each user has their own key for that one lock and each user must issue the unlock command to the same lock. The lock only opens after all required users try to open the lock on their own account.
  • The new Delayed Open feature can be enabled on a lock-by-lock basis. The administrator can configure the delay. When someone unlocks a Sera4 lock in the Teleporte Mobile application, it will open only after the specified delay.

At Sera4, we envision a fully keyless world. With these innovations, we bring keyless benefits to the highest-security applications, such as vaults. We expect that there will be many applications for these new features that we haven’t even imagined yet.

For more information on the available features on the Teleporte Cloud server, click here. Or simply and contact us to arrange for a demo. We’re excited to show off our latest innovations.