As industrial companies rely more and more on asset tracking information to manage operations, protecting their data becomes more important than ever. Unfortunately, computer hackers are a highly sophisticated group, often possessing skills and technologies that outstrip the capabilities of businesses focused on trying to serve their customers. Moreover, data thieves can be relentless in their efforts to infiltrate company networks and steal information that can compromise an entire business and its customers.
That’s why it’s so important to partner with an asset tracking provider that employs the latest in data security tools and technologies. If you’re considering investing in an asset tracking system to optimize asset utilization, the following FAQs cover important information you need to know regarding asset tracking and data security.
What is the best approach for asset tracking providers to protect their clients’ data?
Because data security is so critical, industry experts recommend a multi-layered approach that provides data security at four points of contact, or layers.
- Endpoint layer. This involves securing the asset tracking device that relays the data to the tag reader and, ultimately, to the Internet.
- Network layer. This protects the data as it is being transmitted to the asset tracking software platform.
- Data application layer. This is what most people think of when they think about data security – detecting and protecting against outside intrusion into the system.
The final security layer consists of ongoing, high-level threat analysis and management. This involves collecting and analyzing data from the other three layers on a regular basis to identify, isolate and manage any threats to the system.
What specific technologies are used to protect each layer?
The technologies employed at the layer level are many and varied.
- Device layer. To protect the hardware (i.e., the asset tracking device) that transmits data to the Internet, manufacturers typically build in user verification security measures. The most secure devices include a subscriber identification module (SIM), which uses an integrated circuit to securely store the subscriber’s identity number, which authenticates the reader, smart phone or other mobile device of the person scanning the data.
- Connectivity layer. To secure the connections and the data from asset trackers to the software platform, asset manufacturers can employ virtual private networks (VPNs), commercial connectivity service (CCS) and custom private Access Point Names (APNs).
VPNs encrypt data, so you can send and receive data across public networks as if you were connected to a private network. A CCS connects your wide area network to a large cellular network, so you only have one remote location to secure. APNs act as a gateway between your mobile network and the Internet to ensure the connection between the asset tracker and scanning device is approved.
- Data/application layer. To protect this layer, asset tracking providers typically employ a variety of security tools and technologies, including onsite and cloud-based firewalls, encryption, DDoS (distributed denial of service) mitigation, and cloud web security. DDoS mitigation tools are designed to actively resist and mitigate outside attacks intended to disrupt or shut down system performance. Cloud web security works by rerouting data to the cloud rather than directly to the platform server. This enables the cloud to filter and block unwanted attempts to use the system.
- Threat analysis layer. Identifying and managing threats starts with understanding how, when, where and by whom your asset tracking devices are being used. Specifically, it involves analyzing data traffic from each device, connection or application for anomalies in order to identify and respond to potential threats.
As the asset tracking industry continues to evolve toward Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, what techniques are used to protected IoT devices?
As mentioned above, it starts with embedding endpoint, network, data/application, and threat management security measures to protect the physical and media layers of the network. The same needs to be done with “edge” devices – the PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones people use to access the data and interact with the system. Other recommended strategies include:
- Building security measure into the network that specifically address the challenges of protecting applications
- Incorporating a cloud strategy and security posture
- Maintaining security integrity throughout the life cycle of each asset tracking device
- Matching the right security technology to each potential threat and how it might evolve over time
At Tenna, we take data security – yours and ours – very seriously. Through our relationship with AT&T, we are able to take advantage of many of their security services, including their SIMs, APNS and more, to make our hardware devices and our software platform as safe and secure as possible. To further enhance the security of our product, we:
- Host all customer data on Amazon Web Services (Elasticsearch and Postgres).
- Use HTTPS-level browser protection and hashed passwords for all users. This limits access to the system through a dedicated web portal that does not allow any other type of network access.
- Do not allow SSH, FTP or other types of access to our web servers.
- Protect our back-end database with secure passwords and very limited access.
- Use randomized database, usernames and passwords and change them every two months.
- Perform daily back-ups of all data.
- Run all code from a git repository, regularly restarting the servers as they scale and are removed. Each startup pulls code from git and starts with a clean system image.
- Use Heroku, which implements the latest Linux system patches and libraries.
- Limit the possibility of rogue software by only installing what we need on host machines.
- Use secure JWT tokens, signed with a 256-bit key, for interactions with Tenna APIs.
- Limit access to our production site administrative functions to two people.
- Use signed images on our remote devices; software upgrades can only take place with valid signatures.
- Do not allow VPN access to the Tenna local LAN, which prevents remote access to employee workstations.
- Employ virus scanning on all laptops used at Tenna.
- Lock down all access to Tenna through our firewall.
For asset tracking as secure as you can get, call Tenna at 833-50-TENNA, or book a demo today.
The Business of IoT
There’s a lot of talk these days about IoT, or the Internet of Things. But what, exactly, is IoT and what does it do?
Simply put, IoT is the vast network of physical devices embedded with electronics, software, sensors or actuators that connect with each other via the Internet in order to collect and exchange information. Most people are already familiar with IoT devices through home appliances, vehicles, smart watches, personal health monitors and other commercial products. However, it won’t be long – some experts predict as soon as 2020 – before sufficient resources will exist to connect almost any device we can think of to the Internet. In fact, some statistics suggest that more than 30 billion devices will be connected by this time.
By now, we’re all used to being able to instantly share information that resides on the Internet with anyone at any time. But the ability to track, monitor, study and share information that resides on any physical object, anywhere, at any time, has staggering implications for the business world and the world at large.
In particular, IoT is grabbing the attention of businesses because several dynamics are coming together at the same time to foster the growth of IoT and the ability to use it to build more successful commercial enterprises. These dynamics include:
- Technology advances in smart phones and tablets. Increasingly, these devices have the capacity to act as remote computers, allowing users in the field to stay connected with each other and the home office.
- Deployment of cloud-based markets and services. By removing the need to store data on hard drives, devices such as computers, smart phones and other mobile tools can run more apps and collect more data without having to worry about where to put it. Cloud services also make it easier to share data throughout organizations by having it in one centralized location rather than storing in on separate and often isolated hard drives.
- Lower technology costs. Economies of scale due to high product demand are dramatically reducing the cost of sensors – such as micro-controllers and boards that connect to different networks – that make the connections and data transmission more affordable.
- Increase in IoT network providers. Both traditional and new network providers, such as Verizon, T-Mobile®, AT&T®, Vodafone, Sprint®, Rogers, Telus and more are developing new technologies to connect IoT devices, extend battery life and use less power.
Working together, these dynamics are driving the rapid growth of IoT by providing a powerful business intelligence tool that enables companies to build competitive advantages through more comprehensive and precise data tracking.
IoT and Asset Tracking
Considering that construction, oil and gas and other heavy industrial companies rely on their physical assets, it’s no surprise that IoT is already transforming the processes of industrial asset tracking. With IoT, preventative maintenance, temperature metering and other critical operational procedures are rapidly becoming faster, easier and less expensive. For industrial companies, the question isn’t, “Should we incorporate IoT into our business?” It’s, “How do we do it and how quickly can we get it done?”
As a leader in the asset tracking market, Tenna was one of the first to understand the unlimited potential of IoT and begin incorporating it into our asset tracking systems. We started by developing a series of IoT-capable sensors and trackers that transmit data to our cloud-based platform, enabling industrial enterprises to easily identify the locations and maintenance needs of their assets. Our most recent example is the TennaONE tracking device, which features the latest 4G LTE standards (LTE CAT M1 and NB1) currently being deployed by wireless carriers.
As an IoT business, Tenna provides more than just the ability to easily track assets anywhere and everywhere. Our IoT solutions offer new capabilities to bring efficiencies into many different areas of the business. For example, the data collected from IoT can assist management with process flows for pre-planning for projects, automating processes for logistics, and enabling employees to work more efficiently. It can also help with the process of planning and budgeting for large capital expenditures for needed tools and equipment.
One of the most immediate impacts of IoT is its ability to facilitate the mass collection of data to improve asset maintenance. In the past, gathering data on the status of heavy equipment and vehicles was a largely manual process. IoT-enabled assets can proactively transmit the data without needing to be prompted by human intervention. For example, suppose a component of an asset is starting to perform at inefficient or unsafe levels. With IoT solutions, the asset will automatically stream the information to the asset tracking system, where managers can evaluate and initiate the need for repairs or replacement.
By embedding assets with IoT monitoring tools, companies can track virtually all aspects of asset performance, from thermal properties and lubrication levels to vibrations, exhaust emissions and other indicators of asset health. With this unprecedented level of real-time data, managers can identify and rectify potential problems before equipment breaks down, thereby saving the time and cost of unexpected repairs.
Additional benefits of IoT solutions include:
- Reducing the need for human intervention by automating much of the inspection, diagnosis and work order process.
- Facilitating predictive (rather than reactive) maintenance. Real-time diagnostic data allows managers to maximize asset uptime by bringing vehicles in for maintenance during planned downtime.
- More precise costing. The difficulty with asset costing is tracking all the factors needed to get a complete picture of their costs. IoT solutions bring together data on everything from spare parts and work orders to asset conditions, predicted life cycles and other data needed to determine the true costs of company assets.
The possibilities for IoT to transform every aspect of your business are endless. Tenna is well-positioned for delivering successful solutions as the growing business of IoT expands into the construction industry. When it comes to asset management, you can count on Tenna to continue leading the way with IoT solutions that let you do more with your assets.
Technology is reshaping the world of asset management (and the world at large) faster than anyone could have anticipated. To get an idea of where our industry might be headed, Tenna asked three experts to share their ideas on upcoming changes that will rock our industry in the near and distant future.
Today: Positive Impacts of Asset Management to Key Stakeholders
As an experienced asset manager, George Heck offers an in-the-moment perspective on the current state of digital asset management. He defines assets not only as machinery, equipment and trucks, but also inventory items that are used and re-used on infrastructure jobsites and projects. Therefore, proper accounting for all assets in order to prepare accurate estimated bid proposals requires the willingness and discipline to adopt the correct asset tracking platform for the business.
An asset management strategy should include provisions that will effectively net the most utilized asset base with the greatest return on investment to provide future work. Asset management should be implemented on a field level to capture the true costs of assets as they enter a project and are tracked throughout the project. They can then be evaluated for future use elsewhere within the organization or disposed of completely.
This base level is where a comprehensive asset tracking platform can create the efficiencies in collecting the crucial data, whether through manual process or by autonomous means. Key areas impacted by accurate asset management include specific project or jobsite profitability, but this flows upward into specific areas of accounting, procurement and eventually into cost projections in estimating future work. Successes achieved with effective asset management can include:
- Reduced spending on unnecessary assets (equipment and truck) rentals or purchases
- Reduced spending for inventory items currently on project, but not accounted for
- Reduced spending on repairs of under and non-utilized equipment and trucks
- Increase of cash for disposing of certain under and non-utilized equipment and trucks
- Reduced insurance cost dependent on the amount of reduction in asset base
- Reliable and safer equipment being properly utilized to maintain cash flow levels
Increased automation of data into an asset management system allows companies to focus on the core strengths of building infrastructure projects. Digitization of the daily and weekly construction processes will continue to increase and be part of a system of continuous improvement, including more integrations with different software tools for accounting, real-time market valuations and disposition. A combination of accurate and efficient asset management will yield recognizable returns from the jobsite office trailer into the executive decision-making suite.
Tomorrow: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT)
Autumn Braswell, Chief Operating Officer for iQor, predicts that AI and IoT are beginning to converge in a way that will radically reshape the entire business landscape. When used together, the two technologies can provide an unprecedented level of support that allow businesses to unlock the full value of IoT and remain competitive. IDC, a global marketing intelligence firm, estimates that more than 80 percent of IoT spend through 2020 will be on B2B applications and use cases, becoming a primary driver of digital transformation.
One challenge with IoT-enabled applications is their ability to deliver service, product, customer support, business and operational data at a faster rate than ever. With so much data coming in, companies need new processes for gathering, analyzing and comprehending it all. Investing in AI will enable businesses to realize the full potential of IoT by housing the ability to make sense of the data and draw new insights that can be used for a competitive advantage.
For example, IoT will have a large impact on customer service, particularly in the areas of understanding where failures stem from, identifying customer issues and determining what product components need to be replaced. By applying AI technology to all the data and insights generated by IoT, businesses will be able to accurately predict product failures, the number of calls a specific call center will receive, and other service-related metrics and act accordingly.
Scott Amyx of Amyx Ventures agrees that disruptive technologies rarely work in isolation. In fact, he points out that it’s the convergence of technologies that drives up the innovation curve to a near-perfect 90-degree slope.
IoT plays a critical role in several ways, starting with the ability to quantify inanimate and animate objects to build a real-time data matrix of the world. From the environment and natural resources to buildings, cars, cities, homes and people, IoT will generate incredible volume, variety and velocity of data. That data will then feed the neural networks to understand patterns and create probabilistic predictions of future scenarios. That, in turn, will inform businesses, governments, and other organizations to make real-time, fact-based decisions that drive up optimization, productivity and efficiency while squeezing out cost and mitigating potential risks.
In addition to the symbiotic relationship between IoT and AI, the shift to distributed and decentralized computing networks is also driving the move to a fully connected world. For example, the long-established television paradigm of distributing network-created content to the masses via broadcast and cable is rapidly giving way to real-time streaming and user-generated content in a many-to-many distribution model. In the world of computing and data, we are seeing a similar shift from centralized (on premise servers, data centers, cloud) to decentralized. Not only is data being generated on decentralized IoT, it is also being stored and processed locally (wild fog).
Specialized AI chips are enabling decentralized machines and gadgets to run AI algorithms locally without ever needing to make API calls (Lambda functions to AWS) or roundtrips to process, store or disseminate. Meanwhile, wireless sensor networks are now being used to access distributed computational power, memory, storage, bandwidth and features of edge devices to perform jobs. All of which has huge implications for telecomm business models, cloud computing giants, privacy, data ownership and security. Working in unison, IoT, AI and blockchain will create a hyper-connected world that where every action and inaction will be quantified down to the iota. Think the Matrix – minus the human batteries.
Beyond: The Future of Humanity
According to Scott, the fourth and subsequent industrial revolutions will be both good and bad, depending on which segment of the population you belong to.
Advances in technology are about driving down costs. Over time, everything from genome sequencing to hard drive costs shrink to a tiny fraction of what they used to be. This benefits society by providing a much larger benefit for the same relative purchasing power, allowing us to consume more and enjoy more leisure as productivity frees up more time and resources. Impending technology disruptions will also create unimaginable new industries and jobs that we can’t begin to fathom today. Who would have thought a decade ago that Snapchat, an AR photo filter/chat app, would be worth billions while employing engineers to create AR filters for selfies?
But there are always two sides to every story. In this case, the imminent net job loss from artificial intelligence, robotics and the fourth industrial revolution is already impacting income inequality, leading to a rise in populism and nationalism around the globe. AI-driven cyber-physical automation is expected to displace 50% to 80% of the human workforce by 2030. As the pace of convergence of exponential technologies reaches a near-vertical slope, the trend of human displacement is unstoppable.
For the structurally unemployed and underemployed, this portends a bleak future with limited options. Only those with highly specialized Ph.Ds. in fields that create, train and maintain AI, robotic and advanced scientific and technical systems may have a place in the world of hyper-automation. Furthermore, as AI continues to master new niches, it will amass a superset of capabilities that will not only replace tasks but holistic job functions. Sooner than we can imagine, no senior executive, policymaker or subject matter expert will be safe.
A bleak picture, perhaps. But in his second book, “The Human Race: How Humans Can Survive in the Robotic Age,” Scott offers hope by proposing a vastly different, out-of-the-box solution called the Human Currency. A global economy and a cryptocurrency based on human-to-human empathy services, Human Currency will build the needed resiliency and sustainability into the system to ensure the viability of the human race for centuries to come.
Without question, the future will look very different from today. In the meantime, you can count on Tenna for cost-effective asset management solutions that will help your business will thrive in tomorrow’s industrial world.
Digital asset tracking is growing by leaps and bounds as more companies in the construction, oil and gas and other industrial industries learn about the business management benefits of this powerful technology. These days, management in most industrial companies has a basic understanding of what asset tracking technology is and what it can do. Yet, many companies that could (and should) be using asset tracking are still in the dark when it comes to understanding how asset tracking works and what kind of return on investment the technology produces. When companies interested in learning about our asset tracking system contact Tenna for the first time, we hear the following questions more than any others.
General Asset Tracking
How does digital asset tracking work?
Asset tracking uses high-tech tracking devices to monitor the location, status and performance of company assets ranging from large equipment and fleet vehicles to smaller tools and equipment and more. This information is then transmitted to a sophisticated software system, usually cloud-based, that allows managers to easily review and analyze the data to make better asset management decisions. Asset tracking enables companies to get more out of their assets by providing 24/7 visibility into when, where and how the company uses them.
Does digital asset management require buying new software and/or hardware?
In the early days of asset management technology, this was often the case. These days, the answer is a resounding “no.” Today’s sophisticated asset management solutions offer turnkey solutions that include all the hardware and software needed to get the full return on investment from the system. If an asset tracking system can’t do everything you need on one integrated platform that doesn’t require third-party add-ons, look for one that can.
Is it better to have the asset tracking data on our own internal system or in the cloud?
Cloud-based asset tracking, where the vendor hosts and manages the software, offers many advantages over managing the data on your own server system. It reduces IT costs by eliminating the problems associated with owning and operating your own server, which includes everything from installation and ongoing maintenance to troubleshooting, upgrades and system security. Cloud-based solutions also make it easier to share data throughout the company. You don’t have to worry about performing daily backups to prevent loss of data because the vendor does that for you. Most important, working in the cloud is no different than working on a program installed on desktop PCs. Users won’t notice any difference.
How long does it take to install and train people to use an asset tracking system?
That depends. If you decide to host the system on your own hardware, it can take weeks or even months to install an asset tracking system and work out all the bugs. You then have to invest the time to train personnel on the software.
If you take the cloud-based approach there is no software to install. You simply log into the software using the vendor’s secure web portal, take a short training course, and you’re ready to go. At Tenna, our 30-minute training session is usually enough for field and office personnel to learn the basic skills required to use the system.
What’s the typical return on investment?
ROI depends on many different factors, including the size and type of your company as well as the current state of your asset management process. In general, companies typically see quick and significant improvements in two key areas: reductions in operational cost and more efficient asset utilization. From reducing maintenance, labor and equipment replacement costs to bidding for and winning more jobs through improved customer service, asset management software quickly pays for itself while driving more dollars to your bottom line.
Asset Tracking Security
How secure are the devices used to track equipment and vehicles?
Digital asset management offers many features to make your data safe and secure, including the tracking devices themselves. Most asset tracking systems offer the ability to encrypt and password-protect the data on the devices. They also allow you to remotely delete data from laptops, tablets or other mobile devices that get lost or stolen.
At the same time, no technology is 100% safe from determined hackers. For example, technology-savvy criminals can use GPS “signal jammers” to disable GPS tracking devices in order to commit theft. However, using encryption and password protection features will provide a high level of data security with most asset trackers.
How secure is the software that stores the data?
That depends on the security systems and procedures employed by your service provider. At Tenna, we use a variety of security procedures to protect your data. For example, we host your data on Amazon Web Services, while utilizing HTTPS-level browser protection and hashed passwords for all users. We protect our back-end database with secure passwords and very limited access. We perform daily back-ups of all data, employ virus scanning on all laptops used at Tenna, and lock down all access to Tenna through our firewall. As a result of these and other security measures, we are A+ rated by QUALYS SSL LABS, which verifies proper use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol.
Note: for you IT folks who want the details non-techies don’t understand, we’ll be posting a blog soon that covers our security measures in more depth.
Is my data safer stored on my own servers or in the cloud?
Storing your asset tracking data in the cloud tends to be safer for several reasons. Because asset management vendors specialize in developing and managing software, they have more IT resources and expertise than most companies. They use the latest data security techniques to protect their systems against hackers, and they use multiple servers to ensure your data is properly backed up. Unless you have a sophisticated IT team that has the discipline to take the proper steps to prevent data breaches and back up the data every day, you’re better off going with the cloud.
What is the biggest security mistake companies make when tracking assets?
Failure to follow basic Internet security protocols. These include having secure passwords, changing those passwords on a regular basis, encrypting and backing up the data, and limiting access to your most sensitive data. Every company should have written data security procedures and make sure they are followed without exception.
What should I do to improve the security of my asset tracking system?
Take a disciplined approach to IoT security. Stay up to date on data security best practices. Constantly communicate with employees about the importance of data security and how to protect it. For example, never share user passwords, even among fellow employees. Make it a policy to change passwords on a regular basis. Remove former employees from the system as soon as they leave the company so they no longer have access.
At Tenna, we protect the safety and integrity of our customers’ data as rigorously as we protect our own. Use our system correctly, employ good cybersecurity procedures, and at the end of the day you can have confidence in knowing that your data is as safe and secure as today’s technology can make it.
When working hard to complete projects on schedule and within budget, preventive maintenance of your fleet equipment and vehicles can easily get overlooked or delayed. Yet, few things are more important for the growth of your business and your bottom line than taking good care of your capital-intensive assets.
Keeping your assets well-maintained improves safety on the road and at the job site, and helps complete jobs on time by reducing downtime for equipment and employees. Timely maintenance lowers fuel and operational costs because your assets work more efficiently. It also lowers repair costs (which average five times more than maintenance costs), while making it easier to comply with OSHA safety regulations. (more…)
For the past two decades, digital asset management has enabled construction companies to track their assets anywhere at any time with a minimum of manual involvement. This has produced significant improvements in operational efficiencies, lower costs and healthier bottom lines for construction companies of all types and sizes. (more…)
Asset management is one of the most difficult – and important – business processes for companies in construction, oil and gas, waste management and further industrial industries. Tenna makes it easy with our IoT (Internet of Things) asset tracking solutions.
Digital asset tracking is one of the most important business management tools for companies that depend on large fleets of vehicles, equipment and tools to serve their customers. Project managers, workflow schedulers, field supervisors, quality control engineers and others regularly rely on asset tracking to provide the data necessary to finish projects on time and within budget. (more…)
It costs a lot of money to own and operate construction equipment. It costs, even more, when they idle unnecessarily, break down or get lost or stolen. Tenna asset tracking can reduce these costs in three critical areas.
Completing projects on time and within budget is always a top priority for construction companies. Yet, experienced contractors know that achieving these goals can be a real challenge, especially without a modern asset tracking system. (more…)
When your equipment isn’t functioning properly, it costs your business money. Equipment downtime can idle workers, delay projects and negatively impact customer service. It also costs money to repair equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained. (more…)
Whether it’s laying pipe, erecting steel cell phone towers or paving roads, it takes a lot of equipment to get the job done. It also takes a lot of money to purchase, operate and maintain that equipment, and it can be frustrating – and costly – when employees don’t take care of it as well as they should. (more…)
Humans have been tracking their equipment for thousands of years. In the past, it was quite simple. Count how many sheep or goats you have and write it down – starting with clay tablets or papyrus and then advancing to paper.
In today’s highly competitive markets, companies that lead the way are those with the technology, tools and systems that turn raw data into actionable information. This is especially true for industries driving the world’s infrastructure.
If your company deploys assets in the field – such as machinery, equipment or vehicles – fleet management tracking or asset tracking is essential for managing costs and operating at optimum efficiency.
One day several months ago, I was visiting an equipment manager at a New England construction company. After we toured his yard he looked me in the eye and said, “We know what we have, we just don’t know where it is.”
Introduction to Tenna
First, welcome to Tenna, and thank you for visiting our website.