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Traditionally, physical security and cyber security were managed by different departments who rarely, if ever, communicated with one another. In today’s environment, the line between the two is blurring, resulting in physical security becoming an essential part of cyber security.

What Is Physical Security in the Digital Age?

The term physical security is described as the tools and processes a business uses to protect facilities, people, data, networks, hardware, and software against actions someone could take to physically attack or interfere with these elements.

A recent survey conducted by the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence found that over 80% of business leaders agree with the following statements:1

  • There has been a dramatic increase in physical threat activity.
  • Companies are reaching a turning point that will lead to prioritizing physical security measures to combat the increase in related threats.
  • Unmanaged physical threats are increasing risk levels and producing negative impacts on financial health and business continuity capabilities.

It’s not always easy to bring physical and cyber security together because they are managed in different departments with leaders who view the security issue differently. But the move is on to make that convergence happen.

Consider the following example: if someone hacks into your access control system and lets a criminal onto your premises that gains physical access to your sensitive records, who do you call? Should you call your chief security Officer (CSO) or your chief information security officer (CISO)? Ideally, the two will work together to address the problem. And eventually, they may both work in the same department to provide all security services.

How Do Physical Security and Cyber Security Work Together?

When physical services and cyber services meet, they often create a cyber-physical system (CPS). A CPS networks the interaction between computational and physical components.2 The technology is focused on developing the capability to integrate cyber and physical systems. It is different from IoT, which is intended to provide smart devices to machines that transmit data about the status of their operation.

In some cases, hackers have found that an easy way to steal your data is to obtain physical access to it. Once a hacker has access to your physical location, they can simply plug into an IP connection or walk off with a laptop. Hackers can also use physical security systems as attack vectors. Once they control your physical security systems, they can disable or reprogram them with disastrous results.

When physical and cyber security aren’t working together properly, your network is vulnerable to devastating zero-day attacks. Learn how to protect against zero-day attacks by downloading our free guide.

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However, if your security services work in concert, you can:

  • Protect Sensitive Data. When IP-connected physical security systems aren’t properly protected, a cyber criminal can access them through the network by attacking a poorly secured WiFi network or IoT device. Once in the network, a hacker could do things such as incapacitate surveillance cameras, alarms, and other physical security components. The result would be giving the hackers complete access to your physical locations to put your employees in danger and steal sensitive information.
  • Mitigate Workplace Violence. Any cyber attack on physical security systems can mask workplace violence, making it difficult for security employees to respond.
  • Safeguard physical equipment. Another way hackers can wreak havoc is to adjust your HVAC settings to temperatures that would render your servers inoperable.
  • Prevent hackers from using physical security devices for attacks. Unprotected IoT devices could include elevators, surveillance cameras, and WiFi locks. Once a device is connected to your network, it becomes a vulnerability that cyber criminals may take advantage of and needs protection.
  • Prevent the introduction of malware on physical equipment. If your physical equipment isn’t protected, a hacker can easily hack into the equipment and plant malware. Once in that equipment, the hacker can access your network and mount even more destructive attacks, including ransomware and data breaches.

How Access One Can Help

At Access One, we understand how critical physical services are to our customers. That’s why we have partnered with Verkada, an award-winning company that protects people, assets, and privacy at scale with cloud-based building security systems.

Access One provides extensive, fully managed IT Security Services to help you protect your operations. In addition to physical security services, you may need services including:

  • A risk assessment to identify your vulnerabilities
  • Security monitoring and threat detection for your network
  • Security awareness training to create a human firewall
  • A disaster recovery strategy
  • A business continuity plan
  • IT help desk services available 24/7

The experts at Access One are available to assist. Get in contact with Access One if you want to ensure your physical security or take advantage of the other IT security services we can provide.



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