Physical Security and its Convergence with Information Security

The traditional definition of physical security was confined to people and things, but this has changed. Today, even access control and various other parameters are part of the broader definition of Physical Security. Consequently, the challenge to secure physical and information security have compounded over the years, as even a minor lapse in physical security can result in huge data and information theft.

Security Challenges have compounded in this era

With devices taking a major role in current security paradigm, investing in security systems —which can guard against unauthorized access and natural disasters alike — is more important than it was ever before. Of course, there are traditional ways like video surveillance and access control —but current challenges demand more streamlined and secure processes.

To meet up these challenges — which warrants integration and enhanced security at the same time — vendors have come with devices that converge physical and digital security technologies. One common example of such devices is IP-based cameras. This is evolving and expected to continue to remain a major trend in physical security solution market.

Also, current physical security solutions are not confined to access control or guarding physical assets, but they also endeavour to ensure the safety of employees. This was an overlooked concept. But organizations have realized that if a dangerous situation arises in the facility, it is important to have a system in place that can notify people concerned. This would help control the damage and also ensure safety of the people.

IoT has made Physical Security more important today than it was ever before

In the current era, devices have an attribute, and hence, are a part of the security infrastructure — just like humans. Therefore, it is essential not just to monitor the data access, but also the device location. This means need for the convergence of both physical and logical security into a single security system. Physical security deals with tracking users, areas accessed by them, the time of access, the duration of access etc., whereas, logical security deals with tracking the devices they use, data access rules, etc.

The developments in Physical Security Systems revolve around two primary challenges that internet of things (IoT) has brought in. First is connecting physical security devices — like surveillance cameras — to the internet and ensuring its protection from hackers. Second is to use an organization’s existing surveillance and intrusion devices.

IoT presents a way to improve both physical security and access management. For instance, with IoT and cloud management, you can use the existing systems and mark scalable improvements — which can be then shared across the network.

Convergence of Physical Security and Information Security

Information security deals with managing data: both at rest and during the transit. Information and physical security form the overall security system of an organization. Recently, Scott Borg, director of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit (US-CCU), said —“As long as organizations treat their physical and cyber domains as separate, there is little hope of securing either one.”

Till now, there were two separate entities of the larger security paradigm, but this is changing. Today, devices and services are being converged — a transformation driven by the migration of legacy sensors and appliances to TCP/IP.

Convergence of voice with data has brought about changes in various fields; in fact, the traditional terms like voice and video are more inclusive than they were ever before. For instance, voice now refers to crowd monitoring, noise detection in a vacant building, etc. Hence, this term is not confined to audio any more. Similarly, the term video now also refers to surveillance — through traffic camera etc. — which was traditionally limited to video calls.

This integration of devices connected with a specific attribute — like the internet, paves the way to the integration of physical and logical security. Today, the versatility of various devices has made their specific purpose irrelevant — as the functionality of these devices can overlap. This also results in higher traffic. For instance, with the rise of cloud services, the access of data is not confined to intranet any more.

Therefore, network redesigning may be required in case the existing network is not suitably designed to handle the rise in traffic. As new technologies, and devices come into fray, this would continue to evolve, and would result in the higher integration of devices.

Keywords: Physical Security, Information Security, Logical Security, Access Controls, Biometrics, Video Surveillance, Internet of Things, Smart Cameras, Convergence 

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