Article posted: Aug 19, 2016

By John Moran, Director, Minerva Security - VERSASEC GUEST BLOGGER

A lot has been said and written about cloud-based physical security systems, and it raises some questions. For instance, how safe are they? What are the benefits associated with the cloud-based systems? What are some of the challenges? How can physical security systems be integrated to the cloud?

The easiest place to start is at the beginning. Physical security, for the purposes of this blog, simply means the protection of networks, personnel and hardware from physical circumstances and events that may cause serious damage to an institution, agency or enterprise. It includes protection from unauthorized access, fire, vandalism, natural disasters and terrorism.

Most individuals and organizations overlook and underestimate the importance of physical security in favor of technical and dramatic issues such as viruses and spyware. However, it is important to note that attackers with little or no technical knowledge can fairly easily carry out physical security attacks.

Crucial Components

Here are three important components of physical security:

Place obstacles in the way of the sites and potential attackers. The obstacles can be hardened against environmental disasters and accidents. Examples of these include using smart card security devices, multiple locks and fireproof safes.

Utilize surveillance and notifications systems such as cameras, intrusion detection systems, alarms, and detectors.

Employ methods that can be implemented aiming to apprehend the attacker before causing any damage.

Integrating Physical and Cloud Security

In my opinion, no amount of physical security can’t be enhanced by also adopting a cloud-based system integration technique. Some of the benefits of a system that integrates physical and cloud security include a couple of key areas.

The first is using the latest and adopting the greatest security measures available, including sophisticated encryption. Transferring information such as surveillance footage to the cloud ensures its availability if it is needed in the future.

It also is important to work with world-class service providers to host the data, making it easier to offer regular, state-of-the-art and quick technology updates.

Strong Authentication and More

Some of the best security practices to adapt would include using strong authentication such as two-factor authentication based on smart cards and PKI; and always ensure the service provider has the necessary certifications and security precautions place. Auditing should be done on a regular basis.

Cybercrime and other related crimes have been on the rise recently. Is there any secure way of dealing with the menace? A lot has been done to cover the aspects of physical system security. However, there are still some loopholes that companies easily can address.

Access control systems

Using smart identification access management solutions, a data controller, or dedicated security employee, helps companies put restrictions on data access so information is only available to those who need it. Greater access limitations should be applied to sensitive data. Access is allowed to different users such as staff, third parties (such as contractors), business partners and customers. Some means for protecting data include having unique authentic access; encryption; software patching, and firewalls.

In the 21st century, physical and cyber domains need to converge at a technical level to bolster security. This is obtained by the merging of IP network and relocation of legacy sensors and appliances. For instance, nearly all cameras are IP-based and even the card readers employ IP networks.

Market Trends for Physical Security

Voice: Noise can now be detected in a large crowd.

Network: Security devices can now connect to the network, enabling better and faster surveillance and audit in security systems.

Video: Video is more accessible to everyone.

Converged badge: Making use of the same access token for both physical and logical access improves the security level for both purposes!

John Moran is a director at Minerva Security, which offers more than 70 years of experience in the commercial security and fire safety industry.

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