The power of the physical/cybersecurity combination

The power of the physical/cybersecurity combination
March 29, 2024  |  BY

Physical security and cybersecurity measures have traditionally been viewed as separate efforts. But integrating the two provides a host of benefits: enhanced threat detection, improved response efforts, decreased costs, and ultimately a stronger security presence.

Connecting both physical and cybersecurity is critical due to the ever-increasing interconnected world, both in business specifically and society in general. Consider the how The Internet of Things (IoT) is meshing more each day with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices. As such, the physical/digital security marriage becomes essential to prevent cyber attacks that can cause financial and reputational damage to organizations worldwide.

Physical security involves Access Control Systems like key card door locks and cloud-based systems; perimeter security such as fences, vehicle barriers, and access control points; and surveillance systems, intrusion Detection Systems, and security lighting and alarms. Cybersecurity can include firewalls, antivirus and antimalware software, intrusion Two-Factor Authentication, and regular updates.

Executed correctly, cybersecurity will be based on the Cybersecurty Framework, which was developed by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This framework is based on the following steps:

Identity: Start by identifying and categorizing assets, risks, and vulnerabilities, evaluating potential threats, and being aware of potential vulnerabilities.

Protect: Implement security measures to protect assets and data, which can include encryption, access controls, and other mechanisms that safeguard data from unauthorized access.

Detect: Deploy mechanisms that can quickly detect and respond to security incidents. This means proactive monitoring and alert systems that automatically react to abnormal activities or breaches.

Respond: Create an incident response plan that includes detailed response protocols, communication guidelines, reporting procedures, and a listing of stakeholders and their respective responsibilities.

Recover: Be sure to have a recovery response plan in place in case of a breach. This will minimize business disruptions and financial consequences.

Together, these five steps guide the integration of physical and cybersecurity. Truth be told, physical and cybersecurity professionals work closely at all times, but it’s most common in Cyber-Physical Systems. As integrated systems typically part of smart infrastructures, they are prime targets for hackers and cyberthieves.

This is one scenario for why integrating physical security and cybersecurity provides many benefits to the organization. Specifically, integrated physical and cybersecurity enhances protection at every single level of the organization, making computer and network defenses highly robust and constantly adaptable. By combining physical and cybersecurity, organizations gain a more comprehensive understanding of potential threats, allowing for quicker response times and more effective threat mitigation.

Physical security and cybersecurity integration also enhances protection of sensitive data. More specifically, the combination provides a comprehensive shield for confidential, personal, and sensitive data. As such, you greatly minimize the risk of breaches and unauthorized access. And even more, an integrated approach guarantees that both the physical and digital elements of your data security operation work hand-in-hand.

Another benefit is that integration provides the ability to increase your overall security posture. In turn, security becomes more resilient to ever-changing threat scenarios, allowing your security team to adapt to new challenges as they present themselves.

Some may feel overseeing both physical and cybersecurity can become a burden, with operational losses outweighing any of the aforementioned benefits. Quite the contrary. Interestingly, by continuously monitoring physical and digital security, your company can collect valuable data that will allow you to be more proactive when it comes to potential threats.

To be sure, integrating physical and cybersecurity delivers immense value to the organization. And while the integration may be perceived as complex, success is merely a matter of following best practices.

To begin, it’s essential to establish official communication channels and promote collaboration between everyone on both the physical and cybersecurity teams. By laying this groundwork, you ensure that both departments share a common vision for the project.

Also key is conducting regular risk assessments. We recommended that you undergo proactive measures to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities. In addition, these controls will ideally address all manner of physical and cybersecurity threats, which ultimately develops the foundation for a more comprehensive, system-wide security apparatus.

Last, be sure to prioritize ongoing security staff training and awareness programs. This can be monthly or quarterly, as long as there is consistency. Whatever your cadence, educating employees on security best practices is fundamental.

As far as specific lessons, stress the significance of the physical and cybersecurity integration. Make sure that all technical security personnel understand their role in the larger project. Doing so not only provides workers with practical knowledge, it empowers them to take ownership and instills a proactive mindset for preventing security incidents.

Without question, the world is increasingly being dominated by digital experiences. But safeguarding our digital life can’t come at the expense of forgetting about physical security. Organizations must protect both – and when they do, we’ll all be better off.