Preventing Cybersecurity Threats with Physical Security Entrances

Cyber security and physical security convergence is a hot topic amongst today’s security professionals and rightfully so. One cannot exist without the other, as the Colonial Pipeline and Florida Water Authority incidents have exemplified. However, while these examples highlight how poor cyber-hygiene has an impact on our physical spaces, it is important to recognize the same is true of the inverse.

Poor physical security has a direct impact on cybersecurity, perhaps more than today’s organizations realize.

Most organizations are keenly aware of modern cybersecurity threats and invest heavily in their prevention via firewalls, virtual networks, encrypted communications and 2-factor logins. Yet these protections alone are not enough to keep data safe from hackers.

Dollars and Cyber Sense
As attention and budgets shift toward cybersecurity, it becomes easier for hackers to bypass cybersecurity protections all together and target the path of least resistance – right through the organization’s front door.

Once inside, hackers and cyber criminals have a plethora of attack surfaces at their disposal. An unattended computer could be the target of a “warshipping,” a Trojan horse strategy that involves using a physical device to upload malware or access sensitive data. Or an unassuming IoT-connected device used by hackers as an entry point to the network. It could even be as simple as an unauthorized individual walking out with a laptop or storage device in hand.

The fact is, even the slightest possibility of unauthorized physical entry opens the door, literally and metaphorically, to a cybersecurity breach. To keep data safe, organizations must therefore implement a physical security strategy that deters, detects and prevents unauthorized entry. A strategy only secured entry solutions provide.

Security entrances offer a unique level of protection that go beyond what conventional security solutions provide. Take access control devices, security guards, and surveillance systems for example. It is reasonable to believe that by deploying such systems facilities are protected from unauthorized entry.

However, these systems are reactionary in nature, and each come with their own security vulnerabilities. Access control systems can detect tailgating and piggybacking events but are only able to alert to such events after the fact. Given that a cyber-physical attack can occur within seconds, a simple detection strategy is not enough.

Deter and Detect
Surveillance systems similarly provide deter and detect functions but cannot actively prevent unauthorized entry. Other common approaches for data thieves include talking their way past security guards, coercing innocent employees into granting unauthorized entry and using stolen credentials to gain access.

Secured entry solutions are perhaps the only physical security solution inherently immune to such tactics. They cannot be compromised in the way that a security guard can through social engineering and cannot be forced or tricked into granting access. When integrated with biometric access control systems, they can also verify the identity of every individual entering a facility without the use of physical credentials.

Perhaps most importantly, specialized security entrances embedded with anti-tailgating systems are able to actively prevent unauthorized entry without the need for oversight.

Sophisticated Technologies
Using sophisticated sensor technologies, interlocking mantrap portals and security revolving doors prevent tailgating and piggybacking by confirming single entry. A combination of optical and near-infrared sensors measures the time it takes light to travel from the overhead system to an object in the compartment and back. In doing so, these sensors can accurately tell the difference between two people entering at the same time vs. one person entering alone, thus preventing unauthorized entry before it occurs.

These preventative solutions represent the highest level of security offered by security entrances and are ideal for controlling access to highly secured areas such as server rooms.

Beyond server rooms and telecom closets, organizations can dramatically reduce or eliminate additional cyber-physical threats by layering security entrances at entry and exit points at the perimeter of a facility and at other critical internal access points.

For example, full height turnstiles installed at a building’s perimeter serve as a deterrent against casual attempts to gain unauthorized access. Optical turnstiles are also ideal for corporate lobbies where it is essential to balance security while making visitors feel welcome. While these solutions do not actively prevent unauthorized entry, when an attempted intrusion is detected, they raise an immediate alarm that can be managed by nearby security staff.

As cyber-physical threats become more prevalent and materially impactful, it is important to have a clear view of the integrated risk environment, combined with a coordinated process for deterring, detecting and preventing threats. Layering various security entrances provides organizations with a high-tech security gauntlet that is difficult for any cyber-physical security offender to overcome. They are the manifestation of true convergence existing in the physical world.


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