IT’s rising role in physical security technology

As the adoption of cloud-based and mobile-access security systems continues to increase among both new and established businesses, the lines between traditional physical security personnel and IT staff are beginning to blur.

Traditionally, the common approach towards organizational security has always been to operate physical and cybersecurity systems as separate (though tangentially related) pursuits, siloing each collection of devices and policies in an effort to reduce the risk of sophisticated cross-platform cyberattacks.

physical security technology

In the modern world, however, it’s become increasingly likely that virtual systems and IT-adjacent technologies are utilized to manage and control installed physical security devices, meaning that an effective and safe security system must be designed with input from both physical security and IT teams.

The rise of cloud-based security management

One of the most common reasons businesses are moving to converged security policies is improved efficiency by introducing IoT devices capable of managing and monitoring essential building management systems and installed security networks. Integrated IoT sensors, alarms, surveillance cameras and access systems can be used to provide a more holistic view of an organization’s physical security defenses, though only if the network is intelligently designed and easily monitored — and the cloud offers both benefits and challenges for this type of implementation.

Despite the advantages presented by a converged physical and cybersecurity system that can be viewed and adjusted at any time from a remote position, there are potential risks associated with cloud and convergence policies. In fact, 86% of organizations agree that migrating systems and applications can be “complex and costly,” adding to the challenges of cloud adoption.

Often, these issues can be attributed to poor communication between physical security staff and IT teams. For example, in a newly converged cloud-based security system, IT staff may attempt to access and adjust physical security hardware in line with their own set of internal policies, accidentally exposing exploits or vulnerabilities that were previously covered only by physical security protocols. Therefore, successful security convergence and cloud migration requires a nuanced approach, with collaboration and communication across multiple stakeholders and key touchpoints.

IT’s influence on physical security systems

So, how can modern organizations look to develop more effective converged security protections? In short, businesses should get their IT teams involved in decision-making and implementation of physical security systems.

Reports suggest that 97% of IT leaders are concerned about data breaches in their organizations, causing many companies to focus their efforts on cybersecurity, though by converging the design and operation of cyber and physical security policies both aspects can be reliably strengthened.

If the divide between physical and cybersecurity systems is to be reduced or entirely removed, IT departments must be offered more control over the evaluation, purchase and management of all physical security technology to ensure that these devices are suitable for cloud and mobile support.

The determining factors that enable a piece of physical security hardware to integrate effectively with a sophisticated cloud-based management system may not be suitably understood by physical security teams alone. IT professionals can help vet and assess proposed hardware integrations to ensure that each device is free from vulnerabilities that may expose converged systems to cyber threats once connected to the local network.

Another reason to involve IT is that they may be aware of important considerations often overlooked by the security or property management teams. While security teams may value aspects such as usability, manufacturing quality and convenience as high on their list of priorities, IT staff will be tasked with ensuring that the technical specifications of all hardware devices allow for the necessary cybersecurity protections, as this will help to prevent the possibility of the entire security network becoming easily compromised.

Finding balance in converged security development

Of course, improving the way that businesses approach physical and cybersecurity convergence will require much more than simply handing over all control to cybersecurity experts. Though the decision-making process will involve more people and may take longer, this collaborative approach helps to ensure that installed hardware devices are best-suited to business needs, regulatory standards or interoperable with newly implemented mobile and cloud-based systems.

However, IT teams shouldn’t ignore the needs of other team members, either. When developing any form of converged mobile or cloud-based security network, IT teams must remember that in-person facilities, security and real estate personnel will be required to operate and adjust these systems effectively if they’re to continue performing their duties to a desirable standard.

In other words, no matter how much time and effort has been spent by IT staff sourcing and designing an impenetrable collection of interconnected security devices, if the resulting installation cannot be easily understood and operated by on-site personnel, physical security exploits are bound to occur.

This is why it’s crucial that physical security and IT teams make a concerted effort to find a suitable balance of internal collaboration when designing converged cloud-based security systems. Utilizing checklists and detailed project plans ensures that purchasing and implementation decisions are only finalized once both departments are satisfied that the system will meet their needs.

Ultimately, organizations must understand that to make the most appropriate use of cloud-based and mobile technology, they’ll be required to adapt their approach to security management. Siloed security policies and protocols are not conducive to an effective, integrated business security system. The key to finding balance is collaboration from the outset. With policies and procedures already outlined, the evaluation, purchasing and management of physical security technology for converged and cloud-based environments is smoother and more efficient, without compromising on security.

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