Why Physical Security and Cybersecurity Must Work Together

by | Mar 29, 2022 | Blog, Executive Shield

As more and more aspects of business move into the digital world, the internet provides many conveniences and opportunities to increase productivity. But there are vulnerabilities to consider. Most enterprises understand the importance of cybersecurity and physical security, but many still fail to look at the relationships between the two disciplines to optimize efficiency and strength.

Cyber and physical security teams are less effective when siloed. Staying up to date in both cybersecurity and physical security strategies, and addressing both in context, is vital to protecting your enterprise. When businesses align and correlate both types of security, security threats are more efficiently prevented and combatted.

How Does Physical Security Impact Cybersecurity?

There are at least four ways in which physical security and cybersecurity can impact one another. All are crucial to optimizing overall security:

  1. Hackers Gaining Entry to Secure Locations: When physical security isn’t properly maintained, it can be one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your confidential servers. All that they need to tap into your IP connection is an open door and a laptop.
  2. Hackers Leveraging Proximity to Gain Local Access: For example, a hacker could use an unsecured guest WiFi connection to steal employee credentials that would allow them to walk right through the front door.
  3. Hackers Using Security Tools Against You: Security cameras, WiFi locks, alarm systems, and password keypads can enable attacks when they are connected to an unsecured WiFi connection. Hackers can use these points to gain access to your network or leave harmful malware to damage your people, property, and infrastructure.
  4. Hackers Leveraging Insider Information: The abuse of internal information can take multiple forms, but one of the scariest is when that internal information is sensitive. For instance, physical threats that can be facilitated by knowing the travel plans of the CEO. Or, the dangers of hostile boycotts and strikes against companies. Or, creating dangerous physical environments in preparation for future acquisitions or physical property developments within other hostile geographic areas.

The overlap between cyber and physical security is significant. Cooperation and information sharing between the two disciplines are essential for effective defense and preparedness.

How Can Physical Security and Cybersecurity Work Together?

Physical security acts as the first point of engagement by limiting who has access to the areas where data is stored. This includes the setup and maintenance of security cameras and round-the-clock physical protection from security guards. Physical security is also personal security. Defending and being situationally aware of the activities of your executive team is essential to protecting them and their families.

When it comes to the cyber world, using the information that can be found on both the surface and the dark web, in addition to information exchanged within closed forums and social channels, can help bolster defenses. It’s not just about biometrics, passwords, and secure WiFi. Physical security, executive protection, and cybersecurity are more effective when they share relevant, timely, and actionable information from multiple sources.

Physical Security Checklist for How to Prevent Physical Breaches

  1. Protect Against Dumpster Diving: Sifting through the trash is a legal and effective method of retrieving sensitive information about an organization. Ensure that employees are aware of the importance of shredding important documents before disposing of them.
  2. Control Site Access: Control who has access to your building. Be aware of who has access and what they can access. Limit accessibility based on need. If someone doesn’t need access to a secure area, then they shouldn’t be able to get there.
  3. Secure Guest WiFi: Though allowing access to a guest network is safer than allowing access to your main network, it is not a guarantee of safety. Sophisticated threat actors will find a way to penetrate and exploit these defenses. Avoid this by segmenting networks and limiting what guests can access. Change all default passwords on devices connected to your networks and encrypt wireless signals.
  4. Lock Up Servers: Ensure that server rooms are locked as tightly as the front doors of your enterprise. Server rooms, including those that hold backup data, should be difficult to access. Biometric measures such as fingerprint or facial recognition can be used to ensure security.
  5. Secure Physical Backups: Everyone knows the importance of backing up company files and data. But what happens to those physical backups once they are saved? Multiple copies should be stored with as much care as any other piece of confidential data.
  6. Keep Building Security Measures Current: Consider installing biometric entry points or turnstiles in your building and then limit the number of authorized users as much as possible. Regular third-party penetration testing on both cyber and physical entry points is also recommended to pinpoint potential security weaknesses.
  7. Know What’s Happening on the Internet: Work with threat intelligence teams to determine whether there are imminent threats against your people, property, and company assets.

If a threat actor is determined to harm your organization, they will stop at nothing to gain access to information. For your business to be as secure as possible, consider the double barrier of protection provided when physical and cyber security work hand in hand.

About Nisos®

Nisos is The Managed Intelligence Company®. Our services enable security, intelligence, and trust and safety teams to leverage a world-class intelligence capability tailored to their needs. We fuse robust data collection with a deep understanding of the adversarial mindset delivering smarter defense and more effective response against advanced cyber attacks, disinformation, and abuse of digital platforms.