Remember Maxwell Smart walking down the corridor as the doors automatically opened and closed? Even Mel Brooks, the show's creator and a comic genius, understood the need for physical security, a major part of corporate information technology protection.
That show still makes me laugh. In reality, physical security is no laughing matter. When discussing physical security, most people think of locks, gates and guards. Physical security is much more. A good physical security plan protects clients, employees, and assets. The need for a good plan is evident just by watching the news. Criminals and crackpots never take a day off.
If physical security is not part of your security plan, you may want to consider adding it. Physical security in the workplace usually consists of three levels. The first is the outer perimeter. Sometimes the outer perimeter is obvious. It can be barriers, fences and guards. Sometimes, it's subtle. Have you ever seen those large, red, decorative, concrete balls outside of target? They are not there just for decoration.
Outer perimeter security is intended for one function: control who comes and goes around your property. When planning for the outer perimeter, it is important to realize that there are two types of outer perimeter security: (1) natural, which can utilize landscape and is much more esthetically pleasing and (2) territorial, which can rely on fencing, gates, signage and guards. Territorial usually is not as pretty to look at, but can be more intimidating.
The second level of physical security is the inner perimeter. As the name indicates, the inner perimeter is the area within the building that consists of doors, windows and walls. There are many ways to safeguard the inner perimeter, such as the use of locks, keys, alarms and proximity cards, to name a few. This second line of defense is intended to stop or slow down a perpetrator until authorities can arrive. If the bad guy gets in, it can lead to big trouble, and big costs in terms of theft, damage to equipment, and damage to reputation.
The last level to discuss is the interior security. This includes the interior or zones your company occupies within the building, and is your last line of defense. It can consist of cameras, alarms and other monitoring devices that can deter a criminal. In the event it can't, cameras can provide evidentiary information during an investigation or prosecution of a violator.
No level of physical security is more important than the other. They act together to create a layered defense against crime, natural and environmental threats, and manmade and politically motivated threats. This system is referred to as layered defense, or defense in depth.
So now that we've developed and implemented the plan, the organization is locked down tight, right? Wrong! The last element that is imperative to all physical security plans is a culture of security-minded behavior. Security-minded behavior simply means that employees know, understand and adhere to the physical security policies. If everyone in the organization practices good physical security, layered defense will not be circumvented. No matter how many resources you put toward physical security, if you have one employee that is not participating, the entire plan can be rendered useless. The success of all three tiers of physical security is dependent on the observant actions of employees in the work place.