Security is security: CIOs must unify the physical and the virtual


Organizations often rely on different teams for physical security and cybersecurity, but increasingly organizations are turning to CIOs for overall security leadership and advice.

“You need someone at the top who has all the security,” said Anthony Leather, co-founder and director of Westlands Advisory, which advises organizations on complex business and security issues. “There is no longer a disconnect between physical security and cybersecurity. ”

In 2020, 52% of organizations had a combination of cybersecurity, physical security, and business continuity converged into one team. Benefits included:

● Align security and risk management with business objectives
● Advance physical and technological integration and security operations centers
● Improve efficiency
● Reduce costs

Yet less than 25% of organizations have merged their physics and cybersecurity departments, according to an ASIS study. In contrast, 42% of IT and security teams have developed partnerships, according to a Cisco study.

Hard to find
Aligning physical security and cybersecurity becomes increasingly important as the two disciplines merge. For example, physical security is embracing IP cameras and can do a lot more with analytics or machine learning, Leather said.

“Traditionally, reviewing images is a very laborious process,” he said.

It is also difficult to determine when the cameras are offline or unusable. Additionally, sharing images with law enforcement or other external organizations can be time consuming and expensive, as they often need to be reformatted.

As a result, some basic elements of computing are gaining ground. For example, cloud-based smart cameras with automatically updated firmware eliminate manual fixes and upgrades, a time-consuming and error-prone practice.

Additionally, digital access control solutions allow organizations to change permissions on the fly based on changing roles, responsibilities, or employee status.

For example, UK company Crediton Dairy replaced its old network video recording system with a wireless smart camera solution. The cameras’ motion search capabilities helped the dairy recover insurance money it would otherwise have lost when a delivery truck destroyed property, according to IT manager Benjamin Evans.

The dairy also wanted to protect workers and guests from damage, and its safety system ensured that everyone complied with guidelines regarding the use of personal protective equipment.

Check it out
Another example of physical security and cybersecurity merging is exemplified by the Miami-Dade Public Library System. It replaced network video recorders (NVRs) with cloud-based smart cameras. In addition to storing the images directly on the cameras and eliminating the need for NVRs (a decision that made camera deployment and ongoing maintenance so much simpler that the two-person IT team deployed the cameras without hiring a company outdoor), the images are easily shareable.

When a library was vandalized, the IT team used a motion search tool to quickly isolate the incident and export the footage to share with law enforcement.

A dashboard shows whether cameras are offline and allows IT staff to bring them back online before images run out.

Put together
Pooling the knowledge of physical security professionals with the expertise of networking and cybersecurity specialists creates an even stronger and more versatile team. Combined, the different areas of competence are strengthened.

As the lines between physical security and cybersecurity blur, an executive role should take responsibility for the organization’s overall security strategy. It makes sense for the CIO to have this oversight to ensure that security is at the center of the organization’s technological future.

With a visionary CIO at the helm, equally vital physical and cybersecurity teams can partner with an organizational vision where protecting people, places and things is more valuable than ever. In addition to the original charter to protect lives, property and data, these combined forces now have the mission and the capacity to create new opportunities for growth and profit, for their business and for themselves.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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