The threat landscape evolves and shifts as workplaces and physical security operations continue to recover and adapt from the influences of the pandemic. In 2020, remote work made businesses more vulnerable to cyber security threats as more information was shared over email and video chat.
Now that workplaces have largely adopted a hybrid model, it’s harder to tell who should be allowed where and at what time. These new uncertainties are creating more challenges for security businesses, highlighting physical security vulnerabilities.
We can expect cyber and physical security threats and vulnerabilities to converge. Our various internet of things (IoT) devices will pose more of a threat to digital and physical security.
Why? Because workers can compromise both with the wrong moves at the wrong time. The right solutions involve both physical security and digital security for a more holistic approach.
Read more for the comprehensive list of physical security threats your organization needs to be aware of this year.
5 Threats Physical Security Operations Should be Aware of
1. Organizational Change Can’t Keep Up With Security Risks
As organizations continue evolving, they open themselves up to more physical security risks while still being exposed to existing ones. The only way to keep up with today’s top security threats — especially as they become more sophisticated — is to continue folding physical security into the everyday functions of the organization they support.
Physical security is no longer just a guard to nod to who does their rounds largely out of sight. Physical security professionals need to continue integrating into the organization more thoughtfully.
However, integrating physical security into different facets of siloed organizations can pose challenges. Barriers leave organizational cracks exposed and ripe for exploration.
Physical security teams need to have every department participate in an ongoing security program. That could mean involving employees to use their smart devices to gain entry to a facility or participating in cyber security tests. No matter the case, every department needs to be made aware of its specific vulnerabilities and participate in an active way.
2. Flexible Work Arrangements Make It Harder to Track Who’s On-Premise
We’re not all going back to the office as many had imagined in the early days of the pandemic. Many organizations have adopted a hybrid model.
This means that some employees are working in the office. When they choose to go into the office can be unpredictable. As a consequence, physical security teams struggle to keep track of who’s on the premise and who isn’t, leaving organizations more vulnerable to threats amidst the confusion.
Tools for tracking remote workers and on-site personnel can alleviate these uncertainties. Mobile guard software can give security business owners like yourself geolocation data on guard routes while remote work software can help you determine who’s at home.
Mobile-first access control can also let your security team know who is in the building. This is because those using mobile-first access control have gained access to the space by verifying their I.D. with a smart device.
For all these systems to work in conjunction with each other, they need to operate on cloud-compatible devices. According to a survey conducted by Gentec, 66% of organizations are planning on moving the management of physical security to the cloud. This move will enable your organization to access key security information from anywhere and at any time.
Ensure that every business that uses your security service, upgrades legacy equipment, from the door locking system to the lights, with IoT technology. This will give your security team a more complete picture of how secure an organization is at any time. According to Gentec, 67% of organizations are planning to invest in access control modernization, which can make your job just a little bit easier.
3. Cyber Attacks Are Taking Advantage of Connected Physical and Digital Devices
The threat landscape continues to expand as the number of connected devices increases. Individuals from your clients' organizations can be targeted on many different devices with a variety of tactics, including phishing scams, malware, ransomware, and social engineering. The ultimate aim of these attacks is to steal sensitive information that can cost those impacted exponentially.
At IFSEC Global 2022, 40% of respondents said their top challenge was protecting against cyber security threats.
But it's not just information that’s at risk. Cyber attacks can compromise physical security as well. When information is stolen, it may include details that allow an attacker to enter your clients’ premises more easily. This compromises the safety of your physical security staff and the value of any physical hardware on location.
The solution? Bring together cyber security and physical security operations. Each of the two branches of security has holes that can only be filled by the other branch. Make sure the organizations you work for educate their employees on the importance of cybersecurity along with relevant physical security protocols. Perfecting an organization-wide understanding of cyber attacks is only helpful if criminals aren’t able to walk in the front door and steal laptops and servers containing sensitive information. Robust physical security programs are so necessary and need comprehensive analytics that shows where physical vulnerabilities are.
You should also recommend a zero-trust program to your clients that requires all users with access to your systems to be authenticated and you need everyone on the physical premises to be authenticated upon entry. As a physical security provider, you can help your clients blend IT with digitized physical security. As a result, your clients should be able to verify that every person who has remote and physical access to your organization, has the correct authorization. By combining the data and analytics coming in from IT and physical security, your clients should have a complete picture of their threat landscape, and the accurate status of their organization.
From these efforts, organizations can expect to improve their bottom line by avoiding the costly consequences of data breaches and physical theft. That translates to big dollars for physical security companies. And many agree - according to a Microsoft Accenture survey, 75% of respondents believed that the digital transformation of physical security will generate a meaningful ROI.
4. Labor Shortages Make Adequate Staffing Difficult
Although exacerbated by the pandemic, the security industry has long struggled with employee turnover and labor shortages. According to Genetec, 50% of survey respondents said their physical security team experienced human resources-specific challenges in the past year.
Understaffing makes the problem even worse, leading to burnout and low morale, which in turn leads to high turnover.
To avoid these serious labor issues, security firms need to utilize a unified security solution that integrates HR management software into their guard management suite (if they have it). Features like robust scheduling software can help managers quickly spot when security professionals are being overworked. Overtime hours will be highlighted, making it clear when more guards are needed.
Talent management software can assist in finding the right physical security professionals. How? By streamlining the job posting process while at the same time zeroing in on prospects that are more likely to thrive in open roles.
The manual labor that goes into finding the right physical security professionals is immense. Getting the right HR management software will dramatically lighten this workload, making adequate staffing that much easier.
5. Increased Crime Rates Due to Economic Uncertainty
It’s no secret that economic downturns coincide with increases in theft, robbery, and burglary. With continued economic uncertainty on the horizon, physical security operations need to be prepared for such a possibility.
In a survey from Pro-Vigil, 28% of respondents saw an increase in physical security incidents in 2022 and 39% believe the state of the economy is behind rising security incidents. A staggering 91% think that physical security incidents will either rise or stay the same in 2023.
In addition to smaller crimes, economic downturn also causes an increase in career criminals, which leads to more sophisticated crime and heightened business risk.
One way to address this upcoming physical security trend is to invest in technological solutions. As mentioned previously, advanced access control ensures that only authorized users have access to an organization’s resources. Organizations need to utilize their physical security services to the fullest by integrating security teams meaningfully into their organization. It’s the only way to ensure that advanced access control successfully combats threats. Meanwhile, video surveillance can help fill in the gaps between guard tours to avoid theft.
Many AI and machine learning technologies can help make physical and cyber security software recommendations. They typically take advantage of data accrued from daily operations to make smart suggestions that will mitigate physical security threats and avoid redundancies.
Security teams hoping to avoid painful cuts may want to make sure they’re already getting the most out of their budgets. Most businesses will be looking almost everywhere for places to reduce costs during a recession and that could include physical security - despite the heightened physical security risks.
The Changing Threat Landscape
Caught between a pandemic and a recession, security operations have their work cut out for them. Labor shortages and potential budget scrutiny will cause the unprepared to flounder in the years to come.
Security needs to continually adapt to this changing threat landscape. To do this they’ll need to assist organizations in achieving comprehensive situational awareness. They’ll also have to focus on de-escalation to prevent threats from causing more damage than necessary.
Those who manage to converge physical and cyber security with smart software and tech will be able to close the gaps and justify their budget. They’ll be able to demonstrate a meaningful ROI while keeping organizations more secure than ever.
Firms need up-to-date strategies to face today’s top 5 security threats. Learn more by signing up for our webinar on de-escalation strategies for your security business.