What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words securing the data? Surely, you may think of the words like vulnerability scanning, firewall security or encryption. But have you ever given a thought to words like sign-in sheets, locked doors or security badges?
Most of the organizations don’t ever think of how physical security can help to protect their workplace against threats. They do not realize that gaining access to important information doesn’t always involve a computer.
So first let’s understand what Physical Security is.
In simple words, physical security means protection of the data, personnel, software, hardware, and networks from physical activities that can cause massive damage or loss to an organization, institution or an agency. This incorporates protection against vandalism, natural disasters, flood, fire, theft, and terrorism.
In this post, we’ll discuss some tips on how physical security awareness can help both employers and employees to keep social engineers and hackers away from gaining access to crucial data.
Here are a few physical security awareness tips:
It is very crucial for security managers to decrease the daily manual mechanism of access control and physical security. Fully automated security procedures are more powerful and reliable than the manual ones.
One of the most effective ways of ensuring workplace security is to control who gets in or out. Investing in access control cards and going beyond traditional lock and key system offers various advantages: For instance, access control cards are way more advanced and are much harder to duplicate. Also, if you need to remove access from a particular person, you don’t have to give new entry codes or change locks — all you need to do is change the database and everyone else in the workplace can continue using their cards as before.
Data controls, all access controls, and administrative controls should be properly driven by innovative and modern technologies to make the workplace secure. Remember, technology doesn’t mislead or cheat, it’s transparent and can always be relied on.
Monitoring the current workplace security policies, systems, procedures, and the outcome regularly is vital for every organization. It is one of the best tips to maintain physical security in the workplace. Do not skip the defined mechanism to monitor the security of a workplace.
Employee training is a must to maintain physical security in the workplace. Employees need to create a security mindset in order to protect the facility and take control of their safety. Training courses help employees to develop a better understanding of the potential threats they may encounter on a daily basis and how they should respond to such threats.
The security upgrades that you make today might not be effective in a few years. So, to avoid threats, make sure to have physical security assessment on a yearly basis from a security professional.
A security professional can identify changes in the environment and helps to update technology and practices, which are needed to make alterations in the existing physical security measures.
Check out our guide to creating a Physical Security Standards Matrix: Workplace Physical Security Controls
Creating an emergency plan prepares an organization to face an active threat or a disaster. An emergency plan conveys the action to be taken during an emergency, like who will make the emergency announcement, and where should everyone go once they leave the building. Additionally, employees should also know the steps to be taken if they cannot exit the building during an emergency.
Having an emergency plan helps to ensure the safety of employees when their lives are threatened. Providing a training course on first aid and CPR could also save lives after an incident takes place at the workplace. An emergency escape plan must be included in the employee security training program.
An organization’s employee guidelines should incorporate strict and strong policies related to common problems resulting in workplace violence. Forbidding alcohol or drugs, banning the use of weapons in a workplace, and having guidelines for bullying and harassment should be clearly conveyed to all the employees. Implementing these policies can help to eliminate many problems in a workplace that leads to violence.
Many organizations worry about outsiders coming in and attacking their employees, but they forget to pay attention to the fact that most of the workplace incidents take place due to an unstable or a dissatisfied employee.
A security professional should focus on recognizing and reporting insider threats, and the staff must be encouraged to report about a concerning behavior or a violent action. Most significantly, management should investigate further on such reports, taking help from law enforcement, therapists or risk management experts.
The employee might have left the organization in the best possible situation. However, you should remove their user account to avoid risking your company’s crucial data.
Adding a photo on an employee’s ID card not only makes them feel valuable but also makes them easily recognizable as an important part of the company. Photo identity acts as a visual identification, that enables to keep a check on visitors who shouldn’t be inside the building. This ensures physical security of an organization.
12. Use an Updated Firewall
Your organization should have physical walls that are fire retardant, but this tip talks specifically about cybersecurity. It is vital to make sure that the computing firewall is updated and working smoothly on computer systems as it protects against malicious malware and viruses.
A workplace should be protected from fire through an automatic and proper fire-fighting system. If fire emergencies are implemented, employees should be trained to use protective gears or gas masks. A fire extinguisher should be always available if a fire emergency takes place.
Network security has become crucial especially after looking at the recent high-profile hacks. Putting into effect strict security measures such as security from the cloud, strong passwords, and multi-step authentication helps to minimize threats to the workplace.
Social engineering is one of the smooth ways to hack something or someone. A social engineer is good at psychologically manipulating someone to disclose essential information or carry out a particular task. Hence, it’s important to verify credibility before revealing sensitive details about your work to anyone.
To maintain physical security at a workplace there should be a proper system to know who goes in and out and when. Keeping a log book for logging in and out is a traditional way to achieve this, but it comes with a lot of drawbacks. A person who doesn’t have good intent will easily pass through it.
A much better solution than maintaining a log book is an authentication system set up into locking devices, this will require a biometric scan, token or a smart card to unlock the doors and it also records the identity of a person who opens the door.
Also, setting up a video surveillance camera helps to get a good view of people leaving and entering and can be a great addition to electronic access or a log book.
To protect the employees from workplace violence it’s essential to protect the building from outside in. And for that various factors need to be considered for the kind of exterior security a workplace needs, like the assets you have, the kind of business you own, and the crime level in the area.
The security measures that an organization should take to protect the workplace from outside in includes: fencing the exterior, license plate readers, security cameras with motion detectors, call boxes for an emergency, and security guards. Also, simple things like getting better outdoor lighting or installation of signage saying that “you are under constant surveillance” could help you keep out of risks. Securing the premises of a facility is the first thing that companies must consider.
Be it any electronic device, a smartphone or a personal computer that contains our personal information — if it gets in wrong hands it will destroy us. So, always make it a habit to not leave the electronic devices anywhere unattended or unlocked.
Password management should be every organization’s top priority. Generating, setting, storing, maintaining, and updating passwords regularly is a task that should be carried out at a personal and organizational level.
Computers and mobile phones should have anti-virus software installed. It is also of prime importance to keep the anti-virus applications updated. If you do not have the application installed, then your devices might be at risk.
Before you shut down the servers you need to ensure that server room doors are locked properly with a good lock. Of course, it's not just about a robust door lock, you also need to have policies that require the server room door to be locked anytime it is unoccupied. And the policies should also mention who should have access to key code or key to get inside the server room.
Remember, that the server room is a major part of an organization and anybody who has physical access to the cables, servers, routers, devices, and switches in that room can also conduct huge damage.
A server is not the only thing you need to worry about. Remember, a hacker can log into a computer using a sniffer software to steal information moving across the network. To avoid this issue, make sure that all the devices are locked in a protected area of a facility.
Security awareness is something that you cannot get enough of. So, if there is a physical security awareness seminar happening in your facility or somewhere nearby then you should definitely attend it to get the most out of it. This will help you to gather some more knowledge and implement it at your workplace.
Before you discard papers that includes important information, shred them into pieces that are useless. You can never tell if somebody wants to get that sensitive information even after you discarded them and utilize it for illegal work.
From time to time you need to create backups of smartphones and computers to ensure physical security. Don’t ever tell yourself that you don’t need a backup as accidents and disasters can happen to anybody.
Most of the businesses deal with emails on a regular basis. Always be extra careful before clicking on links and attachments because even though the emails might look genuine, there is a huge possibility that they are not. One great tip is to not open any email unless you are sure about it. And of course, a good antivirus application installed makes the office environment much safer.
Handheld computers and laptops can lead to physical security threats. Someone can steal the entire laptop including the login passwords and the data stored in the disk. So, if any employee is using a laptop at the workplace, they should either take it with them or secure it with a cable lock.
Handhelds can either be kept in a safe or locked in a drawer. Also, you carry them with yourself when you leave the area.
Most of the organizations use mobile devices for their transactions. This process is very convenient but might bring along some security concerns. Devices like servers, laptops, etc. are stolen due to data breaches. Always make sure that you have a recorded inventory of devices that can either connect or carry card data. Every company should know who has these devices, where they are, and whether someone can leave the workplace environment with them. Also, the storage of card data should be encrypted.
With inventory, you can track all your devices. And if someone walks out with it, the inventory helps to immediately find when it happened, who has robbed the devices, how much data has been stolen, and what actions can be implemented further.
Backing up essential data helps in disaster recovery, but it’s also important to keep in mind that the information backed up on the disks or tapes might get stolen and can be used by an intruder. Such backups can either be stored in a server room or locked in a safe or a drawer.
It’s ideal for keeping the backup in an off-site location to ensure they are secured. There should be policies at workplaces that require back up to be kept locked at all times.
If you don’t want anyone to copy the organization’s data to removable media like DVDs, disks or CDs, then you can disable external drives, floppy drives or USB ports. By simply removing the cables might not stop tech-savvy people. Some companies even fill their ports with substance like glue to prevent its use permanently. One of the best ways to protect your data is to insert disk lock in drives.
You may never think about printers being vulnerable and constituting a security risk, but today most of the printers store the content of documents in its onboard memories. If an intruder takes away the printer and gains that memory, then he/she even can make copies of the stored data. Hence, printers should always be located in a secure and safe location.
Hackers have the ability to access any unprotected computer connected to a network and remove data that is important for your organization. Unoccupied workstation or the desk of a receptionist are particularly unsafe because intruders have an easy access to them.
Therefore, disable computers that are not being used or properly lock the doors of the facility, especially when an employee is on leave or at lunch. Fit computers with biometric readers or smart card so that it becomes difficult for outsiders to log in.
A secure workplace should have doors that are lockable, solid, fireproof, and accessible by the security staff. A secure door should never be easily opened. Also, a secure room should not have extremely large windows and all of them must have a robust locking system.
If you follow the above mentioned physical security awareness tips, you can undoubtedly avoid big losses that can be experienced due to accidents, theft or damage at a workplace. Always remember that network security begins at the physical level. An intruder who is wanting to gain physical access to computers and your network can never be stopped by firewall security. So, lockup and even lockdown.
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