Defending Against Physical Penetrations

You might assume that protecting a company’s informational assets from a physical intrusion is covered under its existing security measures, but often that’s simply not the case. Understandably, these same assets must be available to the employees so that they can perform their work. All an attacker has to do to obtain physical access to the data network infrastructure is to look convincingly like an employee or like they belong in the building for another reason. With physical access, it is much easier to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.

In order to successfully defend against a physical penetration, the target company must educate its employees about the threat and train them how best to deal with it. Data thefts often are not reported because the victim companies seek to avoid bad press, in which cases the full extent of the threat is not experienced by the people handling the data. In addition, employees often don’t understand the street value of the data they handle. The combination of hidden threat and unperceived value makes training in this area critically important for a successful policy and procedure program.

Perhaps the single most effective policy to ensure that an intruder is noticed is one that requires employees to report or inquire about someone they don’t recognize. Even employees at very large corporations encounter a regular group of people on a daily basis. If a policy of inquiring about unfamiliar faces can be implemented, even if they have a badge, it will make a successful intrusion much more difficult. This is not to say that an employee should directly confront a person who is unfamiliar to them, as they may actually be a dangerous intruder. That’s the job of the company’s security department. Rather, employees should ask their direct supervisor about the person.

Other measures that can help mitigate physical intrusions include the following:
• Key card turnstiles
• Manned photo ID checkpoints
• Enclosed or fenced smoking areas
• Locked loading area doors, equipped with doorbells for deliveries
• Mandatory key swipe on entry/re-entry
• Rotation of visitor badge markings daily
• Manned security camera systems