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Strengthen physical security to protect against cyberattacks

GUEST REVIEW by George Moawad, Country Manager – ANZ, Genetec: As the world has become increasingly interconnected through the shift to cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cybercrime has steadily increased , as well as the tools to fight it. However, geopolitical tensions between countries have the potential to quickly trigger devastating cyberattacks around the world, heightening the need to be cyber-aware.

As conflicts continue and geopolitical tensions increase, public and private sector organizations need to be extremely vigilant and on heightened alert to malicious cyber activity targeting their networks. Borders do not exist in cyberspace and once deployed, malware can infect vulnerable systems around the world.

It may seem ironic that a physical security solution designed to protect people and property can provide an entry point for cybercriminals. But as these systems (CCTV, access control, alarms, communications, etc.) are increasingly connected to a range of IoT devices, networks and computing infrastructure, they can be quite vulnerable.

While security teams are regularly on alert to ward off attacks aimed at remotely shutting down a camera’s video feed, opening or locking a door, or disrupting critical building systems, most cyberattacks are not aimed at compromising security. physical security of persons or property. Instead, these attacks target applications, files, and data managed by IT. An attack from a camera can work its way through the network to block access to critical applications; lock and hold files for ransom; and steal personal data.

Fill gaps

To determine the cyber risk of physical security systems, organizations should do a posture check-up, creating and maintaining an inventory of all devices connected to the network and their connectivity, firmware version and configuration. As part of the assessment, they must identify models and manufacturers of concern. They must also document all users with knowledge of security devices and systems.

The review can identify devices and systems that need to be replaced. When developing a replacement program, organizations should prioritize strategies that support modernization. An effective approach is to unify physical security and cybersecurity appliances and software on a single open architecture platform with centralized management tools and views.

Also, even though it is a larger undertaking, it is strongly recommended that organizations bring together cybersecurity and physical security teams to work collaboratively and proactively, so that they can develop a comprehensive security program based on a common understanding of risks, responsibilities, strategies and practices.

Ongoing Best Practices

With secure devices and protocols in place, organizations should follow best practices to keep physical security systems secure.

Security monitoring. Ensure that all physical security devices connected to the network are monitored and managed by IT network and security management tools. Also check the Video Management System (VMS) and Access Control System (ACS) features that provide alerts or data for use by computer network and security monitoring tools.

Protective measures. Use secure protocols to connect devices to the network. Disable access methods that support a low level of security protection and continuously review security feature and alert configurations. Of course, replace the default passwords with new ones that are changed regularly.

Encryption. End-to-end encryption provides the most security to protect video streams and data as they travel from the physical security device to a management system for viewing. Also ensure that encryption protects these files and data while in storage.

Access the defenses. Harden user and device access security with a multi-layered policy that includes multi-factor access authentication and defined user permissions.

Software Updates. One management function that can be overlooked when cybersecurity and physical security teams are separated is the installation of software updates and patches. Define who is responsible for maintaining the availability of updates and who verifies, deploys and documents updates on all devices and systems.

Supply Chain. Make sure that all hardware and software vendors for your physical security systems – including component manufacturers within OEM solutions – consider cybersecurity in the development of their solutions, right from the design phase. They must communicate in complete transparency about their possible vulnerabilities, do everything possible to remedy them and assume their responsibilities in the event of a breach.

Zero risk does not exist in cybersecurity. By recognizing that the physical and cyber domains are interdependent, applying best practices, and implementing systematic cyber hygiene policies, organizations can significantly reduce risk and strengthen security, even as cyber threats become more sophisticated. and targeted amid global political unrest.

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