The Evolution of Physical Security Systems

New Zealand Security Magazine - Update

Genetec has recently released its State of Physical Security Report. Image supplied.

By strengthening their physical security systems, organisations can better adapt to uncertainty and enhance their business operations, writes George Moawad, Country Manager ANZ at Genetec.

As organisations have adapted to new working conditions and to changing priorities since the start of the pandemic, they have also started to closely review how data gathered from their physical security systems can optimise, protect, and enhance their business operations in unique ways.

Larger organisations especially are seeing value in the data gathered by their physical security systems, with more than 46% saying they use their security systems to improve overall business efficiency, productivity, and asset optimisation.

It is not surprising then to see why physical security has evolved from the days when it was deployed as a reactionary measure to fight crime and it’s now central to business digital transformation plans, with unified security platforms helping unlock value from the data gathered across physical security systems, allowing organisations to proactively address unforeseen events and unfolding challenges. 

As we emerge from the pandemic, organisations are also contending with significant new undercurrents around changes to the physical dimension of work and a corresponding need to achieve operational resilience through integrated risk management.   

Although this is not the only challenge they are facing.

While managing hybrid workplaces is top of mind, the recently released Genetec’s State of Physical Security Report found organisations are also focused on addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities, adopting cloud-based solutions and driving enterprise transformation by integrating key insights gathered from their physical security systems’ data.

Genetec’s State of Physical Security Report.

Investing in physical security to address cybercrime

In the early days of the pandemic, managing employee and visitor safety were the top priorities, but this year’s report found, not surprisingly, that cybersecurity has now taken over as the number one challenge to address and invest resources in, while visitor management dropped to fifth position. 

One of the key reasons for this shift in focus is the rapid increase in the number of employees working remotely, specifically physical operations staff. More than 25% of physical security options staff are now set up to work remotely which, whilst offering considerable advantages, also unlocks increases in cybercrime potential.  

As a result, respondents have re-prioritised budgets, with 36% of respondents increasing their investment in cybersecurity related tools for physical security and 49% planning to invest in video analytics. More than half of the State of Physical Security Report respondents noted they will at least maintain or increase their investment in physical security between 10% and 50%

Driving cloud adoption

While most physical security deployments still remain on-premises thanks to cybersecurity concerns, 35% of respondents in Genetec’s report noted the pandemic had either triggered or accelerated their physical security cloud strategy in the last 12 months.  

All signs suggest the trend toward the cloud is set to continue, with 47% of companies who have currently less than half their physical security environment deployed to the cloud, indicating they plan to further deploy their security solution to the cloud.  

Moving physical security environments to the cloud or hybrid cloud offers significant benefits including the ability to enable remote monitoring and functionality across video and camera control, recording management, system health maintenance and applying firmware updates and software patches. For example, the adoption of cloud-based video analytics in particular has now become the newest trend in physical security, with 49% of organisations looking to invest in it.

No matter the installation objective or size, organisations can minimise system maintenance and costs, while enhancing their cyber resilience using cloud solutions, enjoying a shared responsibility for security between the cloud provider and organisation. 

Physical security systems drive enterprise transformation

By adapting quickly and using security technology to solve problems, physical security departments have proven that they play a mission-critical role in the digital transformation of organisational processes and in addressing new challenges for their organisations.

Having sufficient data management and structure is key to unlocking additional value from data gathered across physical security systems, and larger organisations intend to invest in data management solutions to advance or improve the functionality of their physical security environment in the next year. 

91% of respondents now report running both video surveillance and access control in their physical security deployments, allowing them to handle visitor management solutions, capacity management and remote access. 

Additionally, exploring how physical security and IT departments can work together as a unified team to develop a coordinated strategy for hardening systems based on a common understanding of risk, responsibilities, strategies, and practices will be critical to improve security monitoring across all network-connected physical security devices, strengthen protection measures for these devices, implement encryption on video streams and data, enhance access defences with multifactor access authentication and improve updates management.

By strengthening their physical security infrastructure and aligning it with data and privacy protection policies, and in that investing in a unified physical security solution deployed through cloud-enabled services, organisations can take a strong step towards adapting to their uncertain future, as well as optimise and enhance business operations into the future.