Physical access control is a significant piece of any organization’s security puzzle. While digital security protects information that can damage a company’s reputation or finances, physical security prevents stock theft, equipment damage, and entry to dangerous sites.
This is achieved with systems that translate authorization guidelines into verification that locks and unlocks doors or barriers. The result is a system that offers several benefits, including:
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A crucial security element is creating physical barriers to limit access to sites, facilities, and materials. A well-designed policy should consider everything from gate and turnstile systems to fences, walls, and additional locks. These systems can help mitigate the risk of unauthorized access by acting as a deterrent, increasing visibility, and limiting who can access assets or equipment in case of theft or vandalism.
An advanced physical access control system can also help log who enters and exits your sites, making it easy to review who is coming and going if you need to investigate a break-in or theft. For instance, when a technician leaves to pick up a tool from a nearby store, that person may return and take another vehicle with them back out to the site. This can be an opportunity for a criminal to steal more valuable items.
As you develop your physical access control policy, many recommend involving people who understand your needs and risks. This might include teams from your security management, facilities, and IT departments. It’s essential to communicate the broader goals of your policy, including how it will prevent theft of inventory, damage to facilities, and the loss of critical data.
Reduced Risk of Fraud
A well-designed physical access control policy can reduce the risk of fraud. Fraud can take many forms, including theft, embezzlement, and misappropriation of funds. At the same time, many organizations focus on preventing fraud through controls in financial systems like accounting and payroll; a physical security system can also be used to avoid fraud.
A vital component of a functional physical access control policy is different tiers of access for employees. Typically, access is granted based on job titles and what areas each employee needs to do their work. This helps secure sensitive sites and ensures access is only given on a need-to-know basis.
Other essential components of a physical access control policy include regular audits and requiring credentials that are difficult to replicate, forge, or counterfeit. This reduces the likelihood of someone gaining unauthorized access to system hardware. The hardware can contain data critical to business operations, such as systems and applications software backups. This could significantly impact the organization and require substantial expense to replace or restore the data.
Easier Access Control
A physical access control system combines a physical barrier, like a gate, turnstile, or door lock, with a personal credential for entry. This can be an access card, mobile certificate, or PIN code, allowing trusted individuals to enter and keep others out. In addition, many systems use logical access control features, like a password or biometric scan, to further protect sensitive areas and data.
Another benefit of an access control system is that it can track entry and exit to your building or room, proving that people are working when they’re supposed to be. In addition, when an employee is terminated or loses their access credential, it can be revoked immediately without needing a costly rekeying of all doors.
It’s essential to have clear physical security policies and ensure everyone understands how to follow them. This includes employees, third-party contractors, and visitors. It’s also necessary to update access permissions when a person leaves and cancel any credentials that are no longer valid. This helps reduce your security risks and keeps your policy current.
A well-designed access control policy clearly defines who it covers (employees, contractors, and visitors) and what locations it relates to (office buildings, warehouses, and data centers). The policy may also specify the barriers needed in a facility and the security protocols that must be followed.
Using a physical barrier like a door or turnstile with user authorization credentials such as passwords, biometric scanning, and iris recognition can make it much more difficult for criminals to get into sensitive areas. When paired with a commercial VMS system, logical access control adds even more layers of protection by tracking who is where at any given time.
For example, access control models allow authorized users to grant temporary access to colleagues and guests, which makes them ideal for organizations with flexible shifts or remote team members. Pairing these systems with commercial VMS software allows building managers to monitor security remotely and helps ensure that staff has the necessary access necessary when needed. This layered approach to security can prevent data breaches and other security threats and minimize losses from contingencies like natural disasters or power outages.
A good access control policy clarifies the rules and gives people a clear understanding of what is expected of them when using your security system. This helps to reduce risk as the likelihood of a breach may increase if people need clarification about how the system should be used.
Different access tiers can help ensure people are privileged to enter sensitive areas. This is accomplished by granting physical access based on an employee’s overall job functions. This helps mitigate breaches by ensuring that only those who need to enter specific areas are allowed in, not just anyone with the credentials to gain entry.
When designing your access control policy, it is also essential to consider the potential impact of changing jobs and business structures. This allows you to be flexible and avoid security risks in an emergency evacuation. For example, a physical access control system with touchless access features like wave-to-unlock, capacity tracking, and full remote access for administrators can make it easier to reopen your business quickly after an emergency.