Cyber security and physical security grew up at different times and in different neighborhoods. In fact, long before digital transformation was even a concept, physical security had staked out its corporate territory and was on the job protecting the company’s people, buildings, and other assets. Then, as the business world grew increasingly more reliant on information technology, digital security started flexing its muscles on its own turf.
These days, critical events are increasingly severe – natural disasters, extreme weather, workplace violence, civil unrest, terrorism, cybercrime, and more. Some threaten the safety of people: Employees, contractors, customers, and visitors. Some threaten physical assets: Buildings and campuses, equipment, and inventory. Some threaten extended business operations: Suppliers, partners, and logistics. Some threaten digital infrastructure: Hardware, software, sensitive data, and intellectual property. Inevitably, many critical events put all of these things at risk.
Today’s divided approach to cyber security and physical security has put many companies in a disadvantaged position when it comes to preparing for and responding to events that threaten both physical and digital assets. Just as companies are taking on transformation initiatives to break down silos residing within data repositories, IT systems, business units, regional offices, and more, visionary business leaders are realizing that they need to take a unified approach to critical event management regardless of whether the event threat is physical, digital, or both.
Digital and Physical Security Go Hand-in-Hand
Today, threat profiles are getting increasingly difficult to categorize. Many physical threats like extreme weather and natural disasters can be equally catastrophic for physical assets and digital systems alike. Many cyber threats like phishing and ransomware attacks compromise digital networks which, in turn, may lead to cyber attackers controlling the company’s physical systems. So, these days, it’s not physical security OR digital security; it’s physical security AND digital security.
Every critical event is unique. However, one maxim applies across the board: The more time passes without a swift, decisive and orderly response, the greater the impact on your people, assets, and business operations, and the fewer options you may have for responding. Forward-looking, resilient companies are now integrating cyber and physical security to facilitate a decisive, orderly, and rapid response to critical events.
How Does Merging Cyber and Physical Security Improve Efficiency?
When a critical event occurs, regardless of the cause or the potential impacts, companies have a duty of care to keep their people safe and the organization secure, both from a physical plant and a digital infrastructure perspective. Security personnel must be able to respond to all critical events according to a consistent set of operating procedures.
During a crisis, security personnel need to
- Understand what is happening
- Determine who or what may be affected
- Assess the relevance and relative magnitude of the threat
- Respond accordingly
- Communicate clearly
After the critical event has passed, security personnel need to
- Analyze their actions
- Learn from their response so that they are even better prepared to respond to the next critical event
Full visibility of the threat and its impacts is imperative. Being able to integrate risk frameworks, business processes and crisis response enables teams to view both physical safety and digital security as clearly as possible. Integration and centralization allow for expedited management of incidents as they emerge and fuel continued operational resilience.
Taking a unified approach to digital and physical security pools valuable resources, centralizes data analysis, and accelerates response times, which may save lives, protect infrastructure, and preserve business continuity. By responding quickly to any type of threat with decisive, prescriptive action and instructions, enterprises can better protect their people and minimize damage to their facilities. This reduces company liability and minimizes the scope of disaster recovery efforts needed. Saving lives while saving money is a win-win for all.
Fusion Center Software: How to Integrate Digital and Physical Security
Security teams need to attend to three key concerns:
- People safety
- Physical safety
- Digital infrastructure protection
Companies on the vanguard of integrated security are building fusion centers to merge physical and digital security capabilities in order to enhance their overall security posture around these three primary concerns.
But what is a fusion center? According to StateTech Magazine, fusion centers, or cyber fusion centers, are centralized workspaces that “integrate multiple data sources into a single, cohesive picture, allowing users to assess a situation in real-time and make decisions quickly.” StateTech also says that fusion centers “bring together people and data to better coordinate responses to threats.”
While fusion centers initially gained a foothold in the public sector (according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there is at least one cyber fusion center operating in each of the 50 U.S. states currently), private enterprises are recognizing the value of a centralized and unified approach to critical event management and are now investing in bringing their own fusion centers online.
Data is the key to integrated digital and physical security. Fusion centers centralize data feeds from as many different sources as your company can supply. These include HR and ERP systems, IoT devices, video surveillance, local scanners, contact tracing apps, visitor logs, and much more. By centralizing all data feeds in the fusion center, integrated security teams can quickly assess the critical event at hand, its potential impact, and act accordingly to maximize safety, minimize damage, and review the effectiveness of the response.
Everbridge: Your Partner for Critical Event Management via Intelligent Automation
Regardless of whether an enterprise deploys a fusion center or maintains a more traditional approach to physical and digital security, a manual approach to crisis response is completely inadequate. Organizations need automated tools engineered to increase enterprise resilience. To capitalize on the disparate yet relevant data available to inform swift and decisive action against critical events, Everbridge can power a fusion center for business with its Critical Event Management (CEM) platform. CEM leverages intelligent automation and helps enterprises protect what matters most.
Everbridge CEM aggregates and analyzes pertinent data and automates myriad crisis response processes to assess risk and locate affected people and assets, so you can act faster with greater confidence. The components of the CEM platform help drive continued optimization of your organization and its operations:
Everbridge CEM is the fusion center software for emergency preparedness and response that thousands of private sector companies and public sector organizations rely on to keep their people safe and their businesses running.