There are many definitions given to the term physical security. It is a term often used by individuals involved in security without themselves grasping a full understanding of its true meaning.

Cyber security does not cover Physical security

Cyber security professionals are one profession that tend to use the term Physical security in a loose form. They claim to cover it during a cyber assessment. There’s certainly synergy between the two areas. However, here the focus is on a very narrow section of physical security. This often results in an assessment that highlights digital threats, but leads to other security vulnerabilities being overlooked.

Definition of Physical security


Physical security includes many overlapping layers which work together to produce a desired effect. Focusing on one area of security will not suffice, assessors need to consider each layer when looking for vulnerabilities. Modern systems such as IP CCTV are great security additions to any facility. However if incorrectly specified or installed they can lead to security vulnerabilities itself.

Locks and keys

Keys and locks are another layer of the security system. An ill fitting lock can lead to many security concerns. Key control is often problematic and an area that needs to be considered. Incorrectly specified, locks installed can also have a negative effect not only for security but for insurance.

Access control

Modern access control systems are a great asset to any facility, however, these can produce vulnerabilities if not thought through. Because passwords are a gateway to many modern security systems they should be regularly changed and should not be easily compromised. Control of access credentials such as fobs should be carefully monitored and distribution should be regulated.

Human error

Many of the problems found in any physical security system are quite often due to human error.

When an incorrectly specified system is installed it can have a profound impact on security. Because staff have not been adequately trained in security protocols we often find holes in security measures. When an installer is not fully competent with a security system, it may lead to an incorrectly installed system. A common fault of many installers is not changing factory default codes. This in itself leaves any facility vulnerable to attack.


There is much to consider and understand when assessing security at any facility, much more than discussed here. Before spending money upgrading security it is advisable to use a professional to look for vulnerabilities and give best practice recommendations.

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