6 Critical Elements of good Physical Security

As a premium security technology design house, developer, integrator and operator YSG Security Solutions brings many years of experience to bare in regards to excellence in quality Physical Security.

Specialising in creating tailor-made perimeter solutions for our Clients. These systems are not only highly effective but are designed to actively intervene when the situation calls for it. We know that when it comes to potential threats against businesses and homes that prevention heavily outweighs limitation of loss. The best systems utilise a combination of cutting edge technologies which when integrated form a cohesive solution to the unique circumstances of that particular site. This Whitepaper will discuss the crucial elements in planning, executing and implementing an effective physical security infrastructure.

Elements:

  1. 1. Defining the problem and the needs
  2. 2. Cost – initial and ongoing
  3. 3. Installation
  4. 4. Disruption of Process
  5. 5. Overt and Covert Systems
  6. 6. Flexibility and Scalability

When a breach in security occurs those affected want to understand how it happened and more critically how it can be prevented from reoccurring again. The next 6 elements highlight the aspects which need to be included in a security plan going forward.

1. Defining the problem and needs

Determining to what extent a subject will be protected is the first and most important step of building a physical security system, and it directly affects the second greatest concern, cost.


The major parameters to establish when defining requirements include:

Threat

What are the general and specific threats? For example, if copper pipes are being stored in a warehouse, the physical security system must block a threat of theft. At an airport the system must detect any breaches of would be smugglers, stowaways or thieves.

Characteristics

The characteristics are determined by the value and physical attributes of the subject. For example, depending on the quantity of copper pipes being stored, different criteria may need to be borne in mind when designing the system. If the copper piping is in heavy long strips then a forklift or crane may be required to load a truck which would be needed to transport the pipes or it may take the thieves’ additional time on site to cut the pipes to smaller sizes. If the subject is small like a cell phone then a small bag would suffice.

Value of Asset(s)

What is the value of the subject which requires protection? Naturally the cost needs to be significantly proportionate to the amount the owner is prepared to spend to safeguard it. On occasion the Client may even be unaware of additional assets which are sought after. It is also important to remember that every party involved in the potential theft determines their own value for the item and the cost or risk they are prepared to take to safeguard or to obtain it. A chemical may have a predetermined cost to the manufacturer, but as a component in the manufacture of narcotics, may be worth far more ultimately to the criminal seeking it.

Impact of Failure

If the physical security system fails, what is the knock on effect to the business? If a component in a manufacturing process is stolen, this can lead to delays in the manufacturing process, missing customer deadlines resulting in penalties and many other reasons which would inflate the financial injury suffered by the client.

To properly design a system the specific problem and the value of defeating that problem must be defined. Understanding these issues is vital so that each element can be weighed up and the critical areas addressed.

2. Cost – initial and ongoing

Once the situation has been fully assessed, the next step for the planner would involve the deliberation of the costs associated to the system. Determining what the cost would be, whether upfront and or ongoing costs would need to be established and then compared against the value of what was being protected.

This seems to be an obvious and very straight forward calculation but it can often be misleading. The Senior Executives are watching the bottom-line and are often focused on the equation of the cost attributable to the new security system and the potential losses they may prevent. What is often hidden in initial proposals are the ongoing repair and maintenance costs involved. Bear in mind that the planned security system is only properly effective when every component is operational.

This goes without saying, but if components breakdown, then for what period do you have a gap or failing in your system? Also once initial guarantees have passed, these repairs can be costly and can leave the client at the mercy of those tasked to get the system back to being fully operational.

There are many ways to make a security budget more efficient. It is often a matter of cleverly implementing the systems to create a cost benefit to the end user. This can be done in a variety of ways and should look at including ongoing maintenance and efficient repair turnaround times.

3. Installation Criteria

Evaluating the various requirements for the installation of the system is important. Balance needs to be found between the quick fix approach and long term reliable approach. Both have their place and again this boils down to assimilating a multitude of factors to determine the best approach. For example, it may be quicker to install wireless cameras along a perimeter due to minimal labour requirements as opposed to trenching cable into the ground. The wireless option can be fraught with other issues as wireless devices can be interfered with and reception quality can vary. This is in contrast to the hardwired approach which can take longer to install, but has little to no maintenance or interference issues throughout its normal lifespan.

4. Disruption of Process

During the installation phase of the project, it may be necessary to allow for certain disruptions of the normal work around the business. This may be particularly true if covert systems are being installed as this would naturally defeat the objective of the exercise of having a covert system in the first place. Just as valid would be for any other security technology where critical components could be accessed and tampered with if their location was common knowledge.

Mission critical system components may need to be monitored on a continual basis to ensure that they are not tampered with or damaged. For example, the primary head unit of a system may be set up in a server room. It may then be necessary for the IT staff to obtain preauthorisation when they need to access this room to work. This change can frustrate staff but good security needs discipline from all parties involved and should not be easily circumvented.

5. Overt and Covert Systems

Criminals will observe their potential target facility before engaging in their attack. They will spend days if not weeks observing and understanding security systems and protocols within the site. It is therefore important that what can be seen in plain sight doesn’t comprise the full extent of the physical security blueprint.

What can be seen is often a physical deterrent that would frighten off the 99% of casual passers-by. It is the 1% that has the time to assess the sites security and the resolve to find a way to bypass them who we need to plan for. This is where the need to have the overt and covert aspects of the system working in unison. Adding components such as multi-sensor megapixel cameras and cameras with magnetic and radiation sensors, using divergent analytics, sound sensors, pressure sensors and thermal imagery are all elements that cannot be plainly seen from afar. Building these elements into the system design is critical especially if the target is high risk in nature.

6. Flexibility and Scalability

Change is ever present. Businesses grow and change and it is important to plan the security system so that it is flexible and scalable when the time comes. Nothing upsets a client more than when they have made a large investment or commitment on a security system and the entire system needs to be replaced when the need to widen their security coverage.

When planning the system it is good practice to factor in the maximum capability of the chosen system and ensure that it can meet the client’s potential growth demands in the future. It is also important to try and ensure that the necessary after sales support is likely to be available for many years to come from the suppliers of the equipment which has been incorporated into the design. Whilst this is not full proof, it is best to stick with tried and trusted providers who can give the support when needed.

Conclusion

It is important to carry across to the end user of this system that security is not there to make everyone’s life more convenient. It requires disciplined use of the system by all parties and it is important that the Client buys in to the effective running, operations and ongoing maintenance of the system. There are no guarantees and systems need to be routinely re-evaluated to determine they cover the latest crime trends and modus operandi of would be attackers.

First prize is that the attack never happens, but a comprehensive analysis and ultimately a well-executed system and security plan utilising the elements mentioned above should stand the Client in good stead to protect their assets.

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