Implementing Physical Security Measures

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If you’re planning to take the Security+ exam, you should have a basic understanding of different physical security measures that attempt to control entry and exits to secure work areas.

See if you can answer this sample practice test question.

Q. Thieves recently rammed a truck through the entrance of your company’s main building. During the chaos, their partners proceeded to steal a significant amount of IT equipment. Which of the following choices can you use to prevent this from happening again?

A. Bollards

B. Guards

C. CCTV

D. Mantrap

Do you know the correct answer? More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? The answer and explanation is available at the end of this post.

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Increasing Physical Security with Guards

Many organizations use security guards to control access to buildings and secure spaces. If employees have ID badges, guards can check these badges prior to granting the employees access. Even if ID badges aren’t used, guards can still verify people’s identity using other identification. Similarly, the security guards can restrict access by checking people’s identity against a preapproved access control list.

Security guards can also take a less-active role to deter security incidents. For example, a security guard can deter tailgating incidents by observing personnel when they use their proximity card to gain access to a secure area.

Remember this

Security guards are physical security controls that can protect access to restricted areas. Security guards can be an effective deterrent to prevent tailgating. They can also check individuals’ identification against a preapproved access list.

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Fencing and Motion Detection

Fences provide a barrier around a property and deter people from entering. In addition to providing security, fences also enhance safety by preventing unauthorized individuals from entering a secure area.

You can increase the deterrent effects by using higher fences and barbed wire, though this isn’t always possible. For example, a manufacturing facility surrounded by coils of barbed wire evokes memories of war and might give the company a bad reputation. Similarly, some building codes restrict the height of some fences.

An alternative to higher fences is the use of motion detection sensors. These detect any motion on the fence, such as when someone is trying to climb it. A challenge with these fences is the high incidence of false alarms. For example, a cat or squirrel climbing the fence might trigger the motion detector.

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Proper Lighting and Motion Detection

Installing lights at all of the entrances to a building can deter attackers from trying to break in. Similarly, lighting at the entrances of any internal restricted areas can deter people from trying to enter. In addition to enhancing security, lighting also contributes to personnel safety.

Many organizations use a combination of automation, light dimmers, and motion sensors to save on electricity costs without sacrificing security. The lights automatically turn on at dusk, but in a low, dimmed mode. When the motion sensors detect any movement, the lights turn on at full capacity. They automatically turn off at dawn.

It’s important to protect the lights. For example, if an attacker can remove the light bulbs, it defeats the control. Either place the lights high enough so that they can’t be easily reached, or protect them with a metal cage.

Physical Security Measures

Alarms and Motion Detection

Alarms provide an additional physical security protection. This includes alarms that detect fire and alarms that detect unauthorized access. Fire alarms detect smoke and/or heat and trigger fire suppression systems. Burglary prevention systems monitor entry points such as doors and windows, detecting when someone opens them.

You can also combine motion detection systems with burglary prevention systems. They detect movement within monitored areas and trigger alarms. Obviously, you wouldn’t have motion detection systems turned on all the time. Instead, you’d turn them on when people will not be working in the area, such as during nights or weekends.

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Security Measures Using Barricades

In some situations, fencing isn’t enough to deter potential attackers. To augment fences and other physical security measures, organizations erect stronger barricades. As an example, military bases often erect strong, zigzag barricades that require vehicles to slow down to navigate through them. This prevents attackers from trying to ram through the gates.

Businesses and organizations need to present an inviting appearance, so they can’t use such drastic barricades. However, they often use bollards, which are short vertical posts, composed of reinforced concrete and/or steel. They often place the bollards in front of entrances, placed about three or four feet apart. They typically paint them with colors that match their store. You’ve probably walked through a set of bollards multiple times without giving them a second thought. However, thieves who are contemplating driving a car or truck through the entrance do see them.

Many thieves have driven vehicles right through the front of buildings, and then proceeded to steal everything in sight. Depending on the strength of the walls, criminals might even be able to drive through a wall with a truck. Strategically placed bollards will prevent these types of attacks.

Remember this

Barricades provide stronger barriers than fences and attempt to deter attackers. Bollards are effective barricades that can block vehicles.


 

Q. Thieves recently rammed a truck through the entrance of your company’s main building. During the chaos, their partners proceeded to steal a significant amount of IT equipment. Which of the following choices can you use to prevent this from happening again?

A. Bollards

B. Guards

C. CCTV

D. Mantrap

Answer is A. Bollards are effective barricades that can block vehicles.

Guards can restrict access for personnel, but they cannot stop trucks from ramming through a building.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) or a similar video surveillance system can monitor the entrance, but it won’t stop the attack.

Mantraps prevent tailgating, but they most likely won’t stop a truck.

See Chapter 2 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide for more information on physical security controls.

You might also like to view the blog post about other Common Physical Security Controls.

 

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