Physical Security Controls & Asset Management

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You can’t eliminate risk to an organization’s assets. However, you can reduce the impact of many threats by implementing security controls. If you’re planning to take the SY0-501 Security+ exam, you should have a basic understanding of security controls.  This includes physical security controls that help protect access to secure areas and asset management systems that can help reduce several vulnerabilities.

For example, can you answer this question?

Q. Management within your organization wants to create a small network used by executives only. They want to ensure that this network is completely isolated from the main network. Which of the following choices BEST meets this need?

A. Airgap

B. Mantrap

C. Control diversity

D. Infrared motion detectors

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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Physical Security Controls

A physical security control is something you can physically touch, such as a hardware lock, a fence, an identification badge, and a security camera. Physical security access controls attempt to control entry and exits, and organizations commonly implement different controls at different boundaries, such as the following:

  • Perimeter. Military bases and many other organizations erect a fence around the entire perimeter of their land. They often post security guards at gates to control access. In some cases, organizations install barricades to block vehicles.
  • Buildings. Buildings commonly have additional controls for both safety and security. For example, guards and locked doors restrict entry so only authorized personnel enter. Many buildings include lighting and video cameras to monitor the entrances and exits.
  • Secure work areas. Some companies restrict access to specific work areas when employees perform classified or restricted access tasks. In some cases, an organization restricts access to all internal work areas. In other words, visitors can enter the lobby of a building, but they are not able to enter internal work areas without an escort.

Physical Security Controls & Asset Management

  • Server and network rooms. Servers and network devices such as routers and switches are normally stored in areas where only the appropriate IT personnel can access them. These spaces may be designated as server rooms or wiring closets. It’s common for an organization to provide additional physical security for these rooms to prevent attackers from accessing the equipment. For example, locking a wiring closet prevents an attacker from installing illicit monitoring hardware, such as a protocol analyzer, to capture network traffic.
  • Hardware. Additional physical security controls protect individual systems. For example, server rooms often have locking cabinets to protect servers and other equipment installed in the equipment bays. Cable locks protect laptop computers, and smaller devices can be stored in safes.
  • Airgap. An airgap is a physical security control that ensures that a computer or network is physically isolated from another computer or network. As an example, you can isolate a computer from a network by ensuring that it is not connected to any other system in the network. This lack of connectivity provides an airgap. This is often done to separate classified networks from unclassified networks.

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Asset Management

Asset management is the process of tracking valuable assets throughout their life cycles. For example, organizations commonly implement processes to track hardware such as servers, desktop computers, laptop computers, routers, and switches. An effective asset management system can help reduce several vulnerabilities:

  • Architecture and design weaknesses. Asset management helps reduce architecture and design weaknesses by ensuring that purchases go through an approval process. The approval process does more than just compare costs. It also evaluates the purchase to ensure it fits in the overall network architecture. Unapproved assets often weaken security by adding in additional resources that aren’t managed.
  • System sprawl and undocumented assets. System sprawl occurs when an organization has more systems than it needs, and systems it owns are underutilized. Asset management begins before the hardware is purchased and helps prevent system sprawl by evaluating the purchase. Additionally, after the purchase is completed, asset management processes ensure hardware is added into the asset management tracking system. This ensures that the assets are managed and tracked from cradle to grave.

Many organizations use automated methods for inventory control. For example, radio- frequency identification (RFID) methods can track the movement of devices. These are the same types of devices used in stores to prevent shoplifting. If someone exits without paying, the RFID device transmits when the shoplifter gets close to the exit door and sounds an alarm. Organizations won’t necessarily have an alarm, but they can track the movement of devices.

Mobile devices are easy to lose track of, so organizations often use asset-tracking methods to reduce losses. For example, when a user is issued a mobile device, asset-tracking methods record it. Similarly, if the user leaves the company, asset-tracking methods ensure the user returns the device.


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  • 75 question pre-assessment exam
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  • Understanding Identity and Access Management (full content from Chapter 2 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Exploring Network Technologies and Tools (full content from Chapter 3 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Securing Your Network (full content from Chapter 4 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Securing Hosts and Data (full content from Chapter 5 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Comparing Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Common Attacks (full content from Chapter 6 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Protecting Against Advanced Attacks (full content from Chapter 7 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Using Risk Management Tools (full content from Chapter 8 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Implementing Controls to Protect Assets (full content from Chapter 9 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Cryptography and PKI (full content from Chapter 10 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Implementing Policies to Mitigate Risks (full content from Chapter 11 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
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  • Glossary

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Q. Management within your organization wants to create a small network used by executives only. They want to ensure that this network is completely isolated from the main network. Which of the following choices BEST meets this need?

A. Airgap

B. Mantrap

C. Control diversity

D. Infrared motion detectors

Answer is A. An airgap ensures that a computer or network is physically isolated from another computer or network.

A mantrap helps prevent unauthorized entry and is useful for preventing tailgating.

Control diversity is the use of different controls such as technical, administrative, and physical, but it doesn’t necessarily isolate networks.

Infrared motion detectors sense motion from infrared light, but they don’t isolate networks.

See Chapter  8 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide  for more information on implementing controls to protect assets.

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