A clear lesson was learned after hackers breached the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., in June 2021: A cyberattack can have devastating physical consequences. In this particular case, a single compromised password led to the entire pipeline being shut down and gasoline shortages across the East Coast. Eventually, the outage gave rise to long lines at gas stations and — not surprisingly — higher fuel prices.
The price to pay can be too high when there are disjointed security operations. Hence, organizations must take an all-hazards approach to protection and understand that network security and physical security are really high connected disciplines that should be considered when hardening a facility.
Interestingly, The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a massive catalyst to unifying cyber and physical security. The adoption and integration of IoT has created an increasingly interconnected mesh of cyber-physical systems (CPS). The once clear functions of cybersecurity and physical security are now blurry and convergence is fundamental to avoid a compromise of sensitive or proprietary information, economic damage, or loss of life.
These are the reasons why converged security functions are beneficial:
Improved response to emergencies
Security convergence allows businesses to increase their productivity, manage crises more holistically, and avoid risk oversight when situations intersect the physical and digital realms.
Converged cybersecurity and physical security functions inevitably lead to better communication, budgeting, and prioritization. When a comprehensive approach is taken, personnel can understand security aspects that were not previously part of their job descriptions.
Organizations become more efficient when personnel have the skills to intersect physical and digital security. Team coordination and integration of solutions become seamless. Streamlined security operations also encourage cross-training, overall knowledge increase, reduction of duplicative efforts, and cost savings.
Stronger security posture
Technology convergence results in strengthening the overall security posture of an enterprise. When security departments are siloed, there are vulnerabilities that delinquents can easily target. However, if physical and cybersecurity divisions integrate, organizations can improve visibility into these risks and are better prepared to predict and respond to threats and address them before they escalate.
Criminals are constantly looking for new methods to cause deliberate failures and disruptions, many of which may endanger human lives. As the threat landscape evolves and hybrid attacks become more common, the right efforts to converge cybersecurity and physical security are urgently needed.