Digital and Physical Security is Coming Together. Now, Workforce Education on Security Strategies is More Important Than Ever.



This is the age of digital transformation, and its growth is prompting a major reshaping of digital and physical security as more physical environments are supported by, dependent on, and connected to monitoring and data collection devices and networks. But with this digital rise, however, finding a balance between digital and physical security strategies remains a challenge. While advancements in security technology offer efficiency and reach, there are some cons and vulnerabilities that can introduce new risks and confusion to tried-and-true physical security operations. 

Stevan Bernard is the Senior Security Advisor at International SOS, a health and security services firm. Speaking to MarketScale at GSX 2023, Bernard stressed the importance of both digital and physical security in modern workplaces, and why approaching them as a unified front is the most effective strategy for a successful digital and physical security strategy. 

Bernard’s Thoughts

“The most effective programs involve educating the entire workforce, including your partners, your suppliers, your clients, consultants, so that they all know and understand, promote and endorse the program. Maybe I’ll start with, what has the trend been? And the trends have been to get away from gates, guards and guns, less of a physical, pure physical security program, doesn’t mean we don’t do it. But we’ve augmented this with technology, great technology that we see it here today in this show, and people are using it all over the world. I think it’s a blend that you want with digital and physical. I don’t think you should totally eliminate a person and the human element, if you will.”

Staying Up To Date on Security Trends

“What I would recommend is find a way to make yourself really aware of what technologies are available today, how they might integrate with your other programs and systems, make sure they’re functional in that regard, because they don’t always. Have someone that either is a third party or an employee that you help become a specialist in this. It’s that important. Invest in it, and then have them stay current on trends as well. The digital side of it offers great efficiencies, but it’s not without risk. And some of the risks are, I’ll give you an example, a company I was an executive vice president with was attacked by a nation state. Everything went down, we went dark, we unplugged worldwide.”

Lessons Learned and Playing it Safe

“One of the things that went down were 2,500 CCTV systems. Now what? And they went down for months. So when you think about what’s most important or least important that you bring back after in recovery, right, from a digital attack, cameras tend to be last, because you can put a body somewhere to manage that on an interim basis. There are other aspects of the business that must come back much sooner to drive revenue, to keep the business, the continuity of the business, really. So I think that’s, you’ve got to really think about that, and what are your priorities in that regard? Don’t overload on digital. I think we’re not quite there yet. It’s not foolproof, it’s not 100%, but it’s something that everybody’s doing. It’s important. You know, finding the right balance, I guess, is how I would leave it.”

The Benefits of a Proficient Workforce

“The most effective programs involve educating the entire workforce, including your partners, your suppliers, your clients, consultants, so that they all know and understand, promote and endorse the program. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. For example, a really good example is tailgating, right? I have to use my badge to open the perimeter to allow access, and I let three people follow me. All of a sudden, I have a program that’s totally ineffective, and I create risk. But if every employee knows that their job is to not allow that, and why do you have the systems in place to protect their work environment and them? That’s really critical. So engage the workforce, have them be a promoter and a supporter, and make it happen. Big difference. If you just put it in and assume it’s going to work, good luck.”

Article written by Alexandra Simon.

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