How physical security controls help businesses protect information


Physical security controls offer businesses protection against damaging attacks that threaten your information security. Keeping your data and information safe from theft, corruption or distortion. In our digital world, where cybercriminals can grind a business to a halt with an email, it’s logical to focus on digital barriers, such as firewalls and two-factor authentication.

To offer some guidance on how to beef up the physical security controls of your business, we’ve compiled some helpful tips and tricks to provide added security and meet compliance standards. So, with this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the risks posed by physical insecurity and what your business can do to reduce them.

Why is physical security important?

Cybersecurity is of paramount importance, there’s no getting away from it! But, digital threats are not the only ones that pose a risk to your information. Perhaps a previous employee has a grievance against your business or a competitor wants to gain an advantage over your business. They may choose to act maliciously and access your information, therefore, stringent physical security controls are required to combat these threats. 

Physical security doesn’t just pose a risk to large businesses either. It is also a weakness that is particularly easy to exploit in smaller organisations, as they often have less money to invest in physical protection and fewer resources dedicated to security. 

The new working models of hybrid working, or permanent home working, have also made physical security an increased issue for more businesses. Home workspaces are likely to be significantly less secure than an office or other workplace, making it easier for criminals to gain access to devices. The travel and transportation of these devices to and from the workplace also opens up more opportunities for those with malicious intent.

What’s at risk of physical attack?

Every organisation has physical assets or facilities that can give criminals access to your information. This includes:

  • Laptops
  • Desktops
  • Mobile phones
  • Removable media such as USBs
  • Paperwork
  • Server rooms
  • Delivery/unloading areas

Everything in this list is vulnerable if the wrong person gains access. If your server room is accessed, malware could be directly uploaded or remote access set up. Alternatively, hard drives could be damaged to cause data loss. Gaining access to this equipment or facilities can be done in a number of ways.

A criminal could gain access via open delivery areas or by tailgating your other employees, gaining access to the building by approaching your staff as they are about to enter. Equipment can also be stolen or lost while an employee is travelling, something that’s a growing risk as more staff now work on a hybrid basis. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be an individual who damages your equipment and facilities. Fires and flooding can also severely damage your assets and create debilitating data loss.

Examples of physical security policies

The best way to increase your security? Having a robust set of physical security policies offers a protective barrier for your assets and facilities. 

Consider implementing some of the following physical security policies below: 

  • Creating a clean desk policy 
  • Physical security awareness training for your staff 
  • An identification system for all entrants to your physical workplace 
  • Robust backup protocols
  • Increase physical security measures with cameras and alarms
  • Secure doors and gates
  • Encryption and access control 
  • Create a culture of security

Clean desk policy

Workers are prone to leaving papers lying on their desks, it’s convenient, but it can be costly. If paperwork contains sensitive or confidential information, its contents can easily be stolen through unauthorised access. A clean desk policy ensures that key papers are put away at the end of the day. Papers can be shredded, so they’re free from any prying eyes!

Physical security training

Your staff are often on the frontline when it comes to deterring a physical attack. Training in social engineering and tailgating is therefore extremely useful to raise awareness and improve physical security standards. Make sure you also communicate the importance of locking computers when they are not in use.

Identification system

Depending on your budget and security risk, this can be as simple as creating unique ID badges or passcards, or the implementation of biometric scanners. This reduces the likelihood of tailgating, and if passcodes or scanners are used, you can restrict access to sensitive areas such as the server room.

Backing-up data

Backups won’t stop information from being lost in the first place, but if your equipment is damaged or lost, information can then be quickly restored. You may want to think about doing this on a cloud, which cannot be physically damaged.

Physical security measures

Security cameras can be installed outside vulnerable areas such as outside your server room, reception area or delivery spaces. Alarms are useful to alert people within the workplace or the police of any security breach if the alarm is not switched off.

Secure doors and gates

Your server rooms should always be secured with a locked door. The level of protection you put on this door will depend on your budget and risk level. Gated entry into the building can also help to stop tailgating, as will specially designed anti-tailgating doors, which only allow the access of one pass-holding employee at a time.

Encryption and access control

Ensure that staff encrypt sensitive and confidential material, including that saved on removable devices and information sent via email. This adds another level of security to your information if access to the device is gained. Your passwords should be strong and changed frequently to offer an added layer of protection. Access to sensitive or confidential information should only be granted to those who need it.

Create a culture of security

Integrate physical and digital security into every aspect of your business operations with an information management system such as ISO 27001. Designed by global experts, ISO 27001 has 93 risk controls that cover risk from every angle, helping you to create the processes you need to maintain information security, no matter the size of your organisation.

Boost your information security with ISO certification

ISO 27001 offers an excellent framework for physical security controls. It’s the certification Standard that offers an all-rounded approach to protecting your business information from digital and physical attacks. We can help you implement an Information Security Management System that is compliant with the ISO 27001 certification requirements.

If you would like to learn more about information security, take a look at our article on the controls of ISO 27001 or check out our on-demand webinar.

Find out more about our ISO 27001 services and how we can help your business achieve certification to bolster the physical security of your business. Request a quote today and start strengthening your physical control measures today.

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About the author

  • Name:

    Claire Price

  • Company:

    Content Marketing Executive

  • Bio:

    Claire worked for Citation ISO Certification between 2020 and 2022 writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.


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