If there’s an area in your building where sensitive devices or data is stored, you may have considered installing additional physical security measures to keep your business-critical information safe. Physical access control security could be the protection you’re looking for. In this guide, we look at what physical access control is, why it could be a good solution for your business and important physical access control procedures to be aware of.
Let’s start by addressing the key question: what are physical access controls and physical access control security? Also known as PACS, physical access controls are a type of security system that is designed to authorize or prevent access to a building, or a specific part of the building.
Access control physical security ensures that only people who are authorized to enter can do so. This means you’re protected from intruders. Physical access control security can also help to create a more seamless user journey through a building for authorized users. Different access levels can be set for different users, meaning that employees can access sensitive areas of a building only when they have the proper authorization.
Access levels are usually set by assigning access levels to individual users or to groups of users at a particular level, such as executives or contractors. An example of physical access control can be allowing access for all users to a main door using their entry card, key fob door entry systems or PIN, but not allowing access into specific areas of a building that contain secure, sensitive or privileged information.
Previously, security access relied on security guards who would manually approve or deny access at key entry points. Today, physical security access control is digitized. Physical access control systems (PACS) use key fob, swipe cards and personal identification numbers (PINs) to verify authorization, rather than traditional physical keys. Physical security access control policies enable you to control access to your building at a granular level. As well as granting or denying access to individuals, physical access control plans and systems can be used to:
There are several key components that make up a physical access control system. These include:
The PACS must be combined with doors that have electronic locks which can be programmed to open automatically when valid credentials are presented. You may choose to use fail-safe or fail-secure locks, although if you’re protecting certain parts of your building, security protocols may dictate which type of lock to use. Entry doors, for example, must use fail-safe locks to comply with fire regulations, allowing people to exit at any time.
Here are some common authentication examples for physical access control , with their advantages and disadvantages:
The biggest benefit of a physical access control system is heightened security. Installing a PACS system increases the likelihood that unauthorized people can’t gain access to protected areas, and gives operators control over every area of a building. Because security controls can be set at a granular level, operators can be specific about which employees can access which parts of a building.
A PACS can help mitigate the risk of security breaches from both internal and external sources. According to the 2022 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report, insider threat incidents rose by 44% over the past two years, and the cost per incident was $15.38 million, an increase of more than a third.
PACS can also help buildings stay compliant with regulations in particular industries, such as healthcare. Protecting rooms where confidential information is stored will help healthcare organizations to be fully compliant and keep patients’ private information safe.
Understand what access control is and how it works
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Get criteria for choosing the right system for your organization
Physical and logical access control systems are both centered around managing who can access restricted areas and information. While physical access security controls restrict access to physical premises and locations, including entire buildings, offices, rooms and IT assets, logical access control is focused on making sure that only the right people can access your digital assets and data.
PACS stop unauthorized access to your physical locations, while logical access control stops people without permissions from accessing your digital resources, networks, system files and data.
Logical access control usually works through a combination of identification, authentication and authorization protocols, requiring PIN codes or passwords to be granted access. The three main components of logical security are as follows:
When it comes to accessing digital data on computers, ‘something you know’ verification is most common.
Both physical and logical security can be combined with physical access control plans to create a more comprehensive security system that helps to protect both your property and data.
Physical access control systems can be cloud-based or located on your premises, and each has its benefits and disadvantages.
When you choose an on-premise PACS, access is managed via controls on computers within your building, usually by network administrators.
Cloud-based PACS can be managed from anywhere, meaning that operators and security teams can control building access even when they are not physically present in the building. Operators can add and remove authentications remotely, run reports and troubleshoot issues from anywhere. A cloud PACS is a flexible system and is ideal for modern business environments.
When considering your physical access control plans, there are a few key elements to think about that will ensure you implement the right physical access control procedures for your business:
You may also want to ask yourself the following questions to help you choose the right physical access control system and policies:
Once you’ve decided on the right PACS for you and the type of security credentials you’ll use, there are examples of physical access control best practices to follow to get the best out of your system:
Physical access systems are a good way to manage who is coming and going from your building and restricted areas, but it isn’t the full picture when it comes to keeping your property safe.
Physical access control plans can be used in combination with other security measures, such as camera security systems to create a more rounded security strategy that provides full transparency.
The right physical access control security that’s integrated with commercial cameras pairs access data with live images. In the instance that an unauthorized user gets hold of an entry card, they’d still be able to access your building as there’s no way to prove that it’s not the authorized person trying to enter the building. When paired with real-time footage from a camera system, an element of visual verification is added, providing additional identification to ensure that only authorized users can gain access and allowing security teams to respond to breaches instantly.
A video system with remote, cloud-based physical access control policies means that you can policies manage access from anywhere, with the option to block entry or trigger a building lockdown if necessary. It also provides additional reporting capabilities, helping to gain a fuller picture of your security and giving you deep-level insights to improve your security strategy and streamline your operations.
Our video security experts can help you implement the right security system for your business.