Physical Security

Primary Consideration

  • There is nothing that should impede life safety goals.
  • Human life is always top priority.

Physical Security Concepts

  • Protection
    • Locks
    • Barriers: Walls, Fences
  • Deterrence
    • Guards / Dogs
    • Lighting
  • Delay
    • Barricades / Bollards
  • Detection
    • Cameras
    • Motion Detection


  • Used for crime deterrence.
  • It is important to have the correct lightning when using various types of surveillance equipment.
  • Lighting controls and switches should be in protected, locked, and centralized areas.
  • Continuous Lighting - An array of lights that provide an even amount of illumination across an area.
  • Controlled Lighting - An organization should erect lights and use illumination in such a way that does not blind its neighbors or any passing cars, trains, or planes.
  • Standby Lighting - Lighting that can be configured to turn on and off at different times so that potential intruders think that different areas of the facility are populated.
  • Redundant or Backup Lighting - Should be available in case of power failures or emergencies.
  • Response Area Illumination - Takes place when an IDS detects suspicious activities and turns on the lights within the specified area.

Perimeter Security

  • Fencing, gates, and cages.
  • Varying heights, gauge, and mesh provides security features.
  • Natural landscaping.
  • CPTED - Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Safes / Locking Cabinets

  • Safes
    • Control Access
    • Fireproof
    • Tamper Resistant and Evident
  • Locking Cabinets - Paper & Electronics
  • Computer Cable Locks - Reduce Theft
  • Key Management
    • Who has keys?
    • Where are they stored?
    • Key Duplication


  • Combination locks - rather than use a key, turn.
  • Cipher locks - electronic locks.
  • Lock Grades
    • Grade 1 - Commercial
    • Grade 2 - Heavy Duty Residential, Light Commercial
    • Grade 3. - Residential Throw-Away Locks
  • Cylinder Categories
    • Low - No pick or drill resistance provided.
    • Medium - A little pick resistance.
    • High - Higher degree of pick resistance.

Physical Access Controls

  • Turnstiles
  • Mantrap
    • Double doors, where only one can be opened at a time.
    • Use to control personnel access.
    • Manually operated or automatic.
    • Only room for one person.

Faraday Cage / Shielding

  • Shielding - The process of preventing electronic emissions from your computer systems from being used to gather intelligence and preventing outside electronic emissions from disrupting information-processing abilities.
  • Faraday Cage or Faraday Shield - An enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields. A Faraday shield may be formed by a continuous covering of conductive material or in the case of a Faraday cage, by a mesh of such materials.

Barricades / Bollards

  • Bollards are small concrete pillars, sometimes containing lights or flowers.
  • They are used to stop people from driving through a wall, often put between a building and a parking lot.
  • They can be arranged to form a natural path for walking.

Personnel Access Controls

  • There are different technologies to grant access to a building.
    • User Activated - A user does something such as swipe a card or use biometrics.
    • Proximity Devices / Transponders - A system recognizes the presence of an object. 'Electronic Access Control Tokens' are a generic term for proximity authentication systems.

Site Access Controls

  • Key Cards
    • Centralized access control consists of card readers, central computer, and electronic door latches.
    • Pros: easy to use, provides an audit record, easy to change access permissions.
    • Cons: can be used by others if lost, people may 'tailgate'.

Biometric Access Controls

  • Based upon a specific biometric measurement.
  • Fingerprint, Iris Scan, Retina Scan, Hand Scan, Voice, Facial Recognition, etc.
  • Greater confidence of claimed identity.


  • Motion Detection - Location monitoring and alarms based on movement.
  • Infrared Detection - Detects changes in infrared radiation or thermal heat.

Environmental Controls

  • HVAC - Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning
    • Redundancy
    • Backup Power / UPS
    • Zone-Based Heating & Cooling
  • Hot and Cold Aisles
    • With a hot aisle, hot air outlets are used to cool the equipment.
    • With cold aisles, cold air intake is used to cool the equipment.
    • Combining the two, you have cold air intake from below the aisle and hot air outtake above it, providing constant circulation.
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  • Fire Prevention, Detection, & Suppression
    • Prevention - Includes training employees on how to react, supplying the right equipment, enabling fire suppression supply, proper storage of combustible elements.
    • Detection - Includes alarms, manual detection pull boxes, automatic detection response systems with sensors, etc.
    • Suppression - The use of a suppression agent to put out a fire.
      • Two primary examples of fire-suppression systems in use are fire extinguishers and fixed systems.
      • Different types of suppression agents:
        • Water
        • Halon and Halon Substitutes
        • Foams
        • Dry Powders
        • CO2
        • Soda Acid
    • Fire Extinguisher Ratings
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    • Sprinkler Systems
      • Wet Pipe - Filled with pressurized water.
      • Dry Pipe - Fills with water only when activated.
      • Deluge - Discharges water from all sprinklers when activated.
      • Pre-Action - Dry pipe that converts to a wet pipe when an alarm is activated.
      • Foam Water Sprinkler - Uses water and fire-retardant foam.
      • Gaseous Fire Suppression - Displaces oxygen.
    • A formerly used, phased out method of fire suppression used for fires with electrical equipment.
    • NIST Technical Note 1622

Video Surveillance / Cameras

  • Supplements security guards.
  • Work in conjunction with guards or other monitoring mechanisms.
  • Provide points of view not easily achieved with guards.
  • Locations:
    • Entrances
    • Exits
    • Loading Bays
    • Stairwells
    • Refuse Collection Areas

CCTV Considerations

  • Purpose - To detect, assess, and/or identify intruders.
  • CCTV Environment: Internal/External
  • Field of View: Area to be monitored.
  • Illumination: Lighting, natural or artificial.
  • Integration with other security controls.

Electrostatic IDS

Also known as a 'proximity detector', this IDS uses a magnetic or electrostatic field to detect intrusions.
  • The Electrostatic IDS creates a balanced electrostatic field between itself and the object being monitored.
  • If an intruder comes within a certain range of the monitored object, it causes capacitance change.
  • The IDS can detect this change and sound an alarm.
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On this page
Primary Consideration
Physical Security Concepts
Perimeter Security
Safes / Locking Cabinets
Physical Access Controls
Faraday Cage / Shielding
Barricades / Bollards
Personnel Access Controls
Site Access Controls
Biometric Access Controls
Environmental Controls
Video Surveillance / Cameras
CCTV Considerations
Electrostatic IDS