Businesses commonly divide their security teams into two silos: physical and cyber/IT, with industrial organizations even dividing their teams across three: physical, operational (OT) and cyber/IT. However, as threats evolve and as bad actors become more intelligent, and with the goal of being proactive vs. reactive - the need for a robust, comprehensive converged security strategy is paramount.

Converged security efforts require attention to both technology integration and interoperability, as well as organizational readiness to improve people’s and teams' collaboration. ISC Security Events’ research shows that for convergence projects, they most often involve an equal role for physical security pros, operations, cyber/IT and executive/corporate management. The collaborative team must create a set of practices, policies, and a workflow that covers all assets, while also being mutually dependent on one another to succeed.  

A case in point is the  cybersecurity incident that impacted the US power grid earlier this year. Hackers caused the firewalls to reboot for nearly 10 hours, but thankfully the event only impacted the network perimeter, causing no disruptions to the electric power supply. Although the incident was not as dangerous as it could have been re physical damage, it highlights the importance of a converged security approach for preventative maintenance.

Organizational Alignment

A converged security structure is the stimulus that brings existing teams together, while also challenging oneself to expand on talent and training needs. In most organizations, there are employees dedicated to managing the physical operations of the space like doors, video cameras, alarms and infrastructure assets like HVAC control systems. However, due to evolutions in the use of IoT in the workplace- knowing that many of these operational and physical assets are connected to the internet- there is a need for the IT team to get involved in order to manage and control any issues that may arise. Having IT involved will help aid with approporiate data analysis, cloud management, and storage solutions. Another important, yet commonly overlooked practice is the IT team’s importance for sophisticated password management and cyber-hardening and testing of assets across the physical-IT-and operations realms.

In a converged structure, the expertise of the IT, physical and operational teams align harmoniously to rectify any security issues. All team members, while having subject matter expertise, all play a role to maintain cross-functional awareness and to enable a culture of group problem solving. For example, if a security problem with your smart security camera extends from the physical camera into the corporate network, a traditional organizational    structure would operate in a linear and slow-to-react manner, amplifying risk substantially. In a converged security structure, not only is there the opportunity to be predictive to avoid risk, but also to ensure fast response, leveraging expertise across the team.  

Mobile Access Control

Mobile access control is another fast-growing trend and best practice use case for converged security processes. The integration of authenticated mobile devices and smarter credentials into the workplace, along with a system of secure communications, will ultimately create a better system for all involved.

Video Surveillance

A central converged security method is using video surveillance. The marriage of critical infrastructure and cyber and physical surveillance with the intelligence of AI not only enhances the surveillance and response time for protecting your buildings and the surrounding area, but the ability to analyze and use the footage and data collected in preventative ways.

This, with the inclusion of technology like facial recognition and biometrics included in this area of security, offers real-time viewing and therefore real-time action and reaction in the case of a security issue. It is not easy to duplicate your unique “facial signature”, so using this technology, the camera would be able to quickly detect those that are unrecognizable, thus minimizing the risk of a bad actor being able to bypass your organization’s security efforts. Using video surveillance in tandem with these latest technologies will allow real-time reactions if a security concern should arise.

Converged Security is Here Now and the Standard for the Future

Combining these integrated aspects of security creates the opportunity for numerous advancements in your business structure, stimulating the path to complete digital transformation, as well as better processes for evaluating and implementing new technologies. To get started, paying equal care to the technology and organizational aspects along with buy in from executive leadership, will chart the course for stronger security and safety for your organization and community.