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Why Your Disaster Recovery Plan Should Include Physical Security

When you think of disaster recovery, it’s likely that your mind immediately goes to securing your digital data. And while there are indeed many disasters that can harm the integrity of critical data, it is also possible for your physical assets to be affected.

How Physical Security and Disaster Recovery are Linked

You may not realize that robbery and other physical crimes qualify as “disasters,” but just like a major cybersecurity breach, these incidents can result in rapid data loss; however, there are many other disasters that can also give criminals access to vital data.

For example, imagine if your office was severely damaged by a fire or major storm event. Unfortunately, the physical damage can present the perfect opportunity for vandals to invade the property and steal valuable equipment, documents, and more. Looting is extremely common during natural disasters, and it is not unheard of for individuals to search for equipment they can sell to make quick money. And when your electronics or files end up in the wrong hands, the information they contain can also be sold.

When criminals enter your organizational property, it also opens the door for them to access data themselves using your IT infrastructure. Additionally, they could quickly install malware to provide remote access in the near future.

Regardless of how you look at it, it is clear that a disaster recovery plan should address physical security measures.

Creating a Physical Security Strategy

Much like cybersecurity, a physical security strategy should start with a clearly written plan that addresses:

  • Your organization’s present needs for physical security
  • Planned future needs/direction

Ideally, the physical security plan should be a component of your organization’s written security procedures and policies.

A well-designed physical security strategy should include:

  • Detailed descriptions of the physical assets in need of protection
  • Detailed descriptions of the physical locations of the above-mentioned assets
  • A description of your building’s physical security perimeter, as well as any holes in the perimeter
  • Potential threats to physical security (natural disasters, accidents, attacks, etc.), the likelihood of each, and how you will protect against them
  • Specific physical security defenses, including:
    • Access control
    • Surveillance
    • Biometrics
    • Perimeter security systems
    • Mass notification procedures
    • Facial recognition
    • License plate recognition
    • Intrusion detection
    • Mobile security
  • Targeted improvements to be made to existing defenses
  • The value of the data/information that is being protected

Due to the complexity of a physical security strategy, most organizations make the decision to have it formulated by a professional cybersecurity team. Ideally, partner with a provider that can give detailed recommendations and support you in their implementation.

Key Considerations for Your Physical Security Strategy

Regardless of the efficacy of your current strategy for physical strategy, these three key considerations can serve as an excellent starting point:

  1. Understand what you are currently working with. It is critical that you possess an understanding of the areas of your network that would be most severely impacted by a disaster. In most cases, physical security should be near the top of the list; and yet, it is often forgotten. Before you attempt to make improvements, take a detailed inventory of your security measures to get a better idea of potential weaknesses.
  2. Document all details and protect the information accordingly. Your disaster response and recovery plan should include physical security information, ideally in as much detail as possible. In the event of a disaster, it is better to have extra information than find yourself coming up short. Consider the sensitivity of this information and be sure to implement the appropriate safeguards.
  3. Include third-party facilities in your contingency planning. Third-party facilities are often overlooked when it comes to physical security controls. Particularly if you have physical security equipment housed at off-site locations, it is imperative to make sure their security standards are up to par.

Solidify Your Strategy for Physical Security

Don’t let criminals take advantage of your organization when the unexpected happens. Make sure you’ve built physical security into your disaster recovery plan. The ideal approach is a comprehensive security strategy that protects your data and your property, specifically tailored to suit your needs and procedures.

Should you have any questions on this topic, please feel free to contact us at any time.


Meet the Author
Vlad Pivtorak is Quest's Director of Infrastructure Services.
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