Physical Security in the Cyber World

Published: 2013-06-27
Last Updated: 2013-06-27 16:49:30 UTC
by Tony Carothers (Version: 1)
1 comment(s)

Why is physical security at least as important as technical security?  As a colleague and friend once explained some years ago “physical security trumps all”.  If we lose the physical security of a device, we have truly lost ownership.  We often talk about systems and applications being owned by bad actors, and the l33t skillz employed to gain these prizes.  We cannot lose sight of the fact that a smash and grab is still an effective way to gain access to your data.  Some of the top security firms operating today will often demonstrate the weakness by actually physically penetrating the office/datacenter/DCO, returning with images of the days headlines next to your assets.

A friend of the ISC, Sean, pointed out an instance while I was reading an old example of physical security facilitating the compromise, or possible compromise, of data.  A prison facility under construction in Iowa lost physical control of a laptop that had the blueprints of the prison, which is slated to house Iowa’s worst offenders.  The other example was a story related to tapping of fiber optic cables.  The tapping of fiber optic cables is not trivial, but one thing has to occur before the tapping can happen: Physical access to the cable.

Summary: When the CIO comes to you and says “physical security of the enterprise is now in your house”, be prepared.

1 comment(s)


Very true and it's easy to overlook the physical when you're focused on the technical. We need to always remember the three pillars of information security:

Technical (CIA triad)
Managerial (procedures/policy)

You can invest $10,000,000 in technical controls... only to be compromised by a $20 lock on the datacenter door.

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