5 Trends in Physical Security and Why They Matter

With so much attention on cybersecurity these days, it’s all too easy to overlook the physical security of our homes, workstations and facilities. Here’s a look at some of the most consequential trends in physical security and why they should matter to all of us.

1. Third-Party Identity Management Takes Off

Physical identity and access management (PIAM) is a quickly growing industry beneath the umbrella of physical and digital security. Projections indicate a 14.6% compound annual growth rate for the PIAM industry between 2018 and 2025. 

Part of the reason for this expansion involves more stringent security requirements for airports, energy facilities and other locations of strategic, economic or public importance.

PIAM is a service-based industry, meaning companies outsource the whole of their premises’ security to a third-party instead of building their own solutions or dealing with multiple vendors. It covers employee and visitor identity confirmation and management, including awarding and revoking physical access automatically.

The proliferation of mobile devices in the private sector has created a significant need for comprehensive, centralized control over credentialing and access management. Ultimately, PIAM brings the software-as-a-service model into the realm of physical security, helping companies save money and achieve greater peace of mind.

2. Biometrics Make Their Way Into Security Solutions

During a technology panel in Washington, D.C., telecom industry representatives indicated that the U.S. requires 250,000 new cell towers to bring nationwide 5G online. Physical network security is vital for keeping unauthorized parties away from sensitive infrastructure.

Access control is vital in other industries, too, including in food and beverage manufacturing. Bioterrorism and so-called “food terrorism” present challenges of their own where access control is concerned.

Biometrics is the most secure solution for controlling access to sensitive areas, including manufacturing plants and networking and data storage infrastructure. Face, fingerprint and retinal scans are on track to capture a significant portion of the digital and physical security landscape.

Experts expect the market for biometric security products to grow to 3.5 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 19%. By 2022, 60% of global companies and 90% of mid-sized enterprises will have implemented passwordless security for at least 50% of their processes. In 2018, this number stood at just 5%.

3. Vehicle-Ramming Attacks Continue to Rise

Data shows that the frequency and deadliness of vehicle-based attacks are on the rise globally. These include vehicles used to impact buildings or civilians.

There were 120 such attacks between 1973 and 2018, and just 16 of these fell between 1973 and 2007. The remaining 62 occurred between 2008 and 2018. Between January 2017 and April 2018, there were 30 vehicle-based attacks. This trend has accelerated dramatically in only a few years.

This physical security example underscores the willingness of bad actors to use any weapon they can lay their hands on. Thankfully, the most straightforward solutions are sometimes the most useful and cost-effective deterrents. As an example, a single-beam anti-ram fence keeps vehicles at bay while requiring contractors to dig 75% fewer holes for posts.

4. AI Takes a Larger Role in Security and Surveillance

Artificial intelligence is one of the most significant additions to the physical network security landscape, as well as one of the most controversial. In 2019, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban facial recognition technology for law enforcement use.

Even so, companies near and far have targeted AI as a competitive advantage in the race for more powerful physical security measures. One of these, Evolv Technology, claims its AI-powered security system can screen up to 900 people per hour without human intervention.

Another, Deep Sentinel, claims their combination of predictive AI and motion sensing can detect a threat or unauthorized entry within 10 seconds and alert authorities within 20 seconds.

For both personal and commercial use, the pattern recognition capabilities of AI mean many fewer hours of security footage to store and comb through. It should also dramatically cut down on time required to screen large crowds at major events.

5. Drones Take Physical Security and Public Safety to New Heights

Drones are one of the most exciting consumer and commercial technologies out there right now. Interestingly, they represent both a problem and a fix for physical security. Law enforcement officials were tight-lipped, but they made it clear that drone mitigation technology was front and center at the most recent Super Bowl.

The goal? Introducing automation to immediately identify and prevent unauthorized aircraft in the airspace above the stadium. Consider bad actors equipped with drones a physical security threat that will continue through 2020 and beyond. Additional technologies like Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and geofencing also play a role here.

Drones can be part of the solution, too. In fact, experts expect the commercial deployment of drones to reach 805,000 units by 2021, for a CAGR of 51%. Throughout 2020, unmanned aerial vehicles will become an indispensable part of safety and security.

With eyes in the sky, companies can patrol corporate campuses with fewer personnel and carry out faster and more comprehensive sweeps of public and semi-public areas, including construction sites, agricultural areas, energy facilities, city centers and many others.

Top Physical Security Trends and Why They Matter

Physical security should be just as high a priority as cybersecurity. Digital protections are vital these days, but the stakes are even greater when there are bodies on the line.

When it comes to trends shaping 2020 and beyond, consider the physical security examples above. 

Kayla Matthews writes about cybersecurity and technology for publications like Malwarebytes, Security Boulevard, InformationWeek and CloudTweaks. To read more from Kayla, visit her blog: ProductivityBytes.com.