SIS Blog

Why It’s Essential to Prioritize Physical Security in a Digital World

by | Nov 16, 2023

In our time advising and partnering with government organizations over the decades, we have observed how budgets have shifted to embrace both the possibilities of digital innovation and the challenges of digital security. Advances in the fields of AI, smart cities, and the growing Internet of Things continue to shape how security professionals think about, plan for, and prepare for the future.

But as organizations focus on where digital security might take them next, the challenge of securing physical assets remains very real. A wise security strategy should encompass both the digital and physical realms, especially because the two are now more connected than ever.

You can think about digital and physical security as an intricate spider web of interlocking strands: disturb one part of the web, and the vibrations ripple out to all the other strands. Everything is connected to everything else.

The Threat of Broken Connections

Consider, for example, how a cyber attack can be used to disable systems and facilitate a physical attack, or, conversely, how a physical breach can be used to access digital assets. If an adversary hacks into your systems and brings down the cameras, for instance, that digital attack can lead to consequences in the physical world, allowing anyone to slip past the monitors as your race to put everything back online. An attack’s origins may be digital, but when its repercussions play out in the physical world, affecting everything from your access control systems to alarms, you had better be ready for it.

This example illustrates the hybrid nature of today’s security challenges, and underscores why physical security is still the backbone of a comprehensive security strategy. Physical security remains one of the best ways to protect buildings, facilities, critical infrastructure, and people.

When it comes to physical security, today’s top alarm monitoring software can help you manage a multitude of signals from hundreds of devices across your facilities, bases, labs, warehouses, offices, and other critical infrastructure, so you can protect all the physical assets and people in your care.

Alarm monitoring can streamline and supercharge your security operations in powerful ways, including:

  • Real-time alerts. Automatically push real-time alerts to security personnel in the event of a physical intrusion, fire, or other emergency. Such alerts can empower them to respond rapidly, minimize damage, and ensure the safety of people and assets on-site. Whether your system picks up on suspicious activity or an intrusion, automatic alerts can send your security team into action or even trigger an automated sequence of responses from a distance.
  • Integration with legacy and modern systems. Today’s alarm monitoring solutions can integrate with your existing systems, including access control, fire alarms, CCTV surveillance, IT network monitoring, life/safety systems, biometric authentication, and more, creating an interconnected security ecosystem. Good alarm monitoring software should be flexible enough to work both with your legacy systems and any emerging technologies you decide to integrate later.
  • A centralized dashboard. Instantaneously monitor, record, and respond to data from hundreds of on-the-ground inputs; this means you never have to keep switching between monitors, screens, software, or dashboards. Whether it’s your fire, burglary, panic, medical, or environmental systems, you should be able to monitor and act on them all from one place.
  • 24/7 monitoring. Your alarm monitoring solution never stops working for you: with 24/7 observation, detection, and nonstop monitoring–plus the benefit of automated, real-time alerts–you never have to worry about missing key developments on the ground.
  • Protection for both physical and digital assets. Protect a vast network of physical assets ranging from equipment, transport facilities, critical infrastructure, offices, bases, and more. You can also protect remotely-controlled technology systems that are susceptible to malicious attacks. 

The Benefits of Alarm Monitoring Operations

Government organizations can benefit tremendously from using alarm monitoring operations to enhance physical security and preparedness. In fact, some of the reasons that our clients, including the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State, choose to invest in alarm monitoring is because of the unparalleled benefits they get in return. These include:

  • Reduced response times. Features like an easy-to-use operator interface, automated signal handling, and automated alerts allow government organizations to swiftly prioritize, respond to, and report on a variety of security incidents.
  • Improved situational awareness. With hundreds of systems and sensors all feeding data to a centralized dashboard, it’s easy to get a 360-degree view of your security posture at any point in time. Good alarm monitoring software also gives you the ability to bring together a multitude of data points to uncover correlations between seemingly disparate events.
  • An enhanced overall security posture. Faster response times, greater situational awareness, and a wide-eyed view of everything happening inside your physical perimeters, all at once: that’s the power of alarm monitoring software. 

How to Make the Most of Your Alarm Monitoring Solution

To get the most out of your alarm monitoring solution, you need to regularly maintain systems and infrastructure, work to minimize false alarms, and ensure that all systems are integrated and working as one. A good system can do a lot for you–but you also need to do a lot for it, in return. As a good baseline, you should:

  • Ensure all your systems are completely integrated. As the threats you face evolve, so do the security systems you may choose to bring onboard. If you started with a standard alarm system years ago but have found yourself adding various applications or devices over the years, you may have a tangled web of security solutions…and way too many tabs open. Insist on streamlining every system you monitor, whether it’s video, access control systems, temperature and pressure sensors, or computer networks. To get the most out of your alarm monitoring software, make sure everything is integrated from the start.
  • Work to minimize false alarms. False alarms can add chaos and confusion to your security operation, and drain valuable staff time and resources–not to mention desensitize your people to the threat of real incidents in the future. False alarms can be the result of everything from turbulent weather conditions to moving objects that aren’t a threat (like animals or vehicles) to power outages or interruptions. To minimize the risk of false alarms, be sure to regularly inspect and maintain equipment, including surge suppressors and batteries. Look for misaligned sensors and malfunctioning equipment during regular inspections. Finally, be sure you regularly train your team and relevant staff on how to use key components of your alarm system.
  • Regularly maintain and update your systems. Physical security is vulnerable to physical problems just like anything else–whether it’s power surges, failing batteries, damaged components, or misaligned sensors. To keep your systems in top condition, schedule regular inspections and perform any necessary updates on schedule.

How to Select the Right Alarm Monitoring Solution

Are you interested in finding the right alarm monitoring solution for your government organization? If so, keep in mind that the best solutions should offer, at minimum, all of the benefits above. But government entities should beware: there are security considerations you have to make when choosing the right security software.

Crucially, any security solution you choose should be approved for use on government networks and computers. Ask whether your chosen alarm monitoring software has received and maintains an Authority to Operate (ATO) on U.S. government networks. The right testing and certifications are also key: has the software passed stringent testing requirements, like the Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP)? Does it comply with Assured Compliance Assessment Solution (ACAS)? Is it UL & ULC Classified for central station automation systems? All of these are essential questions to ask when choosing the right alarm monitoring solution.

We invite you to consider SIS Alarm Center, which not only meets all the security requirements above but is also a government partner of choice for multiple federal and military agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and countless governmental entities across the nation and beyond.

Even in a digital world, physical security is still everything. And SIS Alarm Center is the trusted choice for it all. Please contact us to try Alarm Center today, and see the difference it can make.


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