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Chapter: Information Security : Physical Design

Information Physical Security

Physical security addresses design, implementation, and maintenance of countermeasures that protect physical resources of an organization.





Physical security addresses design, implementation, and maintenance of countermeasures that protect physical resources of an organization.


Most controls can be circumvented if attacker gains physical access


Physical security is as important as logical security


Seven major sources of physical loss


Extreme temperature






Living organisms






Energy anomalies


Community roles



General management: responsible for facility security


IT management and professionals: responsible for environmental and access security


Information security management and professionals: perform risk assessments and implementation reviews



Physical Access Controls

Secure facility: physical location engineered with controls designed to minimize risk of attacks from physical threats


Secure facility can take advantage of natural terrain, traffic flow, and degree of urban development; can complement these with protection mechanisms (fences, gates, walls, guards, alarms)


1 Controls for Protecting the Secure Facility


Walls, fencing, and gates






ID Cards and badges


Locks and keys




Electronic monitoring


Alarms and alarm systems


Computer rooms and wiring closets


Interior walls and doors


2 ID Cards and Badges

 Ties physical security with information access control


ID card is typically concealed


Name badge is visible


Serve as simple form of biometrics (facial recognition)


Should not be only means of control as cards can be easily duplicated, stolen, and modified


Tailgating occurs when unauthorized individual follows authorized user through the control


3 Locks and Keys


Two types of locks: mechanical and electromechanical


Locks can also be divided into four categories: manual, programmable, electronic, biometric


Locks fail and alternative procedures for controlling access must be put in place


Locks fail in one of two ways


Fail-safe lock


Fail-secure lock


4 Mantraps


Small enclosure that has entry point and different exit point


Individual enters mantrap, requests access, and if verified, is allowed to exit mantrap into facility


Individual denied entry is not allowed to exit until security official overrides automatic locks of the enclosure 



5 Electronic Monitoring


Records events where oth er types of physical controls are impractical or incomplete


May use cameras with vi deo recorders; includes closed-circuit television (CCT) systems




Reactive; do not p revent access or prohibited activity


Recordings often not monitored in real time; must be reviewed to have any value


Alarms and Alarm Syste ms


Alarm systems notify when an event occurs


Detect fire, intrusion, env ironmental disturbance, or an interruption in se rvices


Rely on sensors that d etect event; e.g., motion detectors, smoke d etectors, thermal detectors, glass breakage detectors, weight sensors, contact sensors, vibr ation sensors


6 Computer Rooms and  Wiring Closets


ü Require special attenti on to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information


ü Logical controls easily d efeated if attacker gains physical access to comp uting equipment



Custodial staff often the least scrutinized persons who have access to offices; are given greatest degree of unsupervised access



7 Interior Walls and Doors


Information asset security sometimes compromised by construction of facility walls and doors


Facility walls typically either standard interior or firewall


High-security areas must have firewall-grade walls to provide physical security from potential intruders and improve resistance to fires


Doors allowing access to high security rooms should be evaluated


Recommended that push or crash bars be installed on computer rooms and closets


8 Fire Security and Safety

Most serious threat to safety of people who work in an organization is possibility of fire


Fires account for more property damage, personal injury, and death than any other threat


Imperative that physical security plans examine and implement strong measures to detect and respond to fires


9 Fire Detection and Response


Fire suppression systems: devices installed and maintained to detect and respond to a fire


Deny an environment of heat, fuel, or oxygen


Water and water mist systems


Carbon dioxide systems


Soda acid systems


Gas-based systems


10 Fire Detection


Fire detection systems fall into two general categories: manual and automatic


Part of a complete fire safety program includes individuals that monitor chaos of fire evacuation to prevent an attacker accessing offices


There are three basic types of fire detection systems: thermal detection, smoke detection, flame detection


11 Fire Suppression


Systems consist of portable, manual, or automatic apparatus


Portable extinguishers are rated by the type of fire: Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D


Installed systems apply suppressive agents; usually either sprinkler or gaseous systems


Power Management and Conditioning


Electrical quantity (voltage level; amperage rating) is a concern, as is quality of power (cleanliness; proper installation)


Noise that interferes with the normal 60 Hertz cycle can result in inaccurate time clocks or unreliable internal clocks inside CPU


Grounding ensures that returning flow of current is properly discharged to ground


Overloading a circuit causes problems with circuit tripping and can overload electrical cable, increasing risk of fire


Inventory Management


Computing equipment should be inventoried and inspected on a regular basis


Classified information should also be inventoried and managed


Physical security of computing equipment, data storage media and classified documents varies for each organization


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Information Security : Physical Design : Information Physical Security |

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