Security has always been one of the biggest headaches for enterprises in their digitization journey. Despite heavy investments in cyber-security, organizations still have security vulnerabilities and face major cyber-security threats. This was evident in the recent large-scale ransomware attack, “WannaCry”, earlier this year. Cyber-security attacks are rising in number and sophistication, which is a direct result of the increased complexity of ICT systems and hence the difficulty of safeguarding these. To make things worse, there are a large number of systems that must be secured from physical security threats as well, on top of cyber-protection. This is the case for most of the critical infrastructures that underpin our society, which comprise of many physical systems and devices, in addition to ICT platforms. Security solutions, therefore, need to address both physical security and cyber-security vulnerabilities. Hence, the security community is now discussing the convergence of physical and cyber security solutions. Digital transformation managers, security experts and C-level executives must understand the rationale of this convergence, along with possible solutions. This would allow them to save time and costs in their effort to secure the critical infrastructures that they own or operate.
The convergence of cyber and physical security is propelled by the following factors:
The need for integrated security exists in many systems and applications in a variety of sectors. However, Industrial applications and critical infrastructures are leading the way here, as a result of their cyber-physical nature. Overall, integrated security is needed in all cases where infrastructures can be considered as large-scale CPS systems. Prominent examples are found in the following sectors:
In several of the above listed critical infrastructures the benefits of integrated security are obvious. However, the implementation of an integrated approach can be very challenging. This is not just due to the technical integration barriers, but also due to the diverse background of people working on physical and cyber security. In order to cope with these challenges, effort should be allocated on the following tasks:
There is a clear value proposition in taking a holistic approach to cyber and physical security. Integrated security is certainly more relevant to organizations that are deploying many CPS systems as compared to organizations that are operating in the cyber space only. In all cases a smooth migration path that takes into account technological and cultural diversity within the organization should be considered. An effective handshake between these two aspects of security of an enterprise is the ideal solution.
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