Contributed by April Miller, Senior Writer for

A cyber-physical security strategy combines the best of both worlds, integrating physical and digital solutions for increased effectiveness. Businesses face all sorts of threats today and it can be challenging to keep up with them all at once.

Yet, when you incorporate holistic solutions into your security program, you’re more likely to keep your organization safe from a wide range of attacks.

Security from a holistic view

Today, few businesses are running without cyber-physical security. As technology evolves and criminals become more sophisticated, companies must re-examine their strategies regularly. However, security isn’t only about locks and alarms or protecting the hardware and software of your company — it’s about protecting your organization’s people, assets and the environment.

While the physical and digital aspects of security have a language of their own, taking a holistic approach can increase protection for your organization with a well-rounded set of solutions. Here’s a closer look at how cyber and physical security work together.

How physical and cyber security coordinate

Companies typically treat physical security — such as security personnel, surveillance and access control — as siloed functions. Many businesses don’t have any regard for how IT systems and data connect to the physical side of security.

As more applications and systems move to the cloud, it becomes possible to achieve compliance by integrating a cyber and physical security strategy. By converging the two, you employ measures that secure spaces by restricting access.

For instance, physical security works with cyber security by limiting unauthorized access to spaces where companies store their data and vice versa. On the other hand, physical security now uses smart devices that connect to the internet. These include video surveillance, smartphones and RFID key cards — which are common targets among cyber criminals.

Additionally, cyber security protects sensitive data that physical systems contain. Integrating the physical and digital side of security addresses the overlap of these components and treats them as one instead of separate entities.

To provide the best protection, organizations must adopt an integrated approach to cyber-physical security. In other words, physical and cyber security should not be mutually exclusive. Instead, you should think of it as a whole, where physical and cyber security teams can work together to understand the risks and how each affects business continuity.

Tips for integrating physical and cyber security

Now that you know how cyber and physical security work together, you can use these tips to integrate them and achieve a higher level of protection.

1. Foster new connections between IT and physical security teams

Connecting the IT and physical security departments is key to securing a company. Though they have different responsibilities, the two groups have much in common. They both focus on risk management, need a good understanding of technical systems and infrastructure, track assets used by employees and visitors — and much more.

By working together, you can ensure your organization’s information technology systems are secure while implementing appropriate security measures against unauthorized access at a given facility. For example, stationing physical security staff around a building is often a good first step for security, but IT teams can then implement people trackers and other security measures to best optimize where the staff should be located. Building connections between the two teams can allow all security assets to be used to the greatest effect.

2. List your threats

Consider all of the weak points in your organization that are vulnerable to criminals. For instance, do you have a remote team that can access your network? Maybe you have smart devices connected to the internet — also known as IoT (Internet of Things). Work with your teams to list all possible threats and ensure you create a plan to keep them secure.

3. Make a plan for every scenario

If someone were to break into your server room, how would you handle it? Ensure you devise scenarios and plans of action for each.

4. Train your staff

Your physical and cyber security teams should offer their expertise in training your staff. Every team member needs to be aware of potential attacks and errors that can be a gateway for them. Remember that training should be up-to-date and constant — your team should know about the latest trends as cyber threats evolve.

5. Backup everything

Backups are crucial to protecting data from ransomware attacks. They give you a copy of your sensitive information if someone tries stealing it. But when it comes to backups, you should know when and who is backing up the data to ensure it is consistent.

Implement cyber-physical security within your organization

Cyber and physical security go hand in hand. Organizations can better protect themselves from threats by understanding how these two security branches coordinate. Consider assessing your weaknesses and work with your two teams to integrate a successful cyber-physical security plan.

For more insights from Senior Editor of, April Miller, please see’s past coverage. Lastly, to receive more timely cyber security news, insights and cutting-edge analyses, please sign up for the newsletter.