Why are physical access controls central to security in the increasingly digital world?

Why are physical access controls central to security in the increasingly digital world?

Hacks and security breaches have filled our news feeds and TV screens over the past couple of years. Businesses are repeatedly warned about the perils of not having adequate digital security in place and how this can have disastrous consequences. What is often overlooked is the role that physical access controls have to play in ensuring digital security. With out this, any digital measures could be undone in a matter of minutes.

The combined role of physical and digital security

“Physical security is often a second thought when it comes to information security. Since physical security has technical and administrative elements, it is often overlooked because most organisations focus on “technology-oriented security countermeasures” (Harris, 2013) This is a scenario that many enterprises today will recognise. As the requirements to protect data and keep intruders from accessing networks become more stringent, no business can afford to ignore the role that physical security has to play. Physical access controls are designed to minimise risks to physical hardware and the issues that could arise from unauthorised access to something like a server room. In particular they can help to protect against:

  • Sabotage and vandalism, whether that is carried out by a third party or by someone within the business.
  • Hacking and security breach. It’s not just in the online world that networks can be breached by third parties – any hardware on site is also potentially vulnerable unless physical access controls are in place.
  • Staff dishonesty. Most workforces are largely honest but it is not worth the risk to allow everyone access to mission critical data within the business. Access controls can help to ensure that only those who need access actually have it and provide additional protection in difficult situations, such as staff dismissal or strikes.
  • Natural disaster. Physical access control may be necessary if certain parts of the building have specific protections in place against something like fire or flood that would be useless if a door was left open or an area not properly secured.

What physical access control measures are available?

The options vary from simple door locks through to fencing and surveillance cameras. There are three key elements to consider.


Controlling who goes into and out of areas where there is sensitive data or vulnerable hardware is crucial to ensuring high levels of security. From swipe cards through to biometric systems for exit and entry, a range of options are available.


There are many benefits to having CCTV in place, including as a deterrent and to keep track of any incidents that do take place. In the context of access control it can be used to track, monitor and enable access to key areas.


If something happens to physical premises then hardware could be left vulnerable as a result. So, any physical access control also needs to include contingency planning for such a situation.

We offer high quality solutions to the need for physical access control in this increasingly digital age – contact us to find out more.

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