This article was originally featured in IFSEC Global
The convergence of cyber and physical security functions reflects the increasing interplay of digital systems and the physical world, and the growing consensus that a gap in one realm leaves the other exposed.
But silos between the two security functions continue to exist. In some cases, it’s for those that oversee cyber security to understand the need to share information and coordinate with physical security professionals responsible for facility access control, protection of assets, etc.
And for both security functions – physical and cyber – it may also come down to cost: each department has a budget to meet and may fear collaboration could lead to competition for already-limited resources.
When security experts discuss cyber-physical convergence, they reference a few well-known incidents in which an external actor remotely manipulates an internet connected system to impact the physical world, such as the Colonial Pipeline attacks of 2021 that impacted fuel supplies in the south-eastern United States, or the infamous take-down of the Ukrainian electrical grid in 2015.
These incidents are eye-opening. But they can also give the false impression that the cyber-physical convergence sits firmly in the domain of the IT team. In cases like the Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack, there’s very little role for a physical security team. The attack vector is purely the domain of the cyber realm. These commonly cited cyber-physical threat scenarios carried out by malicious external actors can also obscure the risk posed by current and former employees that may have been trustworthy but eventually pose a threat to the organization from insider threats.