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Protecting Against Physical Security Threats

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In our rapidly evolving digital landscape, the heightened focus on cyber security is undeniable. Yet, one pivotal aspect that often gets overshadowed is physical security. The importance of shielding the workspace against physical threats is equally as critical as safeguarding it from digital breaches.

As per IBM’s 2023 Cost of Data Breach Report, the average financial impact of a data breach stemming from a physical security compromise stands at a staggering $4.10 million, underscoring the need for robust physical security measures.

This blog post delves into valuable insights and strategies to fortify your workplace against potential risks.

What Is Physical Security, and Why Is It Important?

Physical security pertains to the protection of vital data, confidential information, networks, software, equipment, facilities, assets, and personnel from damage or unauthorised access. Physical security breaches can be carried out with little or no technical knowledge, and even low-tech tactics can result in major breaches and theft. According to a report by IBM, the average time to identify and contain a data breach resulting from a physical security compromise is 267 days.

Physical Security Threats

Without appropriate protection measures in place, organisations are vulnerable to physical security threats. It vital for employees to understand the risks related to physical security, and how they can all help to protect against intruders, internal threats and cyber attacks.


Tailgating, also known as piggybacking, is a type of cyber attack where fraudsters follow authorised personnel into a restricted area of an organisation. Once inside, they attempt to steal assets, including devices and sensitive data, or install spyware onto devices.

Tailgating perpetrators can be ex-employees harbouring resentment or strangers with malicious intent. To prevent tailgating within your organisation, adopt these best practices:

  1. Never permit anyone to tailgate you into the workplace, especially in restricted areas.
  2. Be confident enough to ask or challenge suspicious individuals for their credentials.
  3. Be cautious around third parties, delivery drivers and other outsiders, as they could be potential hackers.
  4. Report any suspicious individuals to the relevant personnel.

Theft of Documents

Most organisations tend to have documents scattered across various areas, from desks to communal spaces. These documents can easily get misplaced and fall into the wrong hands. One of the best ways to avert document theft is to maintain a clear desk, ensuring all documents are stored and locked away securely.

Office printing stations can also provide unauthorised parties with easy access to sensitive data. The Quocirca Print Security Landscape 2023 highlights this risk by revealing that in the past year, 61% of organisations experienced a print-related data loss. To mitigate such risks, staff should dispatch printing tasks only when they are ready to retrieve them promptly from the printer tray.

Theft of Organisational Devices

Organisational devices, such as laptops, mobile phones and external hard drives, are prone to theft if left unattended. The theft of these devices can lead to serious repercussions, including data loss, financial loss and reputational damage. To secure your devices properly, ensure you:

  1. Lock your devices when not in use.
  2. Password protect all your devices.
  3. Store all removable computer media securely.
  4. Never leave your devices unattended in public spaces.

Theft of Identification

An access control system is only effective if everyone uses their unique identification. Sharing access controls should be avoided, as this can expose the organisation to security risks. Protect your IDs or access cards as these physical security measures can unfortunately be easily overcome by a determined attacker.


Physical security is an important consideration when protecting against a range of threats and vulnerabilities, including tailgating, theft of documents, theft of devices and theft of identification. When staff are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to potential physical security threats, they can take an active stance against security breaches and prevent hackers from gaining access to the organisation’s assets and sensitive information.

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