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Physical Security and Cyber Threat Intelligence Converge for Enhanced Public Safety

4 minute read

What is Physical Security and How Does it Impact My Business?

Physical security encompasses real-world threats that have broad implications for public safety. These events encompass mass casualty events, shootings, violence, hostage situations, natural and technological disasters, protests (peaceful and violent), and disruptive travel-related incidents such as weather, infrastructure damage and accidents. Chief Security Officers have the daunting task of protecting their assets from geopolitical events, high impact incidents, technological issues and other disruptive events. CSOs require real-time notification of incidents, including acts of violence, large public demonstrations, weather events, crime, technological disasters, fires, health and other public safety events. Whether in direct proximity to an enterprises’ assets or the nearby area, any one of these events impacts business operations. 

Such events have costly consequences on the operations of businesses and governments. They also put employees and other organization stakeholders at risk. For example, suppose there is a significant police presence preventing access to a facility such as an airport. In this case, physical security intelligence would help an executive understand the impact on immediate travel plans and any business operations dependent on normal airport functions, and take avoidance actions. That is, if the organization receives the warning in time…a BIG ‘if’.

Harnessing Crowd-sourced Cyber Intelligence

We often hear stories of security, government or other officials or persons who should be ‘in the know’ stating they found out about an event during or after the fact the same way we all do – via breaking news or a social post. Crowd-sourced or citizen-based reporting holds great power for corporate security teams who crave real-time situational awareness. The challenge is finding an effective way to capture, analyze, filter and deliver this intelligence to those who need it – in time to do good.

Corporate operations and security teams are turning to technology to help them achieve their corporate safety responsibilities. Technology that collects and analyzes the vast amounts of social posts and cyber data, provides real-time alerting of disruptive events occurring within a radius of their corporate assets, executives’ and suppliers’ locations and provides the situational awareness to detect and protect against relevant threats has become a must-have to meet corporate security objectives. This intelligence allows facility managers and operations teams to determine the functional impact on their business operations and response measures necessary for business continuity. Unfortunately, cyber intelligence alone can be subject to much noise – so there is a need for expert threat analysts who can vett the information to ensure its accuracy and relevance.

However, building an in-house Physical Security Operations Center (PSOC) and alerting system is out of reach for many organizations due to the cost, staffing and complexity in maintaining it. The additional challenge is collecting voluminous information from widely disparate sources and collating it into actionable intelligence that on the ground teams can utilize for real-time decision support. When overwhelmed teams look to address these challenges, it’s a good idea to leverage existing resources already available and vetted, and not to go it alone.

Solving the Physical Security Analysis and Dissemination Challenge

As the business world resumes travel, employees, particularly high-profile executives, become susceptible to disruptive physical security events. In the case of an event involving a shooting, if the incident takes place in proximity to a workplace or intended travel destination, corporate security and HR personnel would want to be notified immediately. Information on how the scene is evolving — escalating with police presence or de-escalating with the departure of police presence — becomes critical and provides decision support and ability to properly advise.

However, securing workplace environments and managing the security of these locations with a limited amount of security personnel on-site is challenging. The security implications of public health or safety events are high in terms of their effect on employees and assets, and yet can be managed via a more streamlined approach to intelligence processing. Leveraging the power and the real-time, on-the-spot (and even prognostic) nature of social posts combined with local weather, police, and emergency response reporting, provides trained analysts with valuable intelligence that is relevant and timely.  With a scaled and efficient operation, analysts can vett and prioritize this information as it is received, and provide immediate notification to impacted individuals and organizations.

Enterprises and governments who are seeking to enhance their situational awareness of physical security events should look to outsource providers who can:

  1. monitor public safety issues globally 24X7, with experts trained in both physical and cyber security
  2. determine the relevance and likely impact of the event to their people and assets, and 
  3. get the information quickly to on-the-ground teams or at-risk individuals 

Performing these tasks comprehensively and cost-effectively allows in-house teams to focus on appropriate alert communications and response – to avoid damage, sustain operations, and protect key assets and people from harm.

Expert Level Physical Security Intelligence 

It’s possible to supplement your current critical event warning system with an external threat intelligence provider that possesses the cyber intelligence collection scale and subject matter expertise in physical security. ZeroFox provides this to hundreds of businesses and governments with real-time event notifications using publicly available sources. Our dedicated SOC operates 24X7, 365 days a year and complements in-house teams with.  

  1. Expertise: Our analysts are experts in sourcing, researching and providing context to alerts generated. The level of research they conduct includes penetrating forums that are difficult to access, live streaming services, news channels, social media forums worldwide.
  2. Global Coverage: Our analysts are multilingual, which is an advantage when sourcing information globally.
  3. High Fidelity, Relevant Alerts: Analysts provide context to the event such as an address, date, time and other details. Alerts are customized to organizations based on incident type and locations. 

The result is more relevant alerts that can be distributed through the ZeroFox Platform, email, mobile app, API and integrated with your existing alerting system. 

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