Traditionally, the roles of digital and physical security in organizations have been kept separate and distinct.

Physical security systems, including analog CCTV video surveillance and access control, were the responsibility of facilities management and security teams. In the digital realm, IT was responsible for securing the network and protecting against cyberattacks.

This convenient difference is now blurring. IT’s role is shifting dramatically as organizations have moved from analog to IP-based video surveillance, along with the massive growth of connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). Now, IT departments must understand how the convergence of IoT and physical security broadly affects their healthcare organizations, and how it can support opportunities for growth.

IT’s influence on purchases and deployments of video surveillance is a relatively new phenomenon. Deployed IP-based video has broad implications for network infrastructure requirements, bandwidth usage and data storage consumption. For example, the security and loss prevention departments at a national retailer might introduce the management of tens of thousands of IoT-based devices; in schools or other kinds of operations that seek to monitor the movements of individuals, it might be thousands of devices.

Because these devices transmit sensitive information, they are vulnerable targets for hackers. IT needs to take steps to protect these network-based edge devices against cyberattacks and ensure data is transmitted securely from the edge to core. In addition, IT needs to collaborate closely with those departments responsible for physical security and facilities management to protect against physical tampering or sabotage of the devices.

Healthcare organizations face security threats from inside and out. Most data breaches are a result of simple mistakes or poor deployment of security systems. Healthcare organizations need to secure the network and encrypt data to protect against remote hackers. They also need to guard against corporate espionage and insider threats that can be perpetrated by an unauthorized person gaining access to a server room, for example.

Here are some of the potential threats and opportunities that IoT creates, along with what IT’s role will be in helping protect the network against those threats.

Helping the business implement IoT initiatives wisely. Many organizations believe that IoT offers the opportunity to enable greater collaboration between employees, enhance security and even increase employee performance. Healthcare organizations will need to mitigate the risks to these devices and sensors from both physical and cyber threats. It will take close collaboration between IT, security professionals and other business units to carefully plan for the deployment of these IoT initiatives in a way that keeps data more secure and optimizes bandwidth and data storage requirements.

Establishing policies around employees and their own IoT devices. Many employees bring their own smartwatches and fitness trackers to the workplace and connect them to the network. These devices—together with other smart devices such as phones, tablets and laptops—are vulnerable to being compromised, resulting in a potential loss of data. To protect the network, IT is responsible for establishing a policy that manages the use of these IoT devices in the workplace. IT departments will also need to work closely with security teams to ensure guests and visitors aren’t connecting their own IoT devices to the corporate network.

Assisting law enforcement following an incident. A speedy response is essential in the case of a fire, sabotage, burglary or some other criminal incident. Embedded, connected devices in a building such as smoke detectors, alarm systems, audio devices, gas sensors, access control panels and surveillance cameras may provide data used for forensic purposes or investigation a threat. IT will need to work closely with security teams and law enforcement to retrieve the necessary data and help the organization respond appropriately.

Given all of these advancements in IoT-based physical security and its impact on the corporate network, there are exciting opportunities for IT departments to shape the direction of their organization’s IoT strategy.

IT will never replace the physical security or facilities management teams. But IT’s involvement in supporting security technology implementations has grown in recent years, and IoT is accelerating this trend.

Now is the time for IT organizations to plan ahead for this inevitable collision between IoT and physical security, and think about how they can best support their organization’s business and security initiatives.

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