Tyco talks cyber and physical warehouse security challenges
Paul Berry, Director, Distribution and Logistics Sector – Tyco Integrated Fire & Security, offers his thoughts on the security challenges that a more connected world is bringing to today’s fast moving warehouse operations.
Over the past decade, the concept of ‘perimeter security’ for warehouses has evolved. Although the physical boundaries of a warehouse must still be defended, many critical processes across the supply chain now have a connected presence, leaving them open to attack from both cyber criminals and on-the-ground thieves. The perimeter is now limitless – any connected camera or access management system which operates via the internet can be hacked and turned against the owner. On top of that, many physical processes such as surveillance and access management are now increasingly being managed from a central control facility with responsibility for multiple sites – which may not even be on the same continent as the warehouse being protected. As such, vulnerable connections between security systems can pose a threat far greater than the compromise of one building – if a hacker uses a hacked camera to access the central control room, it could lead to catastrophic ripple effects elsewhere.
Access control will always be at the heart of the warehouse manager’s security function: keeping unwanted people out of certain areas or entire buildings is essential to an effective defence. But with this merging of physical and digital spheres, that task is currently undergoing a process of transformation, as the rise of IP-enabled security devices provides a raft of new capabilities to warehouse managers, including data collection and analysis, linkage with other in-house security systems and consolidated administration.
In this new landscape, warehouse managers can increase their efficiency and the effectiveness of their systems through a combination of innovative products and integration, connecting devices and processes which before were isolated or watched over by a single operator. Managers need to take notice of the possibilities of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and integrate their systems to get a single view over the movements of people throughout their facilities. IoT-enabled cameras, scanners and gates can be programmed to grant access only to authorised people or only at specific times – for example, if a delivery driver arrives during his usual delivery time-slot he will be granted access, but if he arrives late in the evening, the system will bar entry.
But when evaluating security products before implementation, it is essential that managers are cyber savvy when it comes to how digital security is built into physical products. When constructing security systems, no matter the facility or size, it is critical to understand how the physical components, such as cameras and video management systems, fit in within those network architectures, all without introducing new vulnerabilities.
Ultimately, it must be noted that cybersecurity is not static. While keeping physical threats from entering the warehouse or sabotaging the supply chain has long been a priority, a key focus should be managing the vulnerabilities and exploits that are uncovered every day. A successful warehouse manager needs to make sure that they are ahead of the curve with connected technology. With IoT-enabled access control, warehouse managers have the opportunity to gain a crucial upper hand in the defence process. It’s essential to take the opportunity to upgrade and upskill now, and take advantage of the new possibilities on offer – or risk being outdated and outmanoeuvred.