The physical security industry has traditionally been conservative when it comes to adopting new technology. The slow move to modernise meant that the security industry was not top of mind for candidates seeking to build careers in ‘exciting’ fields where technology is seen to be driving innovation.
Since then, massive pandemic-driven changes in the threat landscape and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) have accelerated the digital transformation of the physical security industry at an unprecedented pace.
Cybersecurity, cloud migration, AI, machine learning, and analytics have become an integral part of the physical security ecosystem. Yet, the perception that the industry is slow to innovate remains, leading to a skill and talent shortage.
As security and IT converge, the physical security industry presents significant career opportunities for technology professionals seeking interesting, meaningful, and financially rewarding work.
Protecting against cyber threats
Today, physical security deployments are rich with IoT devices such as cameras and sensors. These devices have benefited organisations’ ability to improve security and monitor activities in large, distributed spaces.
However, with the benefits of connectivity, accessibility, mobility, and data sharing comes added cybersecurity vulnerability. Devices such as video surveillance cameras, access control readers and alarm panels can provide an entry point to gain access to networks of large and small enterprises.
Securing these devices and implementing new strategies for managing access to them is paramount. Companies are increasingly recognising the importance of proactively protecting against cyber threats and the potential vulnerability of their IoT devices. To mitigate these threats, organisations need to recruit professionals who possess both risk-mitigation and IT skills.
Making sense of data
With the proliferation of physical security IoT devices, organisations now have access to a goldmine of data collected by surveillance cameras, video management systems (VMS), access control systems (ACS), automated number plate readers (ANPR), intrusion systems and other connected physical security devices.
With the rise of data analytics, physical security system data can be used as more than just a tool to respond to crime or a necessary expense to keep assets and people safe.
In fact, a recent Genetec survey of 3,700 physical security leaders worldwide showed that almost two-thirds (63%) of all respondents and 7 in every 10 organisations with over 10,000 employees described physical security and related data as “mission-critical”.
Managing this mission-critical data requires individuals who understand that physical security has become a strategic asset to cope with a variety of challenges that go beyond just mitigating risk. They need to have the skillset to play a significant role in their organisations’ digital transformation.
Leveraging the cloud
Cloud readiness is also a hot button for many organisations. Hence it has become critical for physical security professionals to understand how cloud-based solutions can be used to better utilise resources to achieve business goals, while minimising overall operational complexity.
IBM Global Security Technology Lead Steve Riley, noted, “We’ve recently integrated more specialised IT expertise into our physical security department. This has been quite essential for us to move toward a more global hybrid-cloud environment.
Our own IT teams have also been incorporated into our technology or physical security teams. They’ve played a pivotal role in how we architecturally delivery our solutions globally. That includes building resilient networks and ensuring we capitalise on all the cutting-edge features with edge technology, operating systems, applications, and hardware.
These skills are increasingly in demand with IBM.”
Roles are in demand
In the 2021 Security Benchmark Report, security leaders across all sectors identified staffing as one of the top 10 critical issues facing the industry. According to ISACA’s latest State of Cybersecurity Report, 63% of enterprises have unfilled cybersecurity positions while labour shortages in the UK have become particularly acute.
While there are currently about 339 000 cyber professionals in the UK (up 13 percent year-on-year), there is still a shortfall of 56 811 workers (up 70% year-on-year).
Aside from a global shortage in cybersecurity roles, talent to fill more traditional physical security roles is also in short supply. These roles offer attractive paths to leadership and provide a wealth of training and educational opportunities.
Learning continues throughout this career and can include fire safety, terrorism awareness, emergency planning, evacuation procedures and more, as well as industry-specific training geared to the industry sector served.
Be part of it
Physical security is an important and meaningful career that can make a significant difference in protecting people, property, and information from threats. Whether they are designing hardware and software, or selling and installing systems, the new generation of physical security professionals will need to be knowledgeable technologists in addition to their traditional security responsibilities.
As the physical security industry continues to evolve, it will require a diverse workforce populated by multifaceted individuals with varied backgrounds who can demonstrate the strategic acumen, technical knowledge, and analytical skills that are required to lead the physical security industry into the future and create a safer world for all of us.