Physical and network security merging?

Monday, 9 September 2002, 9:41 AM EST

Two years ago, if you were the head of security for an organization, it meant one of two things. Either you were trying to prevent people with guns from walking through the front door, or you were watching your computer networks like a hawk, maintaining firewalls and patching software to ward off hackers. If you were in charge of the physical side, you were barely aware of the network security side. Let's face it, security guards weren't trained to install antivirus software, and the IS guys didn't know much more about controlling building access.

Well, the wall that separates physical and information security is crumbling—fast. At corporations and government agencies nationwide, security leaders are abandoning the fragmented, compartmentalized approach of the past and creating a unified, coordinated program of protecting buildings, people and networks. Executive-level security positions are popping up with increasing frequency as oversight of both IT and physical security is merging into one discipline. And for good reason: Many companies can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their security strategy by combining the two sides. They can also save money by eliminating redundancy in resources and budget requirements. There's no need to spend thousands of dollars to set up a smart card building access system if your IT group already has the wiring and bandwidth in place for another project.

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