Is Policy-Based Access Control and Zero Trust the Future of Physical Security?

May 18, 2023

An image of a robot hand pointing at a white security icon.

Policy-based access control (PBAC) has proved too complex for most physical access control systems (PACs) – until now. As organizations across industries face evolving security threats and more complicated hybrid work schedules for every type of employee, PBAC just might be the Zero Trust physical security solution we’ve all been waiting for.

Increase in physical security events

In a survey by Pro-Vigil, 20% of respondents indicated a higher number of physical security incidents in 2020 than the year prior. A third of the 124 business operations leaders who participated expected another increase in 2021.

And physical security threats put more than physical and intellectual property in danger. In addition to concerns over shoring up physical access to servers, 69% of respondents feared irreversible damage to both company finances and reputation in the event of security-related fatality.

24/7 access is a problem

One glaring gap in physical security for many companies is card-based building access for employees. Owing to the limitations of legacy access control systems, most organizations grant 24/7 access to all employees, regardless of their specific needs. This opens the enterprise to new levels of liability in terms of both employee safety and security breaches.

But tempting though it may be, simply locking everything up and throwing away the key won’t serve a modern organization’s more complex access needs.

The problem with PACS

Policy-based access could, in theory, solve the 24/7 access problem and help organizations tighten up their physical security posture – even as schedules become more sporadic and site locations expand. By automating PBAC, employees would only be able to access company facilities during their designated shifts or planned “in-office” days.

But PBAC begets another issue owing to most companies’ dated security infrastructure: PACS. Legacy access control systems simply don’t have the capacity to manage multiple contingencies for every employee. Historically, as a result, the only way to implement tailored access policies has been by hand.

PBAC – A Zero Trust Approach for Physical Security

A common initiative for cyber security, a Zero Trust approach is a shift of network defenses toward a more comprehensive IT security model that allows organizations to restrict access controls to networks, applications, and environment without sacrificing performance and user experience. In short, a Zero Trust approach trusts no one, verifies everyone.

Within a PBAC Zero Trust approach for physical security, your organization’s posture assumes all identities have zero access and that every physical access event such as a badge or mobile credential swipe or biometric scan is validated and authorized against identity attributes, roles and policies.

R.I.P to Rip & Replace

Even as security budgets see growth over previous years, a “rip & replace” approach to updating infrastructure remains unappealing for most organizations, both for its cost and inconvenient interruption to operations.

But what if PBAC was possible within legacy access control systems?

In partnership with Bioconnect, we’ve introduced the first ever PBAC cloud solution for physical security. With our solution, you can implement zero trust, dynamic authorization for employee access according to individual work schedules – as well as assign seniority-based access privileges for physical spaces.

Alert Enterprise Policy-Based Access Control

Use our PBAC solution to:

  • Deliver trusted and compliant access at scale across the enterprise in real time
  • Control access to sensitive areas
  • Block access to terminated employees or individuals identified as high risk
  • Prevent rogue or unauthorized cardholder account access
  • And more

And thanks to our Bioconnect partnership, you can even introduce biometric and mobile device-based credentials and door readers together with or in lieu of the traditional card swipe. Either way, you can keep your existing PACs and dynamically authorize and enforce policy at scale. All the security benefits, none of the rip and replace hassle.

Start now with Alert Enterprise

Let’s connect on how we can help you protect your site locations, intellectual property, and most importantly, your people with policy-based access control for physical security.

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