ALL OF US Capitol Attack a Wake-up Call for the Integration of Physical and IT Security


How two traditionally disparate safety disciplines can be united.

One of the harrowing images to come out associated with Wednesday’s attack on the ALL OF US Capitol was a photo submitted by a rioter of an open laptop on a table in US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The screen had been visible and apparently unlocked, with a warning in a black container that read, “Capitol: Internet Security Threat: Police Activity. ”

While it remains unclear whether the laptop allegedly stolen from Pelosi’s office throughout the attack upon the Capitol is the same one that was photographed within an unlocked state, it underscores how physical security and IT security can go hand in hand.

Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff said upon Twitter that the stolen laptop had limited entry to sensitive documents and was used simply for presentations. Even so, security experts expressed concern at the security implications of stolen Congressional computers and devices.    

Together with laptops and physical postal mail that were stolen, the rioters had the opportunity to integrate congressional computer systems and networks. Without proper logging of system and system access, a tech-savvy rioter could have done significant harm to congressional computers and systems, points out Dan Tentler, executive founder of security testing company Phobos Group.  

“Just because an opponent accidentally found themselves in the office of the speaker associated with the house doesn’t mean that they didn’t have the means to hack Congress, ” he or she says.

Traditionally, disparate physical security and IT protection operations are integrating awkwardly. Because technology rapidly changes and agencies increasingly emphasize IT security, they run the risk of ignoring physical safety concerns — and how these people can impact on computer products, systems, and networks. Equally prioritizing physical and IT security may dramatically improve the overall security posture of an organization, state experts, but too few organizations address both in an integrated way.  

What happened upon Capitol Hill should be the lesson not only to authorities officials but additionally to private businesses, Tentler says.

“Not a lot of companies sit down and think about who have doesn’t like them or who else wants to steal their intellectual property, ” he says. “Most businesses see security as extra work and a cost center, therefore they focus on compliance. What they need to do is move away through compliance and focus on true, effective security. ” 

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) is also worried about the particular intersection of physical and IT security. The day before the rioters overran the Capitol, CISA had  published an instruction on cyber-physical dangers and how organizations can start to modernize their approach to them.  

“A culture of inclusivity is vital to successfully converging security functions and fostering communication, coordination, plus collaboration. Organizations of sizes can pursue convergence by developing an approach that is tailored to the organization’s unique structure, priorities, and capability level, ” the tutorial states.

Sometimes, the potential risks are readily apparent, such as whenever weak physical security leads to network access. Christopher Hadnagy, CEO of Social-Engineer LLC and author of Human Hacking , says one of his employees on a penetration-testing job was able to gain access in order to a client’s network operations middle by slipping a wedge under the door to the NOC room. That breach could have been stopped by a basic alarm on the door that will would go off when the door was open for more than a few seconds, he says.

Another company had replaced its single-pass shredding machines with ones that shredded paper in multiple directions, but it didn’t check to make sure all its older machines were changed. So Hadnagy’s team was able to find one of the old machines and retrieve sensitive invoices, banking statements, purchase orders, plus checks by piecing together the shredded paper.

Fast fixes for physical and THIS security gaps are rare, especially when security experts hand them “a laundry list” of adjustments.

“We all really want that, ” Hadnagy says. “But what’s needed is real instruction. You need drills, real-world physical exercise. The drill gives you muscle mass memory. inch

Open fire drills, he says, where  everybody will get up and leaves their table to file out from the building could also incorporate security components, such as making sure everybody offers locked their computers — or requiring system administrators to do so for them.

Some of the most essential physical security considerations that may impact IT security are the simplest to make, says Whilst gary DeMercurio, director of red team, social engineering, and physical penetration testing at cybersecurity risk-management corporation Coalfire. The cost of enhancing physical security, especially with the goal of improving IT safety, can be relatively low compared with the vast sums used on IT security, he says.

He and other specialists interviewed for this story cited several realistic security improvements that companies should purchase to make all of them more secure:

  • Employees should be prevented from posting sticky notes with passwords to their monitors; rather, they should be provided with easy-to-use security password managers.  

  • Password managers serve the particular dual reason for eliminating sticky notes and encouraging the use associated with random, generated passwords, which are more safe than human-generated ones.

  • Forcing two-factor authentication might slow some employees down, but it ultimately keeps online accounts and computing devices more protected.

  • Making phones, tablets, and monitors in order to lock after inactivity can reduce unauthorized access.

  • Similarly, full-disk encryption upon all devices reduces unauthorized gain access to in the event a device is lost or stolen.

  • Keys in order to locked filing cabinets with delicate documents need to be kept separate from the cabinet and out associated with immediate view.  

  • Employee badges that will can unlock doors should end up being protected against walk-by cloning .  

  • Unintentional gaps between doors and frames, often developed by buildings settling, and which usually can aid a hacker in unauthorized access, could be covered along with strips of metal.

  • Get ready for edge situation scenarios such as what goes on whenever the power goes out (or your building is infiltrated by a mafia of insurrectionists. )

Physical security “can often trump million-dollar investments within cybersecurity, ” DeMercurio says.  

Implementing these adjustments, simply, requires better communication between physical and IT security groups, says Chris Nickerson, CEO associated with Lares and a red team expert. Too many organizations lack insight as to how their actual physical systems are used and exactly how they integrate with their IT systems, he says.

“There’s really terrible data on exactly what that intersection point is. We all don’t have good coupled integration between physical and IT safety, ” Nickerson says. “These [physical security] things run on computers  —  why are they not treated like data factors? There’s no case for disparate systems when they’re domains that will are connected. We’re all here to shield the fort. ”

Seth is editor-in-chief and founder of The Parallax, an online cybersecurity and privacy news magazine. He has worked in online journalism since 1999, including eight years at CNET Information, where he led coverage of security, privacy, and Google. Located in San Francisco, he also… View Full Bio

Recommended Reading:

More Insights