Make your Perimeter Security System Safe as the Crown Jewels
Securing Critical and Sensitive Assets
For all the startling advances in technology, security must start by limiting access at – or even beyond – the perimeter and integrating systems that can monitor, check and allow passage through perimeters with those that then offer access to buildings themselves, says Steve Bailes, business development manager at Zaun.
After Intersec 2018, samples of Zaun’s fencing systems were ‘attacked’ in front of potential clients and accreditors in the Middle East, where there is a stated requirement for fencing to meet the highest of security standards.
In fencing, this is Security Rating 5 (SR5) as tested by the Buildings Research Establishment (BRE). LPS 1175 certification was introduced by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) at the BRE in the mid-1990s.
Standards for Fences
The LPCB works closely with UK government security agencies, police services, risk consultants, and architects to determine standards for fire and security products and services and independently tests and certifies systems to LPS 1175 SRs. An SR5 fence must resist a serious attempt at forced entry with top end battery power cutting tools used by fire and rescue teams including a 750W reciprocating saw with specialist blades and 18V circular saws, jigsaws and disk grinders with a spare power pack, axes including an 850mm felling axe, a hooligan bar, 1.5kg lump hammer and 500mm long bolt cutters. To be certified to SR5, the system must resist breach for more than 10 minutes by testers from BRE mounting a sustained attack armed with this astonishing arsenal.
Rings of Defence
But perhaps there is a better way of securing the most critical and sensitive assets than going on adding more and more layers of steel mesh to perimeter fences to gain higher and higher SRs. That may be tempting in this fearful age of apparently random acts of terrorism and lone wolf attacks, but it feels like a case of ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at security. Whereas, a conversation at the UK Security Expo (UKSec) late last year broached a potentially more appropriate and proportionate approach of adding PIDs to a simpler perimeter security fence. This is consistent with the old ‘onion skin’ principle to security that can’t be beaten easily – successive ‘rings’ of deterrent and defence for an intruder to overcome at a deeper and more robust level the nearer they get to the most critical and sensitive assets.
Guarding the Crown Jewels
The Crown Jewels are a perfect example of this. They are displayed behind bombproof glass under the watchful eye of armed guards and more than 100 hidden CCTV cameras. The Jewel House itself is a vault within a former barracks at the Tower of London, protected by the 22-strong Tower Guard, on detachment from the British Army, and the 38 resident Yeomen Warders or Beefeaters, who are ex-military too. And heaven only knows how many fences, gates, barriers, blockers, cameras and other high-tech wizardry are employed around the perimeter of The Tower to restrict and control access. But few facilities have the equivalent of the Crown Jewels to protect – or the budgets that that security costs.
Site operators need to weigh many factors in order to determine the appropriate and proportionate physical, electronic and human building access and security measures to put in place. First are the threats posed to their building or facility; second, the chances of those being realised; third, if they are, the costs to the organization or enterprise, both monetary and potential downtime, diversion of focus and reputational damage. And, of course, what investment they are prepared to make in mitigating against those threats and risks.
Successive onion skin layers of protection – integrating physical, electronic and human security measures – is one of the best ways to protect our sites of critical national infrastructure.
Within and Beyond the Perimeter
And we need to think outside the box, literally. With radar detecting threats up to hundreds of metres away, this now enables us to look beyond the perimeter, at the perimeter and within the perimeter! Within the perimeter, technology in access control is advancing at a staggering pace. A few years ago, it was felt sufficient to block unwanted access with old-school metal keys or basic swipe cards. Now, IP-based security systems can monitor and record in HD signals, warnings and alerts from a multiplicity of sensors and systems anywhere on site and send responses back in real time. This means every event is recorded and analysed, both in real time and for training, learning and prosecution purposes after the event.
One of the most significant events is entry through building access points. The swipe of a card, the print of a thumb or even the scan of a retina can trigger a cascade of recording and monitoring systems, allowing security operatives to track personnel while on site. We are even now seeing a growth in the use of trusted identities with smart cards, mobile devices, wearables, embedded chips and other ‘smart’ devices, especially in industries with a focus on regulatory compliance, such as government, finance and healthcare.
Integration of Layers
A clever combination of physical and high-tech electronic measures is the key. Zaun’s installations, for example, have typically involved a Critical National Infrastructure ArmaWeave Plus fencing system on the outer perimeter. They have also employed hostile vehicle mitigation measures to avert against vehicle-borne attacks. CCTV and enhanced video analytics on the outer layers and at doorways allow us to gather intelligence about attackers and relay them live to guards via their mobile phones or tablets. We also integrate lighting, surveillance and perimeter intrusion detection systems to deliver a holistic solution to security. Biometrics are even being incorporated into advanced CCTV-based face-tracking systems to identify unique facial traits. But just make sure you’re not wowed by the sci-fi and forget the basic know-how of time-honoured security principles.