Physical Intrusion Detection Systems
Controlling access to physical and digital spaces using authentication, credentials, and other measures is just one part of access control. Especially for larger organizations, with larger security footprints, the ability to spot potential threats and send alerts is critical in preventing, or at least mitigating, breaches.
What Are Physical Intrusion Detection Systems (PIDS)?
To achieve this level of security, many organizations deploy an intrusion detection system (IDS) or intrusion prevention system of some form. An IDS is an application or physical appliance that monitors access points for suspicious activity that might indicate an intrusion; an intrusion prevention system (IPS) shuts down a security breach as soon as it’s discovered (which may include initiating a building lockdown.) The main difference between them is that IDS is an access monitoring system, while IPS is an access control system.
Physical intrusion detection systems (PIDS) detect physical security threats entering into restricted area, and include video surveillance, doorstop, motion detectors, and glass break sensors. They often include or are paired with a physical security intrusion prevention solution, such as a door entry system with lockdown capabilities.
The job of an IDS is to protect digital and physical spaces from unauthorized access. An IDS can be deployed on a network by IT and cybersecurity professionals to detect malicious activity, traffic, or applications (network IDS). Or, an IDS can be deployed to a physical perimeter, where it is integrated with other security measures, such as video security and access control, as part of a layered approach to the broader security system. This is commonly known as a perimeter intrusion detection system (PIDS).
What Are the 4 Principles of Intrusion Detection and Prevention?
While system design and architecture will vary from organization to organization, all intrusion detection solutions are built on four core principles:
The age-old practice of leaving a light on when away from home captures the essence of deterrence well. In more practical settings, deterrence measures can help discourage intruders from attempting a breach in the first place. As the first layer of security, these measures can have the practical and psychological effect of making an intrusion seem too difficult, risky, or even physically harmful. Examples include:
Just as a dam regulates the volume and flow of water, delay measures control the flow of people, traffic, and even information through various entry points. This could be through the use of role-based access control based on IDs and RFIDs. On a network, security policies can perform a similar function, stemming the flow of access based on traffic type, user permissions, and so on.
The most common examples of intrusion detection are alarms and motion detection cameras. When these measures are “tripped,” they send some kind of notification (loud sound, electronic alert, etc) that initiates incident response. In the context of access control systems, security cameras can be used for incident verification and historical analysis. Some systems use face match capabilities to generate future Person on Interest notifications.
4. Denying a Breach
For attempted physical breaches, the intervention of guards or law enforcement figures comes to mind. Typically, guards are posted to checkpoints, or along physical perimeters, to respond to and deny any breach. However, denying a breach can involve proactive notifications, such as suspicious persons alerts sent remotely to guards onsite. Lockdowns for certain areas and access points can also be triggered in response to imminent threat intelligence, thus preventing any breach.
Where Are Intrusion Detection Systems found?
Given their utility in layered security models—and their applicability in securing networks and physical—IDS is most commonly used in high-security environments, including:
- Jails and correctional facilities
- Military bases
- Nuclear and power plants
- Border crossings
Yet, IDS has become far more commonplace in commercial settings. The operations team at a water district or warehouse might need to secure their facilities; office buildings, industrial and manufacturing factories, too.
Key Considerations for PID Solutions
Given the precipitous increase in breaches and planned intrusions in recent years, the market for PIDS is predicted to grow more than 7% by 2025. When evaluating current PID technologies for your own environments, here are the most important considerations:
- Reliability: Will a system stay up, online, and properly functioning year-round—despite network outages, power outages, and adverse weather conditions? With more complexity and advanced hardware, such as sensors, infrared, and fiber-optic wiring, equipment malfunction or failure can quickly become an issue. In high-security settings, even 99% uptime might not be good enough to prevent a costly breach.
- Accuracy: The accuracy of positional information, facial recognition, and other PIDS detection capabilities is central to a well secured physical perimeter. Nuisance alarms, or false positives, not only create security vulnerabilities, but can unnecessarily tie up valuable resources.
- Capabilities: It’s important to keep your system up to date with the latest capabilities, such as tracking and object classification, advanced footage retrieval, and environmental monitoring, for maximum detection capability. This requires a PID system built or integrated future-proof software solutions that releases regular feature updates to stay ahead of new threats.
- Maintenance: In a complex system with a variety of both software and hardware components, maintenance can prove costly. Look for a low-maintenance system, featuring proactive maintenance-related alerts, to ensure a properly working system, accurate reporting, and reduced downtime can help predict and avoid failures.
- Coverage: The ways that PID systems visualize data has evolved significantly. Today, many PID systems have the ability to quickly accurately pinpoint the location of an intrusion thanks to advanced sensor technology. Motion Plotting, for example, can be used to accurately pinpoint motion—anywhere across the coverage map—in real time.
- Integrations: As mentioned, PID systems are often part of a layered approach to security, one that uses a number of different technologies. These might include readers, surveillance cameras, environmental sensors, and remote management platforms. Finding a solution capable of these integrations with complementary technologies can help provide more comprehensive, proactive, and scalable security overall.
Evolving Capabilities of Perimeter Intrusion Detection Solutions
The nature of security threats is only becoming more sophisticated. Attack vectors are becoming more numerous, too, especially with the proliferation of IoT- and cloud-based solutions (Grand View Research cites the steady growth in smart cities as a contributing factor). That said, the need for advanced, highly integrated intrusion detection will only grow.
The advances in intrusion detection technology will likely be focused more around software than hardware, as manufacturers continue to pursue improved system performance, flexibility, and reliability. The scalability made possible by cloud-based remote management systems will also remain a driving force.
Physical Intrusion Detection FAQs
What is the difference between intrusion detection and access control?
An access control system regulates who gains access to which physical (or digital) spaces, and when. As part of this broader security program, intrusion detection uses various monitoring and feedback measures to prevent unauthorized ingress/egress, traffic, or intentional breaches. In comprehensive security systems, access control and intrusion detection go hand in hand.
How can Intrusion Detection be used as part of a larger physical security plan?
Most security environments consist of more than one layer, moving from the outermost level or perimeter to more interior lines of defense. A larger physical security plan deploys interrelated security measures to each of these “Concentric Circles of Protection.” IDS, for example, is commonly found in the outer ring, access control in the middle, and environmental sensors in the innermost circle. Cameras can be deployed throughout all concentric circles to provide context at all times for more complete coverage.