Sensitive but unclassified information: a threat to physical security

October 2004 Access Control & Identity Management

Alexander J. Breeding

SANS security essentials GSEC practical assignment


Considerable effort has gone into analysing the possibilities of an 'electronic Pearl Harbor' attack against the United States. While theories about the possibilities of cyber warfare and terrorist attacks on United States soil have been debated since the mid-1990s, life for all Americans changed on 11 September, 2001. The US has an enemy or enemies who have demonstrated their willingness to attack it with unconventional means on its home soil. While the US has expended great efforts into defending its company networks against hackers, viruses and worms, the fact remains that the biggest threat to its (and our) critical infrastructures, and even its (and our) buildings, does not lie in cyberspace.

Far more damage can be affected in the physical world. We must consider this new reality when we post information on to a website. We must consider the real possibilities of publicly available information becoming a threat to physical security.

Defending our companies and the 'critical infrastructure' of the country must be extended to include physical security. Defending the physical security of a company or other critical assets does not lie in the exclusive domain of the security guard. That duty extends also to the information department.

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