Physical Security Design Essay Paper 5 pages

Physical Security Design

The physical security of any entity is largely pegged on the risk assessment mechanisms used. Prior to implementing any physical security plans, it is fundamental to comprehend the types of threats that the entity is faced with, the possibility that the threats will occur, and the level of damage likely to be inflicted in the threat happens. Firms involved in risk management should be able to assist in the identification of the vulnerability areas and thereafter form a functional and sound physical security plan. Schools, businesses, government agencies, and private institutions and individuals and can enjoy the benefits of using exert help in risk management.

In order to prevent theft business entities with large inventory, schools, government institutions with confidential and privileged data and personal private residents require comprehensive physical security systems. Physical safety is one of the most vulnerable. The times we live in today detail potential terrorism. No single person is perfectly safe notwithstanding their location and their domicile. Risk assessment for business can help mitigate elemental and environmental concerns like fires, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes.

Physical security

This can be described as security measures that are intended at preventing unauthorized personnel from physical access to some space or from accessing stored resources or information (Elert & Associates, 2013). It details also the procedures put in place for the designing of structures that will help in preventing various types of attacks. Physical security is primarily intended to convince the prospective attackers that some location is essentially inaccessible and it is not worth the effort and the time to make an attempt at overcoming the different layers of defense put in place (Elert & Associates, 2013). It is difficult to achieve this level of layered security because criminal elements are quite resilient and persistent.

Entity Example (American Federal Government Pentagon Building)

An example of physical security is the installation of bullet proof glasses in an enclosed teller office in a banking hall to keep the clerks safe from gun attacks (Elert & Associates, 2013). The American Federal government Pentagon has mazelike corridors that are identical. The corridors are designed this way to frustrate and confuse any intruders. The Pentagon is a good example of the complexity of physical security. The design of the Pentagon is such that the occupants can walk from any point to another within 7 minutes (Elert & Associates, 2013). The design is made this way to make it possible for security officials to handle incidents fast.

The identical hallways and corridors are also uniform in every way including the furniture, and pictures used in the decoration. Anyone who is attempting to break into the Pentagon without close and comprehensive knowledge of the complex would get lost easily (Elert & Associates, 2013). It is only the people who’ve had intimate knowledge of the Pentagon through working in the complex who have learned their way around. More than the design of the structure the Pentagon has many security checkpoints, locked doors, security cameras and guards. This affirms the fact that this complex is not just a typical building. It is indeed a secured fortress (Elert & Associates, 2013).

Physical security is made up of three elements which are security, detection, and obstacles (Elert & Associates, 2013). Each of the element handles a particular attack phase. The threats come from potential physical harm or theft. For obstacles the intention is to frustrate, slow down, and disrupt the attackers. This allows for the defense personnel to overcome the attackers. If the setup is perfect, the obstacles will allow for assessment and formulation of a plan. Where there are enough obstacles against an attacker it will dissuade them entirely although there may be no guarantee. Obstacles may include walls or fences surrounding premises, barbed wires, electric fences, locked doors, security windows or bars, shatterproof glasses etc. (Elert & Associates, 2013).

The detection system raises awareness concerning an attack that is already underway or has already occurred. If for instance an attacker overcomes an obstacle set in place the breach of security should be immediately discovered (Elert & Associates, 2013). The detection system could be alarms, surveillance systems, security lighting, alarms, CCTV cameras, and patrol guards where threat is higher. For security the attacker may have passed undetected through the obstacles and past the detection system (Elert & Associates, 2013). The final thing is to make an attempt at stopping the attacker. Security response from security guards has only one responsibility and that is to frustrate, repel and capture the attackers. By so doing whatever the attack was intended for is quelled (Elert & Associates, 2013).

The implementation of physical security entails four layers. They are environmental design, access control, intrusion detection, and personnel identification (Elert & Associates, 2013). Using the example of the Pentagon it is evident enough that the structure was designed to make it absolutely difficult or impossible for attackers to launch a successful attack. The architectural layout was such that only the personnel who are conversant can navigate through the complex. In access control the procedural, electronic and mechanical through which access to the Pentagon is granted is quite sophisticated. The locked doors, electronic verification processes, and documentation of visitors etc. are fundamental access control systems in the Pentagon. With several access points it becomes more difficult for attackers to access the facility.

In intrusion detection the detection system is responsible for recording and monitoring activity and raising an alarm if an intruder is detected (Mehl, 2018). It is possible to have reliable access controls and environmental designs. If the access controls and environmental design are breached without awareness of such breach then the controls are completely useless (Mehl, 2018). Fundamental intrusion detection mechanisms entail detection of the possibilities like the motion detectors, alarms, video surveillance etc. (Mehl, 2018). The intrusion detection mechanisms in the Pentagon ensure that intrusion is impossible. In personnel identification the intense activity around the Pentagon would make it impossible for security personnel to know whether everyone is supposed to be where they are or privy to some of the privileged information. The authentication process is the only way for the security personnel to know that everyone is doing what there are allowed to. Without the input of personnel identification is barely possible to know the intentions of everyone.

Physical design deficiencies

The lack of physical security design can allow attackers to access confidential information or make it easy for criminals to commit acts of crime like burglary. Opportunistic criminals take advantage of such vulnerabilities. Most terrorist, burglary, and criminal acts occur because there are no sound detection systems on site. Even when the detection systems exist they may have some gaps and vulnerabilities that may cause a lapse in crime response.

Former Pentagon employees may use their knowledge of the security structure and their credentials in the Pentagon to compromise the system. If the access rights of former Pentagon employees are not revoked immediately this might mean potential physical security lapses. Information leaks may also make the physical design of the Pentagon security system vulnerable. Former employees with comprehensive knowledge of the structural design and the manner in which internal systems run inside the Pentagon can leak some of that information.

Several measures can be instituted to prevent such threats from occurring including strong metrics that assess the effectiveness of the physical design. Implementation of countermeasures may also be helpful in prevention of security risks. All the vulnerable access points should be enhanced to ensure that intruders are quickly detected before they access their intended target. The CCTV cameras should also be strategically installed. The quality of the CCTV’s should be such that they can enable detection, evaluation, and help trigger a response. The alarm system can be used as a tool for detection. All former employees at the Pentagon should have their privileged access revoked. The personnel detection system should be immediately configured to block access from former Pentagon personnel. Further internal design changes should be implemented to make it impossible for former employees to understand the new structure. All information held by former Pentagon personnel must always remain confidential failure to which legal action is taken.

Protective and Physical Barriers

With respect to the high terrorist threat risks security barriers must be polished. Security barriers help in effectively preventing the consequences resulting from intentional criminal or terrorist activities. Effective barriers require skilled, skeptical and superior technological innovation that will reinvent the security measures. Technological bloom catalyzed and assisted in the escalation of terrorism globally. In the anti-terrorism efforts barriers are quite fundamental. The physical barriers of walls, vehicle barriers and fences are the outermost security layer. They prevent or delay attacks and serve as psychological deterrents. They make it more difficult to intrude. The barbed wire fences, metal spikes and razor wire walls are often placed on property perimeters. Some may have warning signs that warn strangers from intruding. Some properties are in an environment where installing perimeter walls are impossible. In such instances the windows, doors, and walls on the structure serve as the barriers.

Physical barriers can be used to stop vehicles from accessing a public event area that is in an open place. Recently terrorists have chosen aggression in their use of tractors and vehicles to run over people in populated public area. A recent case was in Nice, France where a truck driver ran over unsuspecting people who had attended Bastille Day celebrations (The Telegraph, 2016). Physical barriers are quite fundamental security systems that can help prevent hostile trucks and other vehicles from accessing the main entrance of a facility or a public event area. Barriers can also keep vehicles from crushing into pedestrians walking by the roadside or on open land (Gov.UK, 2009). Criminals escaping capture on highways can be stopped by the police spike barriers as well. Another example is the entrance area into football stadiums where barriers are elected to keep vehicles from accessing it. This way the people outside awaiting entrance are under no threat of any physical attack from speeding vehicles.

Security Lighting

Lighting, CCTV, and intruder alarms are often used for the deterrence of crime, delay criminals, and detect and offenders (Gov.UK, 2009). All the security systems have to be integrated in such a way as to work in unison in a coordinated and effective manner. Security lighting offers illumination. This makes it possible for security personnel and CCTV’s to clearly identify objects and persons. Lighting cultivates psychological deterrence from criminal activities in the area where protection is required. Security lighting can be of four types including continuous lighting, moveable lighting, standby lighting, and emergency lighting.

Lighting may also be used to enhance the safety feeling. It is essential to the prevention of crime through a sound environmental design. Security lighting is fundamental in commercial areas, military settings, institutions of learning, and residential areas. Floodlights are often used in sport centers to illuminate the playground and the stands. Discharge lamps of high intensity are energy efficient hence reducing running costs. Where a security environment is poorly lit chances are higher that criminal or terrorist activities may be executed by opportunists. The quality of the images captured on CCTV cameras may also be significantly compromised if the lighting used is poor or nonexistent.

Fennelly (2013) proposes the CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) as a strategy for crime prevention. The CPTED principle proposes that properties and buildings should be designed in such a way as to derail any criminal activity. The CAPTED principles are founded on the ability to anticipate potential offenders’ thought processes and cultivating an environment which will discourage successful criminal acts (Kinney, Mann & Winterdyk, 2017). CPTED strategies increase the security feeling and the wellbeing of property occupants such as tenants and employees. By implementing CPTED the buildings and their surroundings will impede and discourage criminal behavior. Fennelly (2013) discusses the 25 things that should be understood about lighting and the categories of lighting. Chapter 5 is a fundamental chapter in understanding the significance of lighting in security.



Elert & Associates. (2013). Physical Security Design and Engineering: How Can It Help You? Retrieved 28 November, 2018 from engineering/

Fennelly, L. J. (2013). Effective physical security. (5th ed.) Waltham, Mass: Butterworth- Heinemann.

Gov.UK. (2009). Counter terrorism protective security advice for major events, NaCTSO

Kinney, J. B., Mann, E., & Winterdyk, J. A. (2017). Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). In Crime Prevention: International Perspectives, Issues, and Trends (pp. 376–402). Taylor and Francis.

Mehl, B. (2018). Types of Physical Security Threats You Should Know, KISI. Retrieved 28 November, 2018 from

The Telegraph (2016). Nice Terror Attack, Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 28 November, 2018 from.


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