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Future of Physical Security


Our world is changing at an incredible pace and the need for security has never been greater. Security strategies and products continuously evolve to meet emerging security challenges and address vulnerabilities. In this post we reflect on some technological innovations and consider what the future is likely to bring.

As we become increasingly reliant on digital technology the risks from cyber criminals also increase. Today’s security solutions include a fast-developing range of exciting products and applications to meet these emerging threats, many of which were not even imagined only a few years ago. New innovations and rapid technological changes bring both benefits and challenges, especially for those who are less digitally savvy.

Key Technological Developments

Let’s take a brief look at some of the main technological advances society has embraced over recent years.

The Internet and Communications

The internet has provided near instant access to masses of information, transforming the way in which we learn, communicate and interact. Video conferencing and communication applications such as Zoom, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams have become invaluable during the COVID pandemic, demonstrating the benefits in having reliable, high bandwidth internet connectivity. If it wasn’t for the internet the negative economic impact of the pandemic would be far greater.

But this explosion in information availability includes a huge increase in misinformation and what is widely referred to as ‘Fake News’. Its also introduced a whole new realm of cyber criminality and security concerns including online scams, identity theft, hacking and cyberattacks.

Internet of Things

The rise of what is called the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a good example of how rapidly digital technology is becoming ubiquitous. Increasingly, the devices and gadgets we buy are internet enabled with built-in wireless connectivity and the facility to retain logs of how we use them. Newer televisions, video cameras, mobile phones and digital watches are examples of where this technology currently exists. Inevitably, this technology will expand into everyday household items as costs decrease and demand rises.

Online and Mobile Banking

An area in which reliable internet connectivity has radically changed our lives is in dealing with our banks. Secure online, mobile banking applications mean that we can manage our accounts, check our balances and pay our bills without the need to visit a branch.

This is resulting in the closure of many local bank branches. Along with the move toward an increasingly cashless society these changes put those who don’t use digital banking at a disadvantage.

Payment Cards

Credit and debit card cashless payment capabilities have been further enabled by advances in digital technology. These days, payment and credit cards use NFC (near field communications) for contactless card payments (increased to £100), avoiding the need to use card payment machines. This capability has been particularly useful during the COVID pandemic as it helps ensure hygiene during transactions, minimising the risk of infection.

An important security aspect of digital shopping and electronic, cashless payment systems is the accumulation of vast amounts of data. Personal shopping data is valuable to marketing organisations that use this insight to create what can sometimes be irritating targeted marketing campaigns.


Smartphones have evolved from the communications utility provided by early mobile phones, first released by Motorola in 1973. These days, many people manage all aspects of their busy lives, their businesses and their relationships from their increasingly sophisticated smartphones. Today`s smartphones are powerful pocket sized computers with advanced video recording capabilities and multiple internet connection options (wireless, 4G, 5G).


Developments in camera and digital technologies along with internet connectivity have driven significant advancement in CCTV security systems for both commercial and domestic applications. These days, highly sophisticated CCTV camera systems with exceptionally high quality recording capabilities have become very affordable. Some of these systems will automatically send alerts to mobile devices, when triggered, enabling system owners to remotely log in and view what’s going on in their homes or offices.

Security Lighting

Energy efficient LED lighting is another area in which significant developments have taken place in recent years. We are now all using LED bulbs in our homes and street lighting is progressively being replaced with energy-saving LED alternatives. Highly effective motion triggered LED home security lighting has therefore become more affordable.

Vehicle Security

Advances in engine immobilisers, alarms and trackers along with digital vehicle key systems have all contributed toward deterring automotive thieves. But as security technology develops so do the tactics used by criminals who are known to steal top end vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes and Range Rovers, to order.

Search and Surveillance Aids

Greater awareness of the need for security has boosted the use of technologies such as walk-through metal detector arches and handheld metal detectors. Such devices have been widely deployed to COVID vaccination centres and are now commonly used at public venues and night clubs.

walkthrough metal detector arch
Walkthrough Metal Detector Security Arch


Search and inspection mirrors, commonly used for border security and vehicle security applications, are now available with built in LED torches to illuminate areas under inspection. And unbreakable institutional mirrors are available in anti-ligature designs, ideal for environments used by vulnerable individuals.

Personal Safety and Security

Developments in personal safety and security include the increased use of easily carried rape alarms that emit incredibly loud alarm sounds when triggered. Some have suggested that we’ve all become used to loud car alarms and aren’t likely to respond. But attackers don’t want any attention so these loud alarms can provide an effective deterrent.

Smart Homes

Developments in digital technologies, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) along with improvements in broadband internet connectivity is enabling the evolution of what are called Smart Homes.

Smart home technology, sometimes simply referred to as ‘home automation’, enables the control and monitoring of various smart devices, often via a software application on a smartphones or tablet. An example of smart home technology that`s growing in popularity is smart doorbells with built in cameras and two-way audio communication.

The development of the “Internet of Things” is enabling homeowners to remotely control appliances, thermostats and lights while monitoring home security devices and even what’s in the fridge.

New Technologies Raise Security Concerns

While technological advances are clearly bringing many advantages, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also raising a number of very real concerns.

Data Security and Privacy

As noted, online shopping and the use of digital payment systems results in the accumulation of vast amounts of data. Commercial organisations, banks and other institutions are therefore required to keep all personal data entirely secure. In the face of increasingly sophisticated attacks from cyber criminals, this can be very challenging.

Another important aspect of privacy relates to the massive increase in the popularity of drones, which are great fun to use. Legislation has been introduced to ensure drone pilots have the necessary identifications and they’re fully aware of the drone and model aircraft code.

Financial Security

Online shopping, the use of cashless payment methods and online banking raise many concerns regarding financial security, both for individuals and organisations. Banks and online financial service providers must ensure the security of their client accounts. Similarly, commercial organisations providing online shopping facilities must ensure their customer accounts are safe and secure and all of their client data is protected.

Cyber criminals are increasingly using clever social engineering and phishing techniques to elicit account details. Organisations need to continuously remain highly aware of cyberattack developments and what they need to do to keep financial data entirely secure. Importantly, they need to make certain all of their personnel are following best practices to keep systems safe and secure from cyberattacks.

Personal Security Responsibilities

While banks, shops and institutions offering online facilities may go to great lengths to protect the security of those who use their services, individuals must take much of the responsibility themselves. The need to setup and use strong passwords is one example along with the recommended use of two-factor-authentication (2fa).

Inevitably this puts people who aren’t comfortable with digital technology at a disadvantage and can potentially make them more susceptible to attack.

Over Reliance on Technology

We all know that technology can malfunction. There are always risks associated with new technologies and these may not come to light until systems have been in use for some time.

When evaluating new security technologies its always good practice to determine how long systems have been in use, how widely they are used and what the feedback is, from those who are early adopters. When it comes to new digital security technologies, it can often be best to wait until systems have been rigorously put through their paces in real-world applications. Ideally, all the bugs and system weaknesses should have been found and fixed before you invest in cutting-edge security systems.

Biometric locks are an example of new technology that can enhance security. Standard key-based locks are susceptible to break-ins as they can often be picked. Also, if the key falls into the wrong hands or if a copy can be made then security is compromised. Biometric locks don`t use keys, instead they rely on fingerprint scanning, facial recognition or perhaps retina scanning. Fingerprint assessment is the most commonly used biometric. 

Biometric keyless entry systems are far more secure than regular key-based locks. These systems overcome any concerns over lost keys or the possibility of keys falling into the wrong hands. The locks can`t be picked because there are no keyholes and only those on the approved list can gain entry using their biometrics. But the major disadvantage of these systems is the cost for both the equipment and installation. Also, fingerprint scanners can have recognition problems if a persons fingerprint is unreadable due to wear or the effects of chemicals.

Multi-Layered Future Security

There is no doubt that the risk and threat landscape is changing. While the digital revolution has transformed the world in many positive ways it has also created a raft of new security threats.

When considering and devising security solutions, simplicity is a key factor. While new, technological systems may exist its important to identify the risks and benefits before investing in them. Physical security solutions such as high quality locks, security chains, robust perimeter security and security lighting are timeless and extensively proven to be effective.

The well known security approach of detect, delay, respond, mitigate, and deter is the foundation for implementing effective security solutions. Layered physical security optimises all of the protection barriers between protected assets and those who may want to get hold of them. For example, valuable jewellery might be stored in a locked box or safe which is located in a house that`s surrounded by a fence with gates. The layers of security around these valuable jewellery assets include the perimeter security, building security, the safe or lockbox security and asset marking for identification.

But the digital revolution means many of the valuable assets requiring protection are not physical. They include personal identify information and various account login details for bank accounts, social media accounts and possibly other valuable resources. These digital valuables are typically stored on smartphones, tablets and laptops. The multi-layered security approach must therefore protect these physical devices from falling into the wrong hands and if they do, it should be impossible for a criminal to extract personal identify information or account login details from them. This can be achieved using rigorous device access protection (e.g. biometric scanning), strong passwords and two factor authentication.

By far the most reliable way to come up with an effective security solution is to talk to experienced security professionals. If you have any questions about your security needs remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.

This message was added on Thursday 30th December 2021

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