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Logical, physical security integration challenges

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8 Convergence Tips
Take these steps for a successful marriage of physical and IT security.

By Mark Diodati

  1. Look before you leap
    Due to the complexity of integrating heterogeneous systems, reorganizing the organization's physical and IT security teams, upgrading physical access systems and reissuing credentials, PL convergence is an ongoing process and can take at least several years to complete. Survey the organizational environment, inventory your systems, and evaluate the benefits of convergence with a healthy sense of skepticism before you consider this effort.


  2. Aim for a single authenticator system
    Many of the benefits of PL convergence result from providing a single authenticator, which enhances usability and reduces management complexity. Before beginning a convergence project, consider reducing the number of authenticators and physical access systems. This reduction may require the replacement of older physical access technologies, including those components at each door. However, multi-technology door readers and smart cards can ease the transition to a single technology.


  3. Invest in a smart card
    management system (CMS) A smart card management system is all but a requirement, unless you want to place significant burden

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  1. on your users and administrators. Smart card personalization can be achieved without a CMS, but the process is manually intensive--for example, asking users to manually enroll for an X.509 certificate.


  2. Bring the team together
    Many companies with successful PL convergence deployments have shifted the responsibility for physical and IT security to a single organization, which ensures that the two security teams cooperate and work toward the same goal. Oftentimes, these integrated organizations report to a common leader such as the CSO.


  3. Integrate with identity management systems
    Identity management systems can provide enhanced usability, timely and efficient control of the user identity lifecycle across heterogeneous applications, and ease compliance. Most of the goals of PL convergence relate to identity management, so it makes sense for organizations to integrate the convergence effort into the larger identity management fabric.

    Provisioning systems can help automate the identity lifecycle: new hires, departmental changes, terminations. Without integrating the CMS and provisioning systems, the organization opts to maintain two distinct islands of identity, each with a separate set of management processes.

This was first published in September 2007

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