Securing the Physical Perimeter, Part 1: What You Need to Know About Gates and Fencing

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Although the importance of cybersecurity can’t be overstated, it’s equally as important to consider the physical security of your facility, employees, customers, and key stakeholders. In this two-part series, we’ll analyze the primary components, or layers, of a physical perimeter and help you develop a strong, layered physical perimeter defense strategy.

While your online systems are critically important, outdoor protection, safety, and detection is your first line of physical defense. Using the natural topography, physical barriers, and technology, companies can create layers of protection around their facility’s perimeter. Each of these strategies work together to make it harder for criminals and trespassers to access your property. Those in the security industry may refer to this as physical perimeter security or as physical hardening.

Electrical Contractor reported that “The global perimeter security market is expected to grow from $14 million in 2015 to more than $20 million by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.6 percent, according to India-based market research firm MarketsandMarkets. It forecasts North America will be the largest market, based on spending and adoption of perimeter security solutions.”

What are the Primary Components of a Physical Perimeter?

The primary components of a physical perimeter include natural barriers, gates, fences, obstructions, signage, lighting, motion sensors, cameras, and more. When organizations invest in physical security, they seek to deter unwanted entry to their property by both making it difficult to access and conveying the sense that any attempt at a breach will be unsuccessful.

This week, we’re focusing our attention obstructions, gates, and fences. Please keep in mind that individual fencing needs may vary from business to business and industry to industry. For a customized security assessment, contact us.  Check back in a few weeks for more on lighting, motion sensors, and other perimeter intrusion detection controls.

Building a Better Fence

The first barrier against intruders is often a good, solid fence peppered with clear warning signs to deter intruders. While natural barriers like mountains, deserts, cliffs, moats, or other water obstructions are ideal, they’re not always readily available or feasible. When nature isn’t an option, a well-constructed fence is the way to go.

TechRepublic writes, “A fence is both a psychological and a physical barrier. The psychology comes into play when casual passers-by encounter it. It tells them that the area on the other side is off-limits, and the owner would probably rather they didn’t walk across the property.” For the private property owner who would rather keep passersby off his or her property, a modest 3’ to 5’ fence should do the trick. For corporations, government facilities, municipalities, and high-risk industries, a 7’-8’ fence with a top guard built of barbed wire, razor wire, or concertina coils should be installed.

Make sure your poles are firmly set in concrete, and, if you’re installing a chain link fence, make sure that each section is tight. You’ll also need to consider ditches, culverts, and small streams through which intruders could crawl. Never leave more than two inches between the ground and your fence. The United States Geological Survey notes, “Every vulnerable point should be protected to deter or prevent unauthorized access to the facility. The roof, basement, and walls of a building may contain vulnerable points of potential entry. A security survey of the perimeter should address manholes and tunnels, gates leading to the basement, elevator shafts, ventilation openings, skylights, and any opening 96 square inches or larger that is within 18 feet of the ground.”

Other fencing options may include ornamental metal fencing, welded steel fences, or component fencing. To further restrict access, bollards, boom gates, and sliding or swing gates may also be considered. Work with security experts to determine optimal security-conscious landscaping features.

Well-constructed fence and gate systems act as physical deterrents, keeping trespassers, criminals, and other unwanted individuals off your property. Although cameras will alert you to the presence of an intruder, a fence may keep them out entirely. Solid gates restrict entry points, making it easier to monitor and secure the entrance and exit points of your facility.

For more information on developing a layered approach to perimeter security or to arrange for an in-depth security assessment, contact Herring Technology today.

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