The landscape of physical security threats in 2024 is constantly evolving, shaped by changes in workplace practices, new technologies, and new socioeconomic 2024 security trends. The shift to remote work during the pandemic has also instilled some fairly permanent habits for hybrid work. However, it also exposed many businesses to heightened cybersecurity and physical security risks as reliance on digital communication increased significantly, which has had some knock-on physical security implications.

With the widespread adoption of hybrid work models, distinguishing who is permitted access to certain areas and at specific times has become increasingly complex. These ambiguities introduce fresh challenges and underscore existing physical security weaknesses.

As we move forward in 2024 and beyond, the lines between cyber and physical security threats are expected to blur further—so-called security convergence. For instance, the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices introduces significant physical security risks, impacting both digital and physical security realms simultaneously. Such vulnerabilities require a unified security approach that integrates physical and digital strategies.

This article explores the impact of technology on physical security threats and some of the top physical security and converged security threats in 2024 businesses must be aware of.


The rubber hits the road for AI in physical security 

The explosion of new AI capabilities is transforming physical security, revolutionizing everything from video surveillance to threat detection and access control. The question is, what AI will end up being all hype, and what will actually deliver? 

In particular, generative AI is on the brink of widespread acceptance in 2024, potentially redefining how society creates, designs, and innovates. While AI-enhanced security cameras have already improved accuracy in identifying humans and vehicles, the next phase of AI promises even greater appeal, especially for data-driven businesses. Collecting valuable business intelligence data directly from “edge devices” like cameras and access control points will enable more automated processes, improving security and wider operational efficiency. 

These are all powerful applications, but they are the more realistic options experts believe AI will deliver in the coming years. What we likely will not see is so-called “general AI” or machine systems that can replicate human intelligence. General AI is still far off and remains firmly in the realm of hype if it is even possible to engineer on modern digital computer systems.  

Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence and Physical Security


New regulations for drones and autonomous devices 

A black drone flying banner

Drones are becoming much more prominent in security teams' toolkits. They enhance traditional practices, like video surveillance, and introduce new capabilities. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are beginning to take on routine law enforcement monitoring, actively secure sensitive targets, and even deliver aid in emergencies. 

But that doesn’t mean introducing drones is easy. Flying drones beyond the visual line of sight without a physical observer is challenging. Still, advancements are being made with technology that supports Drones as First Responders (DFR) operations without the need for visual observers. 

However, with that potential comes a set of new regulations to secure the use of privately-owned drones. Will they make it cost-effective to deploy drones? Only in some use cases? Interested security teams will need to closely monitor this situation and think hard about how they plan to manage the use of their drones and other critical mobile technology. 


Hybrid working creates challenges for emergency preparedness 

An employee working remotely doing a video conference

The post-pandemic workplace has yet to see a complete return to traditional office settings as initially anticipated. Many organizations now operate under a hybrid model, where employees split their time between working remotely and coming into the office. While beneficial for employee morale and productivity, this flexibility introduces complexities for physical security teams, which must monitor who is on-premise at any time. 

Security teams should leverage new smart technologies for access control and asset management. The goal is to understand who is located where in real time and identify which facilities and business resources they’re using. By embracing these advancements, security teams can better adapt to the flexible work arrangements that are becoming standard in today's work environments.


Insider threats become a greater concern 

Insider threats to physical security are poised to become a significant concern for businesses in 2024. Insider threats have always posed challenges, but the stakes are increasing as companies vie aggressively to establish market dominance and secure a competitive edge. In tight markets, any marginal gain has value. And any proprietary knowledge you might hold represents significant value you don’t want to share with your rivals. 

In this high-stakes environment, the temptation for insiders to engage in espionage or sabotage—often at the behest of rival firms—can be very tempting. As a result, we can anticipate a rise in instances where insiders are coerced or incentivized to leak sensitive information, disrupt operations, or otherwise undermine their employers to favor competitive entities. 

Security professionals must intensify their efforts to identify and mitigate the physical security risks malicious insiders pose. This will likely involve the development of more sophisticated surveillance and monitoring technologies designed to detect unusual activity or access patterns within a company, for example, by tracking the use of sensitive data-carrying mobile devices. Employee training programs will also be crucial, as they can help staff recognize and report suspicious activities or potential security breaches.

Learn More: What are Insider Threats, and How Real-Time Asset Management Can Help


The continued convergence of cyber and physical security threats in 2024 

Convergence of cyber and physical security

At IFSEC Global 2022, 40 percent of respondents identified protection against cyber threats as their primary security challenge. That was two years ago. Today's cyber attacks are even more sophisticated, targeting human operators and individuals across various devices using phishing, malware, ransomware, and social engineering tactics. The primary goal of these attacks is to extract sensitive information for businesses, the loss of which can have severe financial implications. 

However, going forward, the real risks extend beyond digital breaches. Cyber attacks also pose a direct threat to physical security systems. Stolen information might include access details that could allow attackers to breach client premises physically, endangering physical security personnel and the integrity of onsite equipment. 

The solution lies in integrating cybersecurity and physical security operations, a process called security convergence. Organizations must educate employees on cybersecurity awareness and practices and maintain robust physical security measures. Ensuring an organization-wide understanding of potential cyber threats to physical security is futile if intruders can still physically access sensitive areas and steal valuable hardware. 


Disruption caused by the fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) 

The industry 4.0 and the fourth industrial revolution

The fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, marks a significant shift in the way we live, work, and interact with one another. This era is characterized by a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds. Security convergence is just one specific consequence of this change. It integrates cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and biotechnology. On their own, these technologies can revolutionize business models. But together, they have the power to reshape social interactions. 

Joining Industry 4.0 means doing more than just adopting smart machinery and networked systems. It involves the strategic use of massive datasets, advanced analytics, and a radical transformation of industrial systems. This revolution redefines numerous industries, including how physical security is managed and implemented. 

Industry 4.0 also emphasizes the critical role of data and analytics. Exploiting big data provides unprecedented insights, driving smarter decisions and more nuanced human-machine interactions. This revolution is not just about enhancing technological infrastructure but also about augmenting human capabilities and decision-making processes.

Learn More: Smart Manufacturing 101: Navigating the Era of Industry 4.0


Significant adaptation is needed for organizations to stay ahead of new security threats 

The complexity and sophistication of security threats in 2024 necessitate that physical security measures be seamlessly integrated into the organization's daily operations. Physical security must go beyond the traditional role of guards making their rounds and become more integral to the organizational structure. 

But here’s the bad news: as organizations evolve, they become exposed to a much wider range of security threats in 2024. This is because new operations and technologies expose them to new threats, and typically, existing threats will still remain a concern. So, it is crucial for physical security teams to involve every department in a proactive security strategy. That could include requiring employees to log and track signed-out smart devices when entering or leaving secure facilities, or it could involve them in cybersecurity drills. 

Regardless of your specific approaches, each department needs to understand its unique vulnerabilities and actively monitor and update its security program. A holistic approach ensures security keeps pace with organizational changes and an evolving threat landscape.


The changing physical security threat landscape 

To stay ahead of the competition and deal with new threats in 2024 and beyond, security teams must enhance their ability to provide comprehensive situational awareness for the organizations they protect. The integration of physical and cybersecurity measures is becoming increasingly important. Utilizing smart software and advanced technology to merge these two traditionally separate areas can help security operations close critical gaps in protection. 

By doing so, they safeguard their organizations more effectively and demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) in new technology. In this era of rapid change, those who successfully blend innovative technology with robust security practices will enhance their organizational security and position themselves as essential strategic assets in the face of ongoing and emerging threats.

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