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The changing private security industry landscape

Technology is transforming the private security industry from both private and public perspective. The landscape and environment of private security is opening up new threats and opportunities. Opportunities can be identified in manufacturing, distribution and retailing, repair and maintenance of security equipment and security infrastructure development to provision of security consulting and training services.

On the other hand are threats which also range from new security exposure and transformation of the mode of security operations to security personnel employment insecurity. There is a misconception in some circles within the private security profession in thinking that cyber security is synonymous with information security. This is a challenge that requires the security industry to consider by including security cyber issues in developing continuing professional development programmes and coming up with collaborative stakeholder approach in handling the new security challenges.

Most security systems, such as Access Control, Guard Tour, Detection, Investigation, Monitoring and Surveillance systems are now operating on Electronic Technology and, in most cases, interfaced to the cyber infrastructure. Without reducing its benefits cyber technology has come with risks to business and has potential to affect the scale, method and form of private security guard companies’ operations. Cyber technology is increasingly influencing employment automated gadgets (Robots) in security management. Example is security technology which involves the use of intelligent video surveillance cameras, drones and IP and biometric based automated access control systems. Specifically the introduction of Internet Protocol (IP) based Digital Video Recorder (DVR), intelligent network video and web camera systems have enabled recording and retrieval of life and stored videos from remote locations.

The interface of physical security to IT infrastructure has heightened its exposure to cyber based threats and should be of concern to private security professionals.


The Cyber security challenge is influencing Governments all over the world to make decisions to create special dedicated departments and to channel resources towards management of cyber-crime. In Zimbabwe Government created the short lived Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation, now a department under Ministry of Information Communication Technology, with the objective to manage cyber security, detect and mitigate cyber based security threats and ensuring appropriate, orderly and legitimate use of cyber technology for sustenance of national security and development.

Cyber technology has also changed structural arrangements of security departments within organisations. In the past security departments operated under the radar of CEOs or COOs. The network video surveillance systems we have today depend on IT software for video surveillance analytics and other security intelligence and management applications. It follows without question that the cyber technology revolution poses a real and serious impact on security management and the call for investment in human capital by both government and the private sector in order to facilitate appropriate response initiatives is loud and clear. It is in this respect that the Institute of Certified Loss management (ICLM) is offering cyber content in its training programmes. The inclusion of cyber security in this year’s professional convention is testimony of ICLM trust in this regard.


The changing face of the security management and loss control profession as cyber technology end users

As alluded to above, from the look of things, cyber security seems to be on top of the agenda for State and corporate institutions not in respect of understanding weaknesses of the current systems but in respect of mitigatingthe known related threats and exploring appropriate response measures. However development of measures that focus exclusively on cyber security is bound to yield limited and sub optimal results if less effort is puton continuing identification and mitigation of physical security threats that are known to pose more risks to organisations. The overshadowing of the broad subject of overall security may be attributable to the fact that cyber technology lies in the domain of IT professionals who are exclusively concerned with information security. Organisations have to realise that other than information resources institutions use a wide range of both physical and non-physical assets and resourceswhich ride on cyber infrastructure. Such assets and systems are exposed to various forms of other non-cyber security threats such as vandalism, time theft, abuse of office and concealed crimes. The inevitable interface of assets and infrastructure to cyber technology is simply bringing an additional and complicated aspect to the broad function of security management. There is more to be considered in dealing with the relationship between cyber and physical security in an institutional set up. Criminals and Terrorists now have access to cyber technology and capacity they would always want to use as means to pursue their long held criminal agenda to commit various crimes including disruption of public and private financial systems, operations and utility infrastructure. This scenario has resulted in the need for a solid integration of physical and IT security systems. Acquisition and sharing of relevant knowledge and collaboration between security professionals, irrespective their functional inclination, is now a necessity. It is now more common in change responsive organisations to have one Chief Security Officer overseeing both physical and IT Security. Such arrangement is desired for two reasons; (1) to close security gaps through integration and coordination of all security functions in an organisation, and (2) To manage the interfaced infrastructure of IP-based physical security and cyber technology platform.In this arrangement cyber security becomes a component of overall institutional security management and requires development of appropriate professional attitudes and cyber skills exposure.

The new security management landscape is not only characterised by cyber security challenges but also embedded with opportunities for security systems enhancement. Cyber interfaced facilities such as Monitoring Systems, Access Control, and Investigation tools, Biometric and Forensic Technologies (CBFT) also continue to impact on the need for employment of appropriate legal, policy and procedural framework at national and institutional levels. The framework is needed considering that Cyber-attacks are one of the defining security threats of our age. Input from the private security profession (including the fight against graft) is critical for the achievement of national economic and social security in addition to their primary role as custodians of corporate security systems. This role can only be achieved by a professionally organised private security industry and profession. ICLM accepts professional papers from professional who wish to contribute professionally for the benefit of other professionals within the private security and loss control industry.