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Josh Ablett

Physical Security Checklist

October 10, 2020

Use this checklist to evaluate your physical security risk, and what you can do to prevent break-ins, harm to employees, legal liability, and security breaches.


  • Building is surrounded by intact fence (no holes, gaps, streams under fence, etc.)
  • Clear zone of at least 20’ exists both inside and outside of entire fence
  • Fence is monitored by security cameras and/or guards
  • Fence is inspected regularly (how often _____________)
  • No vegetation (where someone could hide) grows within 20’ of building perimeter
  • Area within 20’ of building perimeter is well lit at night with lights that (1) have auxiliary power source and (2) turn on automatically at dusk
  • Parking area is monitored by security cameras and/or guards
  • Parking area is well lit at night


  • Electricity received from two separate substations or, better, two separate power plants
  • Phone/network connectivity is available from multiple providers
  • Power/phone/network lines are underground, if possible
  • Water is available from multiple sources (including well)
  • Dumpsters contain no sensitive trash and are monitored by cameras
  • Alarm system is monitored, regularly tested, and has auxiliary power source
  • Alarm panel is secured behind locked door
  • Alarm panel offers a duress code
  • Generator(s) are alarmed
  • Building is protected by fire alarm and sprinkler system.
  • Fire detection equipment is inspected and regularly tested.
  • Contact information for fire / burglar alarm companies is easily accessible

For Each Exterior Door or Gate

  • Closes securely and does not need repair
  • Outside hinges hidden/protected from vandalism
  • Ideally requires automated unique identifier to open (swipe card, badge, retina, fingerprint).
    Less ideal: key access, shared code access
  • If keys exist, they’re all stamped with “Do Not Duplicate”
  • Access is disabled when an employee leaves the company. If key-based, locks are changed
  • Automatically locks when closed, but still able to open from the inside.
  • Will sound alarm if propped open or if employees should not be using during business hours
  • Alarmed during non-business hours
  • Monitored by a receptionist, security guard, etc. during business hours
  • Monitored by a monitored/recorded security camera
  • If regularly left open, secured from the inside with a locked gate
  • Well lit from the outside at night
  • All exterior windows (esp. on first floor) alarmed and protected with locks/mesh.
  • Roof access (doors, skylights) securely locked from the inside and alarmed.
  • Basement doors / man-sized ducts are securely locked from the inside and alarmed.

Each Work Area

  • Visitors are controlled through a combination of visitor badges, visitor logs, and constantly being escorted. Visitors cannot access work areas without these measures.
  • Employees are trained to greet any unknown visitors
  • Computers are marked with clear asset tags and/or engravings
  • Computers provide information before login about who to contact if lost or stolen
  • Computers are physically locked to work areas
  • Computers are not visible from first floor windows and monitors are turned off overnight (to suppress monitor glow)
  • Computer are plugged into surge protection devices
  • Sensitive paper records are either kept in locked file cabinets or are shredded
  • Areas with key paper records are protected by fire detection and sprinkler systems
  • Cleaning staff always work in groups of two
  • Each work area has fire extinguishers which are periodically inspected/tested
  • Fire alarm systems are tested periodically through live drills
  • Building is equipped with multiple staircases, fire stairwells and/or fire escapes
  • Any areas with drop ceilings prevent access to sensitive areas (e.g., wire mesh)
  • Sensitive areas don’t allow access (e.g., air ducts, drop ceilings) from public areas
  • Emergency lighting exists in the event of a power outage
  • Floors are clear of wiring, or wiring is permanently attached to floor
  • Outlets are not overloaded with cords
  • The key controls listed in this checklist are explained in employee training and policy

Each Computer Room

  • No window to the outside (unless required for fire laws)
  • No more than two doors, all fireproof, all close securely and not in need of repair
  • Doors are controlled by automatic authentication with limited number of people who access.
  • Door hinge pins are concealed or welded to prevent removal from outside.
  • Doors have signage indicating restricted access, food/drink/smoking not allowed
  • Room has access to redundant power, network, and cooling
  • The temperature is kept between 55-75% and humidity is between 20-80% and is automatically monitored
  • Protected by total flooding agent (e.g., halon) sprinkler system (NOT wet sprinkler system)
  • Room has sufficient fire extinguishers
  • Room has emergency power off switches
  • Systems are protected by UPS and/or generator for no less than 24 hours.
  • Contract is in place for a week’s worth of fuel on demand.
  • Emergency power is regularly tested.
  • Cleaning staff are never left unattended in room.
  • Room is alarmed after hours.
  • Computer room is not located under any plumbing or rooms with water.
  • Smoke and heat alarms are installed inside and directly outside computer room.
  • Computer room has manual fire alarms.
  • Emergency lighting in the event of a power outage
  • Servers are physically locked within the computer room.
  • Computers are marked with clear asset tags and/or engraving

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed?

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