7 Perimeter Security Best Practices

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7 Perimeter Security Best Practices

The Modern Perimeter Security System

Perimeter security origins can be traced back to the Roman Empire in 122AD. Although the purpose of the Roman Hadrian’s Wall varies theoretically, most agree it was built for on their western frontier bordering Britain for defense purposes. The same holds true for perimeter security. In most instances, perimeter security is designed solely for keeping out intruders or containing captives.

Governments and civilians alike have used this kind of security for purposes ranging from defensive safety to commerce and theft prevention. While the underlying concept of perimeter security has gone mostly unchanged since the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, the strategy and technology used in modern systems are undoubtedly improved. These changes push security teams to stay up to date with the technological advancements of their industry or face the consequence of using outdated solutions.

Physical perimeter systems are only as effective as your weakest link. Deploying one piece of intrusion detection technology that doesn’t have an established low false alarm rate can be killer to even the most up-to-date perimeter defense systems. Here are seven areas to think about when deploying a perimeter security system:

1. Direct Perimeter Security

A physical fence or wall is almost always the baseline perimeter security solution for any facility or asset. That being said, there’s a lot more to protecting important assets than throwing up a barrier. Even utilizing products like security cameras, anti-climbing spikes, barbed wire, or breach alarms only cover a few basic intrusion detection options. All of these products, while essential, still leave your security team blind beyond the immediate perimeter.

Understanding what goes on within and directly around your immediate physical perimeter is only a small piece of what’s needed to truly protect your facility or asset. To truly be successful one must not only protect his immediate perimeter but also must be able to detect and identify threat activities before they’re able to attempt a breach. Being able to identify a threat before they breach your facility is critical if you desire to avoid damage or harm.


2. Threat Recognition

To effectively protect a facility or asset, you have to recognize the presence of a threat early on. If you can detect the threat, then you can often deduce their likely operations and intent. By doing this, you’re able to respond more effectively to potentially stop or mitigate any possible damage, trespassing, or theft that might occur. An effective threat recognition system should be highly reliable with minimal false alarms. The best systems have the ability to track suspicious movement over long distances, some as far out as five miles away.

The manner of detection and presentation should be dynamic enough to facilitate a meaningful and measured response. A good perimeter security system should be able to monitor continuously, regardless of external factors like weather or terrain obstacles.

3. Automatic Detection Systems

The elements of surprise and quick action are advantageous in neutralizing a threat. Automating your detection not only improves response time but also reduces your staff’s workload eliminating the need for constant patrols. Automatic detection works best in distant areas where security deployment may take an extended amount of time or at extremely sensitive assets with a limited response window, like a substation.

Unattended ground sensors, GPS locators, slewing Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) cameras, automated intruder tracking, or light sensors that automatically activate are just a handful of tools you can combine to develop an automated system. Organizations need to think beyond physical fences and line of sight cameras, with techniques like seismic sensors and thermal imaging to enhance your perimeter. These technologies work together to create a layered defense system.

4. Deterring Suspicious Activity

Once the automatic systems detects or IDs a potential threat, the first step is to assess the situation. To protect the integrity of your perimeter security, determine the appropriate level of response prior to attempting to interdict any threat.

Often, a potential threat is merely attempting to gauge your available level of response to expose your tactics and level of proficiency, so incremental approaches in the magnitude of your response should always be considered. One of the more simple and most often used deterrents is a two-way audio system through a process referred to as ‘talk down.’ Talk down is commonly used in off limit areas like barracks, prisons, substations, and nuclear facilities. Commands are given to an intruder, and their reaction is analyzed by video or other means. If the response proves to be inappropriate, more serious steps can be taken.

5. Defense and Handling

After a threat has been evaluated at the deterrent stage, it is now time to act. Often, the first line of defense is to delay the intrusion to allow for a response. One way you can effectively do that is by use of access control systems. They are commonly used at access points in airports, train stations, and corporate offices with sensitive information.

A good Virtual Memory System (VMS) integrates electronic systems-CCTV, video, GPS, emails-with identification systems and personnel to prevent entrance without access credentials, or initiate a lockdown to trap an intruder in a certain area. Features like radio dispatch can be added to the VMS for maximum effectiveness.

6. Surveillance Detection

Monitoring potential threats as they survey your assets is important for a strong perimeter security system. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to do in rough, remote, or secluded areas. Often the best way to detect surveillance is by integrating multiple systems together. Often referred to as sensor fusion, capabilities such as alarm systems, sensors, and video surveillance equipment should communicate directly with each other, automatically as a single function.

Sensors aid camera blind spots while alarm systems act as triggers when threat reconnaissance has been picked up. Use routes, corridors, and other key locations to position your systems. Surveillance detection is mostly used by military, security, and border patrol personnel, but is rapidly picking up steam in the commercial market.

7. Threat Pattern Analysis

Surveillance detection can be considered part of threat analysis. However, threat pattern analysis takes your security efforts to the next level. With the analysis of areas outside your fixed site perimeter, security teams can determine baseline activity patterns and anomalies to that baseline long before they ever become a threat in the first place. Threat pattern analysis takes place far from the direct perimeter of your asset. Products like the Pathfinder unattended ground sensor provide threat analysis capability while keeping the threat unaware of such potential.

Our Pathfinder security expert, Rob Jones, recommends you, “secure the right space, not the whole space.” It’s not about the number of sensors but the quality of emplacement with respect to the likelihood of threat activity. Using key operational and tactical emplacements to conduct threat pattern analysis and surveillance detection capability can greatly reduce your overall security costs, making them much more affordable and easier to manage.

Perimeter security is always more effective when stand-off situational awareness exists. Detecting and monitoring threats, BEFORE, they get to the ‘wall’ is critical to prevent a breach. Threat pattern analysis does just that. Footstep or other motion detection sensors can be used to facilitate such analysis and improve upon your existing and more traditional security measures.


Every facility, asset, organization, and industry have different security requirements. Whatever those requirements might be, keeping in mind these seven steps will set your perimeter security deployment on the right track. Pathfinder has deployed more than 50,000 ground sensors all over the world. Companies need to feel confident that the security solutions they select, provide them low false alarm rates and high probabilities of detection. Pathfinder does that and so much more. Are you interested in what Pathfinder has to offer your security team?

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