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Computer, physical security expected to merge

Forrester research sees companies further integrating physical and network access. The trend could give providers an urge to merge.

Companies will increasingly integrate physical and computer security systems in 2005, spending over $1 billion in the United States and Europe, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Companies have generally treated physical security as part of the facilities department and computer security as part of the information-technology group. But employee information has increasingly become integrated, allowing businesses to link the two systems, Steve Hunt, an analyst with Forrester Research, said in this week's report.

"Locks, cameras, entry systems, and even guard desks will be upgraded to work with the same computing systems that control computer and network sign-on, identity management and security incident management," he said in the report. "Consequently, IT security vendors will rush to merge or find partnerships with their physical security brethren to respond to the new opportunities."

The link between physical security systems and network security is another ripple emanating from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Spending on such integration will double compared with 2004, reaching $1.1 billion in Europe and the United States in 2005, the report said.

Government projects to integrate physical and network security--such as the Transportation Worker's Identity Card mandated by the Transportation Security Agency and the Common Access Card used by the Department of Defense--will make up the lion's share of the money being spent, Forrester predicted. The federal government has focused on integrating physical and network security following the findings of the 9/11 Commission.