Today, businesses must address and prepare for security threats that are larger and more varied than ever before. With each technological advancement that allows innovative, effective business strategies, comes a security threat that is equally innovative and equally effective.
Any assessment of an office security system should begin with specific security needs and the impacts they will have on your business as a whole. You may need a facility secure enough for UL 2050 certification or you may simply need to ensure your employees safety before and after business hours. Regardless, here are ten important ways to improve your office security system.
- Effective Communication: First and foremost is communicating information to and between employees. Many companies use email alerts to warn employees about would-be hackers. Likewise, be certain that employees remain updated on procedures and potential visitors. By letting employees know what and who to expect, they are better equipped to recognize suspicious activities or persons. In order to avoid complacency, try to use a single source of information that becomes part of an employee’s routine. This could be a daily server broadcast or informational email. Whatever the source, it should be brief, practical, and include positive news as well as precautionary information.
- Key Control: Assign the responsibility of locking or unlocking the office to as few individuals as possible. Eliminating the “first in, last out” method ensures that all access points are secured regularly. Create a procedure for those responsible for opening or closing your office that includes checking washrooms, closets, or anywhere someone might be able to hide. Hard keys should be numbered and assigned to specific individuals. employees assigned keys should periodically be asked to produce their keys to verify a master registry.
- Site-Wide Policies: Something as simple as a “clean-desk” policy, training all employees to clear and secure their desks of valuable equipment or information before leaving for the day, drastically reduces potential theft. Mandating employees to have and display ID badges or access cards at all times increases the visibility of any unauthorized persons. Don’t include job titles on any directory accessible to the general public as many criminals will use a name and title to justify their presence in restricted areas. Finally, make sure to maintain a “chain of possession.” Any deliveries should be handed to a person and not left in a hallway or on an unattended desk.
- Small Investments: All computers, laptops especially, should be secured with cable or plate locks to avoid “walk-off.” Docking stations are relatively inexpensive ways to protect electronic devices when not in use. Pay close attention to high-risk targets like state-of-the-art equipment, postage meters, check writers, and company checkbooks. Improve doors by installing peepholes and keypads. Utilize two locked doors surrounding a small lobby or foyer. This type of “airlock” system eliminates piggybacking, a method criminals use to gain entry by catching a locked door as an employee exits.
- Anti-Virus: While it is extremely unusual for a company not to have anti-virus software in this day and age, it is impossible to overstate its importance. High-end protection from viruses, spyware, malware, Trojans, and worms is one of the shrewdest investments an office can make. This includes firewall protection for your main system, security for your wireless Internet routers, and securing backups of all data, preferably off-site, for recovery in the event of a cyber attack.
- Lights, Camera, Layout: Be aware of “dark spots” both inside and outside your office. Install adequate lighting in parking lots and outdoor break areas for employee safety, eliminate blind areas in stairwells, and arrange hallways and offices to remove any places where someone could conceal himself or stolen items. Short of CCTV, discussed below, it may be worthwhile to install recording security cameras at key areas like loading bays and access points like after-hours entrances.
- Reception: Among the more complete solutions is to employ one or more full time receptionists. From a security system standpoint, this person allows for close inspection of credentials and identification and funnels security information through a single point. If it is impractical to have each visitor greeted and checked-in by a person, consider a dedicated phone line in your lobby or at your front door that goes only to a designated receiver. This method, combined with a sign-in station, can be a cost effective strategy for many offices.
- Access Control System: One of the difficulties with hard keys is reacting when one is lost or stolen. With an access control system, businesses can issue access cards to employees while maintaining complete control over what each card will open. Moreover, access control systems minimize risk by allowing only enough access to complete a job. Thus, employees, contractors, or visitors can be restricted by area or time of day. Two things are critical with access control systems. First, allow “total access” to as few individuals as possible. This will clarify who is authorized to be where and thereby enable employees to recognize and report infractions. Second, monitor the use of each card. By reviewing card activity, you can determine who needs access to where and at which times, streamlining routines and defining access.
- Closed Circuit Television (CCTV): For higher end security system needs, CCTV is one of the most effective methods of protection. Through limited broadcast, each camera can be monitored through a single interface. Depending on the specifics of the system, footage can be monitored by an employee or digitally recorded. Place cameras strategically to achieve the maximum coverage for a single unit. Likewise, cameras or corresponding signs that are visible to guests and employees can be effective deterrents and create a safe environment. It is important to remember, however, that as effective as CCTV is, it should be used efficiently and in tandem with other measures. For example, installing a unit in an entry with an “airlock” door system allows extended footage of a person(s) entering or exiting the premises.
- Proper Training: Above all, make sure each of your employees is adequately trained to use security equipment and follow procedures. Investment and planning in the best security system will have little impact if individuals are unclear on precaution and intervention. This may be as simple as making sure employees keep doors and windows secure or protect their personal belongings, but often entails specific training on identifying and responding to suspicious items, persons, or events.