Modern businesses face a world of potential security threats that were literally unimaginable just a few years ago. There are any number of technological innovations available that dramatically change the way organizations work and make their members more productive; each one of these innovations carries with it new security issues that need to be addressed.
As with most processes in business, an assessment of your office’s security needs to start with a clear understanding of your goals. What are your priorities? Do you simply need to provide a safe environment for your employees when they’re arriving and departing? Does your facility need to meet certain security requirements for formal certification (e.g. UL2050)? No matter what your security goals are, these ten principles should be useful.
1) Clear Communication
It’s impossible to address your security needs if you don’t know what they are, and you’re not going to know that if you have poor communications with your team. You’ll need good two-way communications to keep your organization secure; you need a channel for updating team members about new security concerns as well as one for them to pass you their concerns. You should have a centralized source for all security information to cut down on confusion; your employees should be clear about their go-to resource for security news. Distribute security updates regularly, and try to include positive news along with information about security threats.
2) Access Control
Don’t give out keys (or access codes, etc.) to more employees than strictly need them. Instead of relying on the very fallible “first in, last out” plan for securing your office, assign access point security as a fixed responsibility to specific individuals. Develop and document a thorough and consistent plan for opening and closing your office; make sure this includes checking potential hiding spots like closets, bathrooms, and so on. For physical keys, make sure you get a locksmith to ensure copy is numbered and the assignment of keys to individual employees is recorded. Verify your key registry regularly by having employees present the keys assigned to them.
3) Consistent General Policies
Make sure every member of your organization follows procedures consistent with minimizing your security risks. Implementing a clean desk policy, for example, will cut down on potential targets for theft. If you are using access cards, ID badges, or other forms of personal security, make sure that you have standard policies for carrying and displaying them. Hold everyone using such ID to the same standards. In company directories that are publically accessible, don’t include job titles with names. This makes it harder for criminals or other unwanted intruders to use names and titles to bluff their way onto your premises. Finally, establish receipt procedures that preserve a clear chain of possession for all incoming deliveries. Deliveries should never be left unattended.
4) Make Small But Crucial Security Investments
Protect your IT resources from theft by using locks (cable or plate variety) to secure your computers. This is especially important for laptops. Setting up docking stations can be both convenient and security-conscious. Take extra care with especially valuable or tempting office equipment, including postage meters, check writers, precision machinery, and company checkbooks. Doors between secure and non-secure areas should have keypad locks and peepholes. At especially vital access points, establish an “airlock” entry that forces authorized individuals to pass two locked doors. This makes it difficult for criminals to “piggyback” their way in by following your employees or catching doors when they leave.
5) Cyber Security
It’s virtually impossible to overstate the importance of antivirus software in the modern business environment. Every company needs ample protection against online threats including viruses, Trojans, malware, and other potential problems. Your primary network should be protected by a robust firewall. All wireless routers need security protocols. Your data needs to be backed up regularly, and storing backups off-site is an excellent idea.
6) Security = Good Lighting
Do a thorough survey of your office and look for dark spots both indoors and outdoors. Make sure outdoor areas that are used by your employees (including parking lots and break areas) are provided with ample lighting. Inside, check to ensure that all of your stairwells are well-lit and your hallways are free of clutter that could offer concealment for intruders or stolen goods. Even if you don’t install a full-on surveillance system as described below, it may be an excellent idea to install security cameras in vital areas such as all-hours doors or loading docks.
7) The Receptionist As A Security Asset
Many companies, especially small ones, try to economize by doing without a receptionist. Consider the security value that a dedicated receptionist provides before you choose to omit this position. Visitor identification can be thoroughly inspected and verified, and a competent receptionist can function as a clearinghouse for security information. If you don’t opt for a dedicated in-person receptionist, at least dedicate a phone line at your public access point and run it to a single receiver. Visitors should also be presented with a sign-in station before they gain entry to your office or use a visitor management system.
8) The Value Of Access Control
Hard keys have certain limitations; one of the most important you need to account for is what to do when a key goes missing. An access control system which uses programmable access cards gives you far more control over what each card does. There’s also a significant advantage to such systems in that each individual user receives no more access than is necessary to do his or her job. You can set up restrictions by area and time of day to moderate what each person can do. Be careful that only employees that truly need it receive total access to your system. Additionally, you should have procedures in place for recording and reviewing the use of individual access cards. This makes it easier to spot unauthorized activity.
9) CCTV Surveillance
When your need for security is especially acute, closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance becomes useful or even required. One interface can be set up to monitor the video captured by multiple cameras. You may have your surveillance footage monitored in real time, recorded for later review, or a combination of the two. Besides providing you with efficient records, a properly-positioned surveillance system can act as a deterrent by discouraging unwanted behavior by both employees and outsiders.
All of the procedures and equipment in the world won’t keep your office safe if your employees don’t know how to use them properly. Everyone who works on the premises should be thoroughly trained in how to keep the business secure. Make sure all the members of your team know how to respond to specific security issues (e.g. suspicious individuals or packages).