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With identity theft, data breaches, hackers and malware being part everyday life these days, most of us know how important cybersecurity is. However, physical security is equally important in businesses of all sizes and types. Even if you are a sole proprietor and work out of your home, you need to think about physical security.
Basic Elements Physical Security
The degree and type of physical security needed for a business varies a lot depending on its size and what kind of business it is. A physical security checklist for banks is going to be much more sophisticated than one for a neighborhood deli or the bookkeeping service you run from your spare room. But they all begin with the same basic elements:
- Alarm system
- Video surveillance
- Documents disposal
- A plan for when something goes wrong.
- Employee education
Physical Security Assessment Checklist
A vulnerability assessment should be part of any physical security evaluation. The assessment will identify what you need to add, repair or beef up. Use this physical security assessment checklist to evaluate the physical security of your business:
- Do all of the doors have heavy duty, preferable commercial grade locks? Who has keys?
- Are all entries, exits, windows and parking areas well lit?
- Do you have an alarm system? If not, get one. If so, is it modern, operating correctly and appropriate for the type of business you have?
- Do you have a video surveillance system? If not, you should.
- Do you have a way to protect and properly dispose of sensitive documents?
- Do you have an emergency evacuation plan?
- Are all of your employees trained on the emergency plan and other security procedures?
Avoid Common Mistakes
After you’ve used the facility security assessment checklist to identify vulnerabilities and you’ve taken care of them, don’t make easily avoidable mistakes. If you’ve ever watched the Investigation Discovery Channel, you know that video surveillance systems seem to work about half the time. And it’s not because the cameras are broken. It’s because they’re not turned on.
Another common mistake, even when a business has an emergency plan in place, is failing to educate employees on it. Ideally, your emergency plan should be written and given to every employee to read. Regular practice drills on the procedures are invaluable. If an emergency should occur, everyone knows what’s expected of them, even if they’re afraid and upset.
Don’t Forget to Limit Access
Keys should not be given to everyone. Only staff whose job duties require keys to the business should have them, and these individuals should be subject to a background check. Office keys should be stamped “do not duplicate.” If any keys are lost or a terminated employee leaves with them, every lock should be changed.
Similarly, access to sensitive information and documents should not be given to everyone. Access should be limited to trustworthy individuals who have been vetted, and who really need the information to carry out their job functions.
Have an Active Shooter Plan
It’s a sad fact of life these days that every business should have an active shooter plan in place. Even small businesses need to consider what to do if an employee’s domestic situation spills over into the workplace or a disgruntled employee decides to seek revenge.
Most of us have no experience with these situations, let alone how to deal with them. But you can find professional advice and guidelines online. Both the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security websites offer a lot of helpful information. The FBI’s Active Shooter Event Quick Reference Guide can serve as an outline for your own active shooter plan.
Sarie Robertson has been writing professionally since 2006. She writes for various online publications and is an expert in discussing English, British and Greek literature as well as U.S. and Chinese politics. Robertson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Loyola Marymount University.