As a small business owner, you have a thousand things to think about each day, a thousand hats to wear. You want your focus to be on your core business activities, but in these turbulent times, neglecting your security program can leave your business open to crime, cyberattacks and other serious and costly liabilities. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your business is protected.
Assessing your security needs
The basis for any security program is a Security Risk Assessment. Identifying the assets you wish to protect, then the potential risks to those assets, will help you to focus in on the best security measures and processes for you. Examine the geographic area around your business. What potential problems might arise from the buildings and people nearby? Talk to your local law enforcement or collect data from a community crime map, such as Lexis Nexis, to determine your potential risk of crime victimization.
Now that you know the risks you face outside your business, it’s time to turn inward and assess your business’ security posture as it is now.
First, make sure your physical place of business is properly secured. Check all door locks and window latches to make sure they are structurally sound and in good working order. Replace any that stick or show signs of wear, such as cracking or warping. Consider upgrading window hardware for a low-cost option to increase building security. Click here for a short video on window locking options.
If your business is on ground level, consider planting shrubs in front of ground floor windows to deter anyone from peeking in. Trim overgrown shrubs to eliminate potential hiding places. Make sure your entryways, parking lots, fire exits, alleyways and trash disposal areas are well-lit and free of obstructions.
If the geographic area is highly populated, located in proximity to schools, or in an area with a high concentration of homelessness, consider adding a fence around your property’s perimeter, to deter trespassers.
A solid security program is multi-layered and utilizes a variety of measures to deter crime, detect intrusions and reduce liabilities. A basic electronic security program can reduce your risk of crime victimization by as much as 53%, according to a recent published at Security.org.
Intrusion detection (alarm) systems come in a variety of forms. The most common alarms used are door and window contact sensors, and motion detection sensors, but there is a wide array of sensors, including glass break sensors, heat detection, even sound and vibration detection.
Camera surveillance is a critical part of any modern security program. Surveillance cameras not only capture video evidence of any activities in your business, but they provide a deterrent effect to would-be criminals. Posting signs alerting the public to your surveillance activities will further increase the deterrent effect.
Unfortunately, not all criminals will be deterred by these measures. A 2016 literature review by the University of Tennessee found camera surveillance is most effective when combined with other methods of security. Consider hiring a company that does Real-Time Live Surveillance Monitoring. This means a trained and licensed surveillance officer will monitor your cameras after hours and alert you or the authorities to any unauthorized activities observed.
In these times where phishing, hacking, and malware are constant threats, cybersecurity is absolutely crucial. The recent threats of cyberattacks from Russia have made this a top of mind concern for many business owners. To protect your business make sure you keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available. Make sure you have a strong firewall protecting your network and you have secured all WiFi networks, by hiding the network name on your router and securing the router with password access only. Read here for more tips from the FCC on Cybersecurity for the small business.
Procedural security is often the most overlooked aspect of a security program. But your security program is only as strong as the people working in it. It is critical that your employees, subcontractors and vendors know and understand your security procedures. Establish a key control policy: a procedure for distributing and tracking keys and keyholders. Establish access control policies. Consider these questions: Who will have access to your business? Are there sensitive areas or confidential information I need to protect? What measures will be used to protect them and who will be responsible for that procedure?
Asset protection is not the only consideration in this part of the security assessment. Emergency situations which create risk to life must also be considered and prepared for. Make sure you have emergency plans in place for the most common emergency situations encountered. What are your evacuation procedures in a fire situation? Establish meeting places for evacuation situations and communication policies for communicating with your staff in any emergency situation. Consider what you would do if your primary communication systems are unavailable. Think through the most crucial activities in your business and develop a plan for continuity in emergency situations.
Developing a strong security program can be complicated and there are many different protection measures that you can implement. But implementing the wrong measures can leave you with an expensive and ineffective program. Consider hiring a security expert to visit your business and perform a risk assessment. This person should be able to deliver an assessment of your risk and recommend your most cost-effective methods of mitigating those risks.
National Protective Services, Inc. is here to help you.
National Protective Services is a family owned and operated security company founded in 1979. Our 40+ years’ of experience have enabled us to respond to the constantly evolving needs of the communities we serve and to stay at the cutting edge of our industry. Contact us today to schedule a FREE on-site consultation and let us show you how it feels to be “Protected Like Family”