Business security basics: What you need to know 

If you own a business, you have many factors to consider, not the least of which is protecting the safety of your staff and premises. In an always-connected digital world, you also need to take precautions with securing data, and those who travel for their work must stay safe on the road. With that in mind, here are business security basics.

Why security basics matter

Failing to take proper precautions can expose your organization to substantial liability. Worse, your brand reputation can suffer a staggering, sometimes fatal, blow if a preventable incident occurs on your premises. All business leaders should take the following steps.

1. Secure all entry points

You need to keep unauthorized individuals out of your building. Securing your entry points doesn’t only deter thieves — it can also provide valuable protection against mass shootings, which are a sad reality in America today.

Traditional keys pose significant risks. Disgruntled former employees could duplicate them to return, or they could get lost by accident. Many businesses have switched to keyless entry systems because they can quickly secure the premises by changing a single code.

The most secure entry system won’t protect you if your staff refuses to follow protocol. Make sure all employees know not to admit unauthorized individuals.

This rule applies even if the visitor looks official — nearly anyone can impersonate a delivery driver, especially in today’s age of DoorDash and Postmates. Hold routine security training with all staff members, including those who work remotely. You never know who may drop by and commit an unwitting mistake.

Should you hire a security guard? The decision is personal, but do complete a careful screening if you choose this route. The profession, unfortunately, contains a disproportionate number of criminals, so a thorough background investigation is a must.

2. Lights, camera, action

You want to illuminate the outside of your building and all interior corridors well for several reasons. If staff members work after dark, poor lighting conditions can lead to injury — and workers’ compensation claims.

Additionally, shadows provide the perfect hiding places for miscreants, especially if vulnerable employees must walk to their cars at night. Security cameras are helpful in several ways.

They protect you against frivolous insurance claims, as you can replay reported slip-and-fall accidents. Additionally, if you are the victim of theft, video evidence can help apprehend the culprit.

3. Understand digital security

Today’s always-connected world poses significant online threats. Investing in a VPN service for your organization is a must.

This software protects your network and proprietary information if remote or traveling employees log in via public Wi-Fi. You should also use two-factor authentications for all logins, and keep your software, including antivirus suites, up-to-date.

4. Protect yourself on business trips

Do you or your staff travel for business? While the coronavirus may have paused corporate excursions, when life returns to normal, you need to protect your people on the road.

When booking hotels, look for those that block access to guest floors by requiring keys to operate elevators. Thieves and others often target business travelers. Investigate the area crime rate and instruct employees to take precautions, such as hanging the Do Not Disturb sign when they leave the room to prevent unauthorized entry.

5. Have a plan B and plan C

If the COVID-19 outbreak taught society anything, it’s that it pays to be prepared. Do you know what you will do if a fire erupts in your building?

What if an active shooter situation occurs on campus? Design a companywide evacuation and security plan for such tragedies before they occur. That way, you don’t have to think about what to do in a panicked situation.

6. Screen all staff members

Security threats don’t only arise from people outside your organization. Like it or not, some former employees of prominent companies have committed atrocities. For example, Richard Farley, a software engineer at ESL Inc., went on a shooting rampage after rejection from a co-worker whom he stalked.

Always run thorough background checks on all staff members. It’s a wise idea when checking references to ask if they know anyone else who can offer insight into the applicant.

Often, a secondary person the prospective employee didn’t prep for the call will give more honest feedback, if for no other reason than you took them by surprise. That’s a consideration before hiring someone.

Keep in mind that many companies today have strict no-reference policies to protect against libel. So, don’t automatically blacklist a candidate who can’t get a letter from their last boss.

Do, however, ask for personal references if professional ones prove challenging to come by. Unless the person is a complete recluse, they will have one or two folks who can testify to their character.

Keep your business secure

Business security is critical. It protects the life and well-being of your staff, as well as your assets and proprietary information. In a changing and chaotic world, it pays to be prepared.

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