Cybersecurity is critical for every enterprise, but sometimes companies focus so much on protecting their digital assets that they overlook physical building security.
Don’t wait until you’re a victim of a burglary or security breach to upgrade your building security. Here are seven critical elements you need to have to protect your employees and your physical assets.
7 Building Security Essentials
1. Initial and Ongoing Risk Assessment
The first step in developing an effective building security program is to identify existing and potential vulnerabilities. Consider factors like the number of entrances and exits, the size of your facilities and how many individuals have access to them.
You should also take into account your industry and business type. For example, a financial services company will face different risks than an eCommerce business and will therefore need to take a different approach to building security.
Additionally, the location of your organization will have an impact on the types of security threats you potentially face. For instance, if your building is located on the first floor in the midst of a busy metro area, you may need to take extra precautions. Once you have identified your unique security risks, analyze your current security program to see which threats haven’t been addressed at all or have been inadequately addressed. Then, explore the various options you have to reduce these liabilities, whether it’s adding security personnel, updating technology or both.
Since your company’s exposure to risk will evolve as you grow, it’s important to regularly perform these assessments to ensure your organization is properly protected.
2. Workplace Policies and Procedures
Using the results of your risk assessment, establish formal building security protocols. These include rules like requiring every visitor and contractor to check in, restricting who is allowed in the building before and after work hours or on the weekend and instructing employees to wear ID badges while on site.
Keep in mind there will be people who regularly enter the facility who aren’t employees —such as cleaning crews, food vendors and delivery drivers. Be sure your policies include guidelines for these visitors. Impress upon employees the seriousness of these procedures and limit the ability to make exceptions to as few people as possible.
In addition to protocols for building access, establish procedures for emergencies and security breaches—including active shooter preparedness and response. Employees should know exactly what to do in these situations so they can stay calm and keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
3. Workplace Security Personnel
Smaller organizations may be able to refrain from having security officers on site, but large enterprises should have full-time security personnel. You can either hire them directly or you can partner with a third-party contracting company.
While having a dedicated security team offers certain advantages, outsourcing security has its benefits as well. It may be easier to find personnel with specific expertise, and you won’t have to spend time hiring and managing additional employees.
4. Access Control And Visitor Management Systems
At every point of entry into your facilities, you need a security officer, access-control technology and possibly both.
One example of access-control technology is an ID badge or keycard system. These systems prevent unauthorized visitors from gaining access to your facility by requiring every employee and guest to swipe a badge or card before entering.
If you decide to use one of these systems, it’s a good idea to work with the vendor who installed your existing alarm system to ensure the badge or keycard system integrates properly with the current infrastructure. This is also a good time to upgrade your alarm system so you can take advantage of new features like sophisticated intrusion detection.
Another essential part of a robust access-control system are kiosks connected to visitor management software. With visitor management software, you can cross-check visitors against a security watchlist, helping to keep unwanted guests out. You can print temporary security badges with expiration dates. You also have a digital record with photo identification of everyone in your building, which could be helpful in case of an emergency.
These technologies, along with security officers, considerably reduce opportunities for anyone to enter your facility without permission or under false pretenses.
5. Workplace-Specific Strategies
Different commercial buildings need different types of security systems. In addition to general company-wide policies, you should implement procedures and protocols that are most appropriate for the building.
Your security strategies should be based on which threats and risks are most likely to occur in that part of the facility. For instance, parking garages are a common location for both violent and property crimes, so while you can use the same badging system for your parking structure and your office buildings, your parking facilities should also have a much more expansive security camera system as well as emergency call boxes.
Another example is the number of security personnel. It may not be necessary to have security officers constantly monitoring the exterior of your main building, but for a warehouse that has varying levels of staff or is frequently unoccupied, it might be a good idea to schedule regular security patrols—particularly at night.
6. Internal Access Controls
Unfortunately, it’s not just external security threats you need to worry about. According to research conducted by IT management software provider Ipswitch, nearly 75 percent of security breaches were caused by an employee, either deliberately or accidentally.
ID badge or keycard systems aren’t just effective at restricting access to the facility itself; they also prevent employees from going into parts of the building where they aren’t allowed. Rather than an entry-only system where a badge or key card is only required at building entrances, you can use a badging system that requires everyone to have a badge or key card to access specific floors or parts of the building.
Along with controlling access to high security areas and implementing official security policies, train employees on best practices for building security, including being proactive and having strong situational awareness so they can identify potential threats.
7. Proper Building Maintenance
Sophisticated technology and trained security personnel can go a long way to improving your building security. But so can proper maintenance. Something as small as a door that won’t close properly or a window that always get stuck can be enough to put your facility at risk. Having adequate, reliable exterior lighting is also a relatively small action that can have a huge impact on the security of your buildings.
That’s why preventative maintenance is a crucial part of an effective building security strategy. With preventative maintenance, rather than waiting until there’s a problem, your facilities team can make ongoing repairs before there’s a major issue or outage.
In addition to preventative maintenance, implementing service request software can help nip potential security issues in the bud. Facilities managers simply can’t be everywhere at once, which means employees need to be able to easily report potential security issues like broken locks and burnt out bulbs. With service request software, any member of the workforce can submit a ticket to the facilities team with just a few clicks from wherever they happen to be with their mobile device or on their desktop.
Building Security Is A Critical Step You Can’t Afford To Skip
Every employee deserves to feel and stay safe at work. That makes building security a non-negotiable. While you may not be able to eliminate every potential threat, taking these important steps can substantially reduce vulnerabilities.
And with the right policies and the right technology, you’ll make everyone feel more at ease. You could even save a life.