Returning to work with security in mind

Factoring in security for your return to work.

Lets face it, the overriding majority of us can agree on one thing – 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 have been turmoil for many businesses, and there’s not a single person in business who isn’t affected by the pandemic; some far worse than others. With this in mind, it’s great to see some green shoots of positivity coming out of Cardiff Bay and Westminster with regard to businesses being able to return to some kind of “normal” operation. Whether you’re returning to operations or simply returning to the office after an extended period working from home, change is around the corner for most of us.

As the world picks up speed, within the security industry it’s hard not to be looking to the middle-term where the sad reality is that many people are not going to be returning to work and as the level of government subsidy is dramatically reduced. History tells us that we are going to see an increase in criminal behaviour as people look to support themselves in any way they can. The information contained in this article isn’t a guarantee to not becoming a victim but rather a collection of experience that you can use as you see fit to make yourself a harder target. The sad fact is, security is not about guarantees; it’s about the guy next door being easier to breach than you… Its about the 60mm padlock needing an angle grinder when your neighbour’s 45mm padlock only needs a bolt cutter. It’s about your alarm being remotely monitored and attended whereas your neighbours only wakes up the industrial estate. It’s about knowing the threats and implementing controls where practical to mitigate the risks.

This article is a bit of a long read – but the good news is there’s a downloadable checklist that you can print out and use at the bottom!

One of the services we provide as a business is a site security audit where our assessor would look at the current security situation on your premises and provide recommendations to make it more secure. Today I want to share some of the areas we look at and reasons why they could be worth a moment of your time as your business returns from furlough. Some may not be immediately obvious as “security concerns” whilst others may feel like I’m telling Granny how to suck eggs, but they may all factor in a holistic approach to security.

Check your CCTV

Most buildings nowadays have CCTV systems of varying quality, but as we return to the office one area of security to check is the CCTV system to ensure it’s working optimally. Specific areas we’d recommend to check would be:

  • Cameras are angled where they need to be and haven’t dropped over the past year.
  • All cameras are both viewable in live-view mode and playback (we always check playback for both a daytime and a night time image. We’d also see how far back we can view to ensure you’re getting the retention you expect from your CCTV)
  • Check the lenses for spiders, watermarks and grime (Easiest way to see this is on night-time playback – its’ the most common cause of a cloudy or blurry image). If they’re accessible, lenses and domes can be cleaned with an appropriate non-abrasive cloth.
  • Check the firmware – If you have invested in thermal detection cameras, the firmware these shipped with may have been rushed out, and the algorithms in the latest revisions may have been finessed.
  • Check the location of your recorder – In many cases nowadays we hear of the CCTV “brain” actually being stolen as part of any burglary, thus taking valuable evidence with them. Where possible, have the CCTV recorder installed in a secure part of the building, and use secure retaining bolts or an armoured chassis to make stealing it very difficult.

Check your WOODWORK

If you’ve been working away from the premises for a while or running with a skeleton crew, it’s worth checking all of your doors and frames for any signs of rot and damage. We often see doors in lesser-used areas of premises where the woodwork has rotted away un-noticed for many years which creates a potentially serious security vulnerability. Whether the issue has developed through weathering or through slow and persistent leaks, the sooner you can manage the problem, the better.

Check your LOCK & KEY MANAGEMENT

How many of us have combination locks which haven’t been changed for years? More to the point, how many of us have combination locks which have never been changed from the factory default of 0000, 1234 or 9999? As we return to work, it’s worth considering who has the codes and who may not be returning to work; whether on your own team or that of any contractors who have previously been given access. When it comes to physical keys, it may be a worthwhile exercise to check your log of key holders and physically site each copy of the key to ensure you have an up-to-date snapshot of who has access and how many keys are potentially accessible to unauthorised parties.

If you have been in a position where you’ve had to lay off staff, as well as considering changing combinations and getting keys returned, many people overlook removing the person’s access from the access control system, meaning if a former member of staff still has their ID card or fob, they are still free to enter your premises, thus creating a security risk.

Check your YARD

Whether it’s tools left out or rubbish awaiting collection, there’s potential for items in your yard to both invite people in and give them a reason to stay. We’ve all done it – that pile in the corner of the car park that’s waiting on a new skip, or the pallets from last weeks delivery that are yet to be collected sitting by the gates; whilst nothing more than a little unsightly on the surface, the security risks from such things is not un-noticed.

  • Rubbish – Where possible, secure all rubbish away. Rubbish can attract people to investigate what you’re throwing out and rifle it for scrap; it can also attract more rubbish – we’ve seen an increase in client’s becoming victim to fly tipping where their small pile of rubbish has suddenly grown to a clean-up bill in to thousands of pounds.
  • Bins – Leading on from rubbish, wheelie bins can make excellent access platforms for someone looking to either tamper with high level security cameras or take advantage of a first-floor window being left ajar – for the most security benefits if possible, chain your bins up or lock them in a bin store away from the building. Nearly all recycling and waste companies will have the facility to keep bin-store codes on file which are given to the drivers on their route sheet.
  • Tools & Plant – How many of us have left a ladder tucked alongside the building or have a cherry picker left on site by contractors for sometimes days at a time? Not only are any tools that are left outside inviting people in to look around at what’s worth taking, something like a ladder or access platform is not only at risk of being stolen, but also a very useful tool when it comes to gaining access to your premises from the outside. Something as simple as a yard broom or gardener’s rake could be used to reach emergency exit buttons, or angle cameras away from their intended field of vision.

Check your ALARMS

We’re all familiar with the concept of intruder alarms. We know they make a noise when someone breaks in, and the idea is that people will hear the alarm and call for help and hopefully scare off the intruders in the process. The reality is that unless your alarm is effectively maintained and remotely monitored, the chances of an intruder being detected remain slim. How many times over the years have you had a door contact on an alarm stop working; only for those responsible to simply “zone out” that door when it comes to setting the system, or when an alarm does go off it turns out to be the same PIR that’s picking up heat from the radiators where it’s long since pointing the wrong way. A professionally installed and professionally monitored intruder alarm system is always the best option. Where businesses may have been closed, it’s worth getting your alarm installer to visit in order to carry out a maintenance visit where they can clean the contacts and make sure there are no faults; from an internal perspective, it’s worth checking your call out list is up to date, preferably using the services of an alarm response service working within British Standards that keeps your staff safe in the dead of night.

Check your LIGHTING

Another simple one – where you have outdoor lighting installed, there’s three key things to check in order to make sure that your lighting is doing the best it can for your business.

  • Do the lights work.
  • Do the motion sensors pick up motion in the expected area.
  • Do the lights interfere with any CCTV images; if they do, can they be changed so they don’t.

Check your FENCELINE

Simplicity in its core – As part of a security audit, we’ll always walk the client’s perimeter. We’re looking for climbable fencing, weak panels, rusty patches, unlocked gates and signs of burrowing that could be used to crawl underneath.

The fence line surrounding any business should be appropriate to the type of business and free from defects; where the fence is cable or mesh based it should be tensioned regularly to ensure it’s working optimally to prevent unauthorised access. All gates along the fence line should be appropriately locked and any lock mechanisms serviced and oiled in line with the manufacturer’s requirements. Where a gate features a “push to exit” button, these should be positioned a suitable distance from the gate and with shielding so as to prevent someone outside using something like a tree branch to push the button and open the gate.

Check your COMPUTERS

Forgetting the cost of a new PC for a moment, how much time would it take to recover the data on a stolen laptop, or even worse if one of your servers were taken? Not even including the risks if a data breach were to be identified it could be seriously damaging to the business. We recommend that all computer systems are locked away effectively; either in secure server rooms fitted with CCTV and alarms or in the case of laptops in fire rated data safes; designed perfectly to fit the width of a typical laptop. Where it’s impractical to stow hardware at the end of the day, the use of the “K-Lock” slot on many computer hardware items can be used to slow down and discourage the theft of equipment that isn’t locked away but should only be seen as a delaying method rather than an anti-theft solution.

Download our FREE security checklist.

Security is an ever-moving arena and sometimes getting in to the mindset of someone intent on causing problems for your business can be scary thought. At K9 Protection we work with our clients to reduce the security risks to their business and provide the manpower services they need to stay safe. Our service portfolio includes security guards, mobile patrols and alarm response services, along with temporary remotely monitored CCTV systems. As a business, K9 Protection Ltd have been trading since 2011 and are based in Newport where we cover the Cardiff Capital Region. If you’d like to talk to us about anything relating to your own security needs, please get in touch. We can be reached on 01633504543, or by clicking the contact us button further down the page.