Concerns about security are growing among workplaces everywhere. Data breaches, accidents, and acts of violence can occur at any company. Employees are starting to ask whether they are genuinely safe. Meanwhile, administrators are beginning to take workplace security more seriously. However, how do you even start dealing with workplace security?
At its core, workplace security is all about protection. Employees and other stakeholders should have a secure environment through proper workplace security. A multi-layered approach is necessary to attain adequate security. Hence, companies should educate themselves about how to implement workplace security.
Workplace security is easy to recognize but hard to implement. This article will help companies regarding workplace safety and security because it answers some common questions that people may have regarding workplace security. Readers will first know about the basics of workplace security. They will then know more about implementing preventive measures and dealing with crises. There is a section on digital security, followed by general tips and trick to securing the work environment.
In businesses, security usually takes a backseat over other goals, such as maximizing profits or hiring talented employees. Many people believe that any threats are unlikely, especially if they think that their company is not big or prominent enough to become a target. People have this implicit belief that danger only happens in other companies.
However, the danger is more common than many people realize. From unauthorized visitors to full-blown terrorist attacks, security threats lurk everywhere. The rise of modern technology also allowed new forms of attacks to emerge in the digital world. Hundreds of companies have already experienced infiltration from external sources, and many more companies are vulnerable due to improper security.
For these reasons, workplace security is more critical than ever.
Workplace security concerns itself with protecting companies and their employees from threats. This protection can manifest in the form of limiting outside access and keeping risks from entering the company. Workplace security also includes reducing the probability of accidents occurring. Appropriate crisis response, including recovery and rehabilitation, also falls under the domain of workplace security.
In a nutshell, workplace security gives people a workplace where they feel safe and secure.
Security guards do play critical roles when it comes to enforcing security procedures. However, they can only do so much. Threats can strike anytime and can come from anywhere, including from the employees themselves. Relegating security duties to security personnel alone will drastically reduce their effectiveness, especially for companies that house hundreds of people.
A secure company involves the active participation of everyone. All employees should have basic knowledge of what to do in the case of emergencies. They should follow the security protocols imposed by the company. Finally, they should be on the lookout for threats, proactively dealing with anything they find.
No one wants to work in a place where they feel that their lives are in danger. One of the worst things that could occur to a company is if it develops a reputation for being a place that is not safe to work in, and such a company would find it hard to hire applicants and to retain employees.
Most people consider security as a basic necessity. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places safety as one of our deepest needs. Hence, companies are obligated to ensure that their work environment is safe for everyone.
Insecure workplaces can quickly become targets. A disgruntled employee might suddenly decide to assassinate the company leaders, and an argument might evolve into an exchange of blows. Terrorists might swoop in and cause a hostage situation, killing scores of people in the process.
Rival companies might steal confidential information and use that to their advantage. Hackers might gain access to employee records, modifying them as they wish and criminals might take cash and expensive equipment.
Less obviously, workplace security also impacts performance. Employees who feel unsafe become ineffective and less happy with their jobs. Their cognitive performance suffers due to the stress caused by a lack of security. Overall, the company will suffer from poor performance.
Due to lack of awareness, many employees do not realize the importance of workplace security. A lot of people are lenient when it comes to enforcing rules meant to protect against threats. Organizations should make people aware that security involves everyone.
The rise of the Internet and other related technologies also paved the way to new ways of attack. Criminals from potentially anywhere around the globe can now break through digital barriers, accessing company information and stealing data. Hackers can direct a denial-of-service attack by overloading corporate servers, causing them to shut down. Any modern establishment should have measures in place to deal with these digital threats.
Indeed, timely prevention is better than any cure. One of the primary roles of workplace security is to stop threats from becoming problems in the first place. Hence, there is a significant emphasis on preventive measures for maintaining peace and order.
Security procedures can be complicated, involving multiple people and tasks. The high complexity means that people can easily overlook specific considerations. It only takes one mistake to undermine security, as criminals can easily exploit security holes. Therefore, there should be a way to go about ensuring safety comprehensively.
Security protocols work by decoupling planning and execution. After the company set the plans, employees can focus on implementation. By reducing their cognitive load, employees are far less likely to make mistakes.
Access generally translates to power. People who have access to certain areas will be able to use the resources located in those areas, which they can use to further their cause. For instance, someone who has access to data servers has unparalleled access to the information managed by the company.
Access to power should have limits, especially for unauthorized personnel. Access control solves this problem by restricting access to certain areas.
Some areas are more delicate than others. An obvious example would be control centers, as intruders who gain access to these areas can achieve significant levels of access to the rest of the establishment. Other divisions that need to be secured include human resources and finance departments, as these stores potentially sensitive information about the company and its employees.
Of course, there should be access control for the entire establishment. Unauthorized people should find it difficult to gain access to any part of the company.
A typical system involves electronic locks, which rely on magnets and other electronics to function. When coupled with backup power, these locks can be complicated to bypass. Electronic locks also allow the use of key cards and other devices that can unlock them. (Check out our article on Efficient Workplace Secuirty Devices)
In many cases, companies use biometrics as these devices rely on biological characteristics of the person which are difficult to duplicate. These devices can include fingerprint scanners, voice detectors, and face recognition cameras, among others.
Fooling biometrics is plausible, but it usually requires disproportionate amounts of effort. If they wish, administrators can make biometrics more reliable by using multiple layers of protection. For example, a fingerprint scan coupled with an iris scan can be used to allow access to sensitive areas.
Some biometrics are also better than others. For example, palm scanners are more robust than fingerprint scanners, as it is harder to duplicate a handprint than a fingerprint.
People typically underestimate walls. Perhaps this is because walls look unimpressive compared to higher forms of technology. It is also true that ladders and other tools can bypass these barriers.
However, walls still serve a purpose by increasing the time and effort required to breach security. Intruders are more likely to be caught before they can do damage. Walls also serve a psychological function by giving the impression that the firm takes security seriously, which can be enough to deter would-be attackers.
Gates represent potential security holes, as by definition they allow the transport of people and goods in and out of a secured space. However, proper management should be able to mitigate these risks.
Establishments should construct gates of sturdy materials that can withstand attack. They should also be well-maintained and regularly checked for deterioration. Guards should be stationed near gates so that they could intervene quickly in emergencies. Security should thoroughly test the visitors for any dangerous items. Finally, they should continuously monitor these barriers, even if only through security cameras.
Surveillance forms an integral part of security, and closed-circuit television (or CCTV) is a widespread tool used for this purpose. These CCTV systems compromise a set of cameras that transmit information to monitors. These monitors are usually under restricted access, and security personnel monitors them. CCTV systems are relatively simple to implement, but they are essential in covering large areas while reducing workforce needs.
Lights complement existing security systems by making it easier to detect intrusions. Lights are essential for CCTV systems to work. If light pollution is a concern, corporations can opt to use infrared systems which are invisible but deliver the same results.
Meanwhile, tags aid in identification. Security personnel and other employees are sometimes given tags so that they can easily differentiate them from intruders. This procedure makes threat detection easier, ultimately leading to a better crisis response.
For these reasons, lights and tags are necessary.
Security personnel and other people of interest should have a communication channel that cannot be easily accessed by outsiders. This system allows them to coordinate without giving out their plans to intruders. Such a communication system should also be robust, able to work even in less than ideal conditions.
At the same time, the entire organization should have a communication system that allows them to relay announcements to everyone. This communication system allows everyone to exactly know what incident happened as well as how they should act.
Companies place a lot of trust in their security personnel. They will gain greater access to the company’s spaces and resources than other employees. Security personnel that fails to protect the company, or worse, someone who launches an attack can spell doom for the company.
Companies should strive to make sure that their security personnel is trustworthy. They should adequately screen their staff, and this security personnel should be in subjection to background checks. These tests will establish whether they have the right aptitude for the job.
Aside from hiring security personnel, organizations should also do background checks when hiring people and vendors. Promoting existing employees to posts that give them significant power over the corporation also warrants a background check.
Background checks are one of the few reliable tools that people have for assessing character. If a person/company has a history of violence and criminal behavior, they might not be suitable for roles that place them in positions of power.
Employees hate drills because they are a hassle to conduct. Bosses hate exercises because they disrupt the workflow and reduce productivity. However, drills are helpful as they let people practice what to do in the case of emergencies.
During times of crisis, many people tend to become panicked and agitated. In this state of mind, it becomes harder to make decisions and to take action. However, hard-grained behaviors can be implemented even during times of peril. The goal of drills is to make emergency responses automatic so that employees can act them out even during crises.
Unannounced drills have the benefit of testing whether people genuinely prepare for emergencies. Employees are more likely to act when they do not know whether the exercise is an actual emergency or not. However, this can also cause significant levels of stress. On the other hand, announced drills allow people to prepare in advance and to practice what they've learned.
The appropriate type of drill will depend on the situation, but it is better to have both.
Outside of emergencies, it becomes easy to underestimate threats. People may start thinking that some of the security procedures are too restrictive. Overall security weakens as a result, which can be catastrophic when a disaster does occur.
Security audits help prevent this scenario by regularly nudging administrators to improve security protocols. These reviews also help pinpoint and patch security holes.
As established before, everyone is responsible for maintaining security. Hence, everyone should receive some form of security training. Most training should focus on the emergency response so that everyone can remain calm and act rationally during crises. At the very least, employees should know the security policies used by the company, as well as how they can comply with these rules.
Security is a serious matter. Treating the matter light-heartedly is a recipe for disaster. However, security measures that are too harsh can easily backfire. Rules that are enforced too strictly risk alienating employees away from the vision of maintaining order in the workplace. Extensive searches and full audits can also sap resources and decrease productivity.
Companies should decide on what an optimum level of security looks like for them. They should balance the need for protection with the need for convenience.
A security breach can sometimes still happen, even with the best security systems. Therefore, workplace security should include procedures on how to act during and after emergencies.
The most important thing for employees to remember is to stay calm. Stress only makes it harder to act appropriately. Only with a clear mind can people make decisions that can save their lives.
Proper preparation can help reduce panic during incidents. If people feel sufficiently prepared, they perceive themselves more capable of handling emergencies. This increased confidence leads to less anxiety and fear.
In particular, drills can be useful. By practicing in conditions similar to emergency states, people become more familiar with how incidents would feel. They develop expectations on how they should act during these scenarios. The increased familiarity reduces the fear they might feel during an actual emergency.
A chain of command ensures that companies can relay instructions in an orderly fashion across all portions of the workforce. A string of orders promoted clarity, as it prevents multiple conflicting directions from being given out. In turn, increased transparency helps people remain calm and makes them more efficient during crises.
Companies rarely act alone during emergencies. They usually have to coordinate with outside parties, including authorities and government agencies. Hence, it is essential to have clear lines of communication towards external stakeholders.
After a crisis, people will be in a stressful state of mind. Some might have had traumatic experiences. Debriefing mitigates the damage caused by the incident by allowing people to come to terms with what happened. Debriefing also enables the company to transition from crisis response to recover.
Companies should indeed learn from emergencies. Debriefing and post-event analyses are both crucial in understanding how exactly events transpired. This information could then be analyzed to identify any problems with current security systems. Once these companies recognize these issues, solutions can then be applied to prevent similar crises.
For any modern establishment, companies should give digital security should be given attention. As technologies develop, hackers find new ways to launch attacks. In response, companies should adopt new ways to defend themselves.
Hackers can gain access to data that doesn't belong to them, such as company payroll or sensitive trade secrets. They could then sell this data to other entities. Sometimes, they are used to target employees, or the company itself.
Other attackers attempt to overload the data servers of the company. Called a distributed denial-of-service (or DDoS) attack, this technique aims to prevent the server from functioning properly. This event can negatively impact the services provided by the company to its customers. Sometimes, this attack disables other security layers, allowing for other forms of attack.
If there is a connection of the data server to the Internet, attackers can send malicious code directly to the servers. Once they gain access, they can potentially download data from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
Other methods include connecting to the local corporate network and launching the attack there. Alternatively, attackers can target the devices used by employees. A computer virus can be used to compromise the device, allowing access to the rest of the corporate system.
Endpoint protection helps prevent the last type of digital attack described above by protecting the devices used by the employees themselves. Typically, endpoint protection includes an antimalware package that actively scans for viruses on the machine.
Endpoint protection also includes restricting access. Even if there is a virus that manages to survive on the device, there should be no way for it to spread beyond the device to infect the rest of the network.
Many standard digital security tips also help ensure corporate security. For instance, employees should be careful when visiting insecure websites or installing unknown software. They should not have administrative access to corporate devices unless their job requires it. Employees should use strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Finally, they should use up-to-date software.
While updates can be annoying, many software patches fix security vulnerabilities that could have otherwise been exploited by attackers. By using outdated software, companies risk exposing their systems to attack.
Network connections should be limited only to employees. Visitors should only be allowed to connect to a separate network that security rigorously monitor for any threats. Router firmware should be regularly updated. Network passwords should be strong, and all connections should be encrypted.
Encryption obfuscates information by making them incomprehensible to outsiders. Even if these attackers gain access to the network, they will be unable to understand any information. All network connections should be encrypted to preserve security.
Employees should avoid using dictionary words or common passwords such as “1234” or “password.” They should use include a mix of letters in different caps, numbers, and symbols. Finally, avoid short passwords.
Two-factor authentication requires the presence of a physical key, such as a smartphone or key card, in addition to a password. This technique makes it significantly harder for outsiders to gain access.
Of course, digital security measures are useless if hackers can gain physical access to the servers. Hence, physical and digital security go together.
There should be a way to mark devices as lost, allowing for possible retrieval. Missing devices should be monitored intensively, mainly since they can be used to gain access to the corporate network.
Companies should communicate what happened, as well as which people are affected, to all stakeholders involved. They should coordinate with external agencies to help mitigate the damage. Finally, they should analyze what happened to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Endpoint security requires the participation of anyone who uses corporate devices such as computers. Since this is a feasible attack route, employees should secure their own devices also.
To properly implement everything discussed so far about workplace security, establishments need to have a plan for achieving workplace security.
A safety and security plan should involve a means of detecting and reporting threats. It also includes training programs for employees, regular audits and inspections, as well as emergency preparedness. A final aspect of this plan involves a system to ensure continuous improvement.
This system allows any employee to report any hazards that he or she might have detected. A good reporting system should allow people to communicate dangers without fear of retribution. Hence, most reporting systems are anonymous. Also, reporting systems should also be resistant to pranksters who may merely abuse the system.
There are training programs that focus on disaster response, covering fire and earthquake emergencies. Other training programs concentrate on self-defense against attackers. Regardless, all programs teach the proper attitudes to adopt during emergencies.
Due to the ever-changing nature of threats, companies need to stay updated on new dangers that may lurk in the future. Regular inspections allow organizations to learn new techniques and to reinforce old ones. Consistent inspection schedules are a crucial part of workplace security.
Everyone should be familiar with the roles they need to take during emergencies. Companies could accomplish this goal through intensive employee training. As mentioned before, there should already be a chain of command in place. Proper communication channels should also be available at all times, just in case of emergencies.
Read OSW Related Article: Workplace Physical Security Controls
Action should not stop after an emergency. Administrators should collect as much information as they can to understand the factors that led to the incident. This procedure allows for proper situational analysis, which leads to solutions.
If everyone subscribes to a vision of a peaceful and orderly workplace, then it becomes more likely that everyone will participate in security practices. Hence, leaders should instill a work culture that puts great emphasis on security.
Leaders should first acknowledge that security is a necessity for everyone. They should emphasize this when communicating with employees. Ideally, they should be able to inspire their followers to act towards a safer and more secure workplace. Finally, intentions should be backed up with concrete action through policy and implementation.
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Where can administrators learn more about workplace security? This article seeks to be as comprehensive as possible when it comes to workplace security. However, there are also multitudes of articles online that delve into this topic. There are even online courses that teach about workplace security concepts, as well as implementation procedures. Also, leaders can learn about best practices done by other organizations by attending conferences on workplace security.
What is one thing that administrators can implement immediately to improve workplace security? Get a list of emergency hotlines, print them out, and have employees memorize the numbers. These hotlines should contain contacts from both within and outside the organization. A lot of employees do not know which numbers to contact during emergencies. Hence, having a list in easy reach can significantly improve disaster and crisis response.
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