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Commercial Property Security Guide

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Guide to commercial property security

 Introduction

Commercial property insurance provides cover against theft and attempted theft for very good reason. Considerable damage is likely to be done whilst the burglars are gaining entry, valuables are likely to be stolen, customers’ records compromised, and untold vandalism caused.

Insurance for commercial properties, of course, covers other hazards such as loss and damage caused by storm etc.

As the owner of the commercial property, you have a responsibility for mitigating those risks of loss or damage – just as you do if you are the owner of residential property.

This guide focuses on some of the security issues faced by owners of commercial property - you can read our guide to residential property security tips here.

It is worth drawing the distinction between commercial and residential property security for very good reasons, not least the considerable changes which technology has brought to commercial property security. Many of the implications of the widespread use of technology and the interconnectivity of the internet of things are considered in a selection of articles published this autumn by the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) under the title Security Measures in Today’s World.

Are you leaving the keys under the front door mat?

You might have spent a small fortune in installing a state of the art security system and linking it to an alarm receiving centre (ARC) or your security guard’s onsite post. Fire alarms may be set up so that the local fire services are notified immediately your fire control systems come into play.

Such developments are a boon, of course, to the security of your commercial property, but it is essential to keep in mind the new vulnerabilities which you might be introducing.

Your state of the art security systems, for example, are likely to be connected one to another through a wireless network. The modern thief is also an expert in hacking into those networks – heightening your silent cyber risks.

Failing to secure the WiFi on which your security systems are likely to be based may amount to the modern-day equivalent of leaving the door keys under your front door mat, suggests a contributor to BIBA’s collection of articles.

Whilst focusing your energies on the possible vulnerabilities introduced by new technologies, however, do not lose sight of the “old fashioned” physical threats from theft and attempted theft, warns another article.

Entry codes

The chances are that it has been some time since you last saw entry to a commercial building by way of the humble door key.

Instead, you are just as likely to come across swipe cards, number pads or even biometric readers. These offer generally more secure means of access to the building by the user having to memorise a password or code – and some entry systems even give individual users their own unique code, so that the system records who is coming in and out of a building or room.

Once again, it is the human element that may undermine even the strongest of these security measures. Many of your staff are likely to scribble down the “secret” code you have just given them on a scrap of paper kept in their purse or wallet.

The problem with swipe cards is that they may be cloned – so allowing any criminal to override the entire system.

Even seemingly “advanced” technology which relies on biometric data or voice recognition may be subject to ultimately critical flaws.

As the owner of commercial property, therefore, the questions to ask yourself are not whether any intended new security measures are “advanced” or “smart”, but whether they are actually better.

The answer might lie in a layered approach, which sees you using a combination of measures. One such example might be the use of voice-recognition entry systems, which then also ask the caller to answer a coded question for further verification.

Once again, though, don’t get too caught up in all the marvels of technology. Access codes, voice recognition and swipe cards might all make it more difficult for intruders to get through your doors, but it is still necessary to keep valuable items under lock and key and computers locked when they are not in use.

Security marking and tracking

For all the security measure you have put in place, some assets might still be stolen – indeed some highly portable assets such as smartphones and laptops are likely to be especially vulnerable.

As a further layer of security for many of your company’s assets, therefore, you might want to consider forensic marking – not only is it likely to deter thieves, but a forensically marked item is going to be considerable easier to trace and recover if it is stolen. The mark might be something as simple as a self-adhesive label or involve UV etching and the use of transponders no bigger than a grain of rice.

One of the most common forms of tracking and tracing is the “find my phone” app you probably have on your own smartphone. Not only do you know where it’s gone if someone steals it, you can also lock it remotely so that it is useless to the person who took it.

The same principle may be applied to your company laptops, so that if an employee misplaces or leaves it behind somewhere, it can be thoroughly wiped remotely and so made useless. This trick is known as “bricking” since it renders the laptop as useful as a brick!

Layered security

Perhaps the major lesson to be learned from BIBA’s series of articles is the value of a layered approach to commercial property security.

It is likely to be in the combination of measures, rather than any single security system on its own, that delivers the protection of property and assets that you need.

The combination of traditional security measures and a considered approach to the introduction of innovative technological advancements may secure the protection you are seeking. All of this builds upon the bedrock, 4 “Ds” of security, namely deterrence – preventing an intruder’s access in the first place; detection – if the intruder manages to gain access; delaying – obstacles you put in the way of the intruder reaching his goals; and denial – denying access to the space where the intruder expected to find the items.