Online vs. IRL: Are Your Digital Security Efforts Cannibalizing Physical Measures?

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Physical security is no less important today than it was 15 or 20 years ago, but if you take a look around, this appears to be the case.

Physical security is no less important today than it was 15 or 20 years ago, but if you take a look around, this might seem to be the case.

So much of the business media focus is on cybersecurity and digital protection that it’s too easy for business owners to neglect the issue of protecting physical or tangible assets.

If you want to keep your firm safe and profitable, this wouldn’t be a bad time to give it some thought.

Crimes Against Small Businesses

There’s no question that cybercrime is on the rise, but don’t let that distract you from other potential threats. Employee theft, burglaries and vandalism are also all on the rise—and small businesses are often the preferred target.

The reason is that small businesses are largely viewed as comparatively unprotected and more vulnerable than larger corporations. Sadly, that belief is almost always justified.

Related Article: Smart Security: Wireless Security Systems for SMB Owners

According to a recent University of Cincinnati survey, 64 percent of small businesses have reported experiencing some level of employee theft at least once in the past. Cash is the most common stolen item (40 percent of all internal thefts) with amounts that range from $5 to $2 million.

Another 18 percent of these thefts involve physical products, 12 percent focus on raw materials, and 6 percent consist of equipment. The remaining percentage includes office supplies, time-card manipulation, fuel and other minor items.

In addition to employee theft, burglaries instigated by people outside the company also pose a major threat to small businesses. According to results of the survey, 65 percent of robberies are successful—a clear indication that security measures aren’t quite up to par. In instances where a burglar broke into a business after hours, 36 percent gained access to the building through a wooden or glass door, and another 17 percent broke in through a metal or roller door.

As far as vandalism goes, the same UK study found that 15 percent of respondents in one of the four major sectors (manufacturing, wholesale and retail, transportation and storage and accommodation and food) had experienced some form of vandalism in the past year. The most common form of vandalism was damage to a portion of the physical building. Around 83 percent of the incidents occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Related Article: Is Your Small Business Vulnerable to Security Threats?

Six Tips for Improving Physical Security

As the data indicate, many small businesses could use better physical, on-site security. However, if you’re like most owners, you don’t have a clear idea where to start. Here are a few suggestions to get you started in the right direction:

  • Consider location. The obvious place to start is with location. You can offset many of the challenges relating to physical security by situating your office or store in a safer area that has a record of low criminal activity. This won’t eliminate all of the risk, but it’s a big step.
  • Invest in tracking technology. Companies that depend heavily on a particular piece of equipment or similar asset would do well to increase the visibility of that asset. A Spot Trace GPS Tracking Device from The GPS Store can help you keep track of the real-time location from almost anywhere in the world. The benefit of these devices is that even if a burglary takes place, you have a video record and a much higher chance of locating your stolen property.
  • Use alarms and closed-circuit cameras. Two of the most practical and long-standing security measures are alarm systems and closed-circuit cameras. The benefit is twofold. First, the mere presence of an alarm system or camera can deter criminals from entering. Second, they can help law enforcement identify, track and locate invaders.
  • Hire part-time security. As mentioned, a large percentage of vandalism and burglaries occurs after hours. One way to eliminate most of the risk is to hire a part-time security staff to monitor your building when you’re not there. This is the most costly alternative, but also the most effective crime deterrent.
  • Invest in an office safe. A highly practical investment is an office safe. This is especially true if you have to store a lot of cash in your building. In addition to protecting cash and assets from theft, a safe also protects you against damage from fire or natural disasters.
  • Purchase adequate insurance coverage. While it may not deter crime, an insurance policy can protect you financially in case your business is victimized. For just a few dollars per month, you can rest easy and know that you’re covered.

Invest in Security Today

Security isn’t something you want to take a chance on. All it takes is one accident, crime, or error and your entire business may suffer. Given that the incidence of employee thefts, burglaries and vandalism is on the rise, it’s important to take action soon. Using the above tips, you can protect your business effectively right away.

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