In 2018 corporate security incidents came for everyone. Unfortunately, 2019 proved no better. But despite the fact that corporate security incidents invite public scrutiny more swiftly than ever, the number of organizations with an appropriate (security) crisis management and communications plan remains stuck around the 50 percent mark worldwide.
More than anything, security teams need to be aware of the principal challenges confronting their organizations. So, what did Security Managers learn in 2019, and what best practices can they take into the new decade? Here are the top learnings:
- Extreme weather and natural disasters can cause damage to facilities. Businesses are buckling up for a turbulent new normal: data from the world’s largest insurance broker identify 2017 and 2018 as the costliest back-to-back years for weather disasters on record, with over USD 200 billion in economic loss directly attributed to damage caused by natural disasters and extreme weather events. Half of those losses were uninsured.
Catastrophes continued to break grim records in 2019,meaning that organizational resilience to worsening extreme weather events must continue to permeate business continuity and corporate security planning in the enterprise.
Business leaders must be clear-eyed with respect to the vulnerabilities specific to their geographies and prepare accordingly -from the basics of developing or updating extreme weather crisis plans, to routinely training staff on natural disaster and emergency evacuation procedures and rigorously enforcing hazard checks, to the less intuitive doubling down on the maintenance of heating and cooling systems.
- The largest share of active shooter incidents takes place in commercial environments. Active shooter incidents have become the number one physical security threat concerning corporate America in 2019, according to a biennial survey of directors and security managers from Fortune 1000 companies and organizations.
The response? A tightening in security coordination, signaled by an increase in the number of corporate security leaders reporting directly to the CEO or president. Such governance concerns are certainly appropriate given the holistic demands of security incident responsiveness.
But active shooters are far from the most common form of workplace violence. Every year, an estimated 2 million workers (in the U.S.alone)report as victims of workplace violence, defined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the workplace.”
And while a plethora of tools, technologies, and practices are available to re-haul or update corporate security standards, experts are clear that a vigilant, disciplined, responsive corporate culture of safety is the best safeguard against multi-faceted violent threats -both from within and without.
- Physical assets remain an attractive target for bad actors. Just like people, physical assets are particularly challenging to secure. Goods are often stored in sprawling warehouses and lots, often in older spaces that were not designed with modern threats in mind. These vulnerabilities represent an alluring target for property crime and burglaries.
For theft-prone industries, like retail and hospitality, investing in integrated security management systems is not only a must for the securing of business property, but is also critical to ensure the safety of employees. Research indicates that robberies are the root cause of some of the highest rates of occupational fatalities.
Further, there’s a growing over lap between corporate security and broader issues of supply chain integrity.As logistics networks more complex, it becomes harder to gain insight into the security processes at the higher rungs of a given supply chain. As such,the introduction of counterfeit or malicious hardware which compromises safety and operations can only become an increasingly present concern for corporate leadership.
- Organizations are under investing in security personnel. In Australia, the private security industry has an estimated annual turnover of more than AUD 8 billion, half of which is spent on electronics and the other half on manpower. Unfortunately, there are worrying signs that the latter half of the equation rarely gets as much attention as the former. The standard Certificate II training requirements for a security officer in Australia, for example, don’t specifically address the human skills required to identify and report on potential terrorist activity or on appropriate response measures.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., ‘Security Officer Turnover/Retention’ has become a top five issue for security leadership in 2019, up from 11th place in 2016.
These figures suggest that security leaders and service providers must increasingly cultivate deeper relationships with security personnel -primarily in the form of career opportunities and benefits. Given that security personnel and ‘regular’ workers very often function as first respondents in the event of a physical security incident, the risks of under investing in security personnel are clear.
Training, particularly in the appropriate use of user-friendly, security management technology, represents a particularly attractive win-win for employees and corporate security writ large. From the tighter integration of Security Operations Centers (into Physical Security operations) to the use of mobile apps in the field, technology can lead the way forward. And the deployment of flexible platforms that act as the glue between people and technology at the front lines of corporate security thus constitutes a dual investment in technology and personnel.
Finally, keeping up with the evolution of corporate security threats that have emerged in recent years is a full-time job, especially as the reputational damage from any kind of media scandal can take years to recover from. What’s more, the physical damage caused by corporate security threats can be irrevocable -in particular for the victims.
Luckily, with the knowledge and tools provided by next-gen security management software, Noggin Security, teams can effectively manage security incidents, threats, and operations, keeping their people and physical assets safe well into the next decade
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