Small Business Safety and Threat Reduction

A Basic Guide To Conducting a Threat Assessment For Your Small Business

How does the small business owner detect and prevent physical and cyber threats to the enterprise? Is it necessary, worthwhile or should anyone really care? With everything else for the shopkeeper to do, between ordering and inventorying merchandise, training employees and trying to increase sales, who has time? Won’t the police respond or protect the facility?

The bottom line is a business must be proactive and take definitive steps-tried and true measures-to reduce the likelihood of losses due to physical injury, theft, reputation damage and the insider threat. Your local police department is a great resource for handy and free publications on enhancing site safety and providing updated intelligence. However, the fact of the matter is an imminent threat to life and other violent or potentially violent crimes must take priority over hardening the security perimeter and environment of a private enterprise. You must take responsibility by identifying and mitigating-if not neutralizing-the most significant threats in your operating environment.

What does all this mean? Well, a comprehensive vulnerability study or analysis must address the elements of the micro threat environment primarily, while taking into consideration the larger, or macro issues, where possible. For example, your micro environment are those particular characteristics, conditions and hazards that are on your property, in your store or warehouse or that affect your employees as they travel from point A to B in furtherance of official business. Consider the physical condition of your structure, remembering to:

  • remove debris from interior hallways, storage facilities and keep passageways and emergency exits clear; exterior walkways and appurtenances are also your responsibility in many cases to maintain;
  • ensure that there are CCTV cameras-preferably digital and with a 90 day loop-to record events both within the structure and outside;
  • conduct a positive ID check on all persons seeking to make deliveries or to engage in a sales presentation. A common scam is for a potential thief to pose as a vendor in to gain entry to sensitive areas of your business. Once inside, the offender scopes out security measures only to subsequently return to defeat them and perpetrate a robbery. Ensure that vehicles entering driveways and garage space are photographed and that the license plate is readable. Commercial license plate readers are available through security equipment vendors.
  • keep as little cash as possible on premises. Make frequent, accompanied trips to the bank to make deposits and vary the timings of bank runs so as not to establish a detectable pattern;
  • spend the time and the money to conduct a background investigation on your new hires or potential employees. Most law enforcement agencies will provide you with public records if you can identify a report or incident number. Others may run a name check to locate a report if one exists (at times, the requestor must pay a fee for records reproduction and sensitive personal information may be redacted).
  • a great source of information that should not be overlooked is the employee’s social media profile. What info does he or she put out there for all to see? If the profile contains extreme writings on animal rights and the applicant is applying for a job at SeaWorld, you may be heading for trouble. Check Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Instagram, etc. The insider threat is a huge issue and refers to the threat to your enterprise that emanates from employees or contract employees. Although theft of merchandise or embezzlement of funds by employees without question hurts the bottom line, be mindful of the fact that if you make use of proprietary algorithms, formulas, designs or techniques, these items of intellectual property may also be at risk from disgruntled teammates and could end up in the hands of your competitors.

Don’t Forget The Big Picture:

Although the micro threats are those which require your immediate and continued, regular attention, the larger threat environment also can impact your operations, including employee safety. Engage with your local FBI office and police department. Time permitting, an agent or officer is happy to visit your establishment and brief your management and employees on major, macro issues affecting their area of responsibility, whether it be a city, county or state. These are big picture items and may touch on terrorism, intelligence trends, homeland security in general and city or state crime statistics. Check their websites as well for publicly available safety publications with valuable tips and attend a city counsel meeting when your local chief is scheduled to review the department’s performance and annual plan. It helps to educate yourself on these issues.

Although it may sound like a lot, you can take these measures in stages and delegate some of the responsibility to your trusted assistants or number two in charge. He or she can also offer you alternate points of view or draw on experience from previous jobs on what worked and what didn’t. There does not have to be a huge expenditure of funds, either.

Finally, Security Strategies Today offers a comprehensive threat and vulnerability assessment for the small business. We visit your premises, interview management, talk to employees, engage with the local police and assess your practices. Thereafter, we present you with our findings and offer a mitigation strategy, all for one low cost. Give us a call to find out more or to schedule an appointment.

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The author is a former Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and currently is employed as a security consultant.

Originally published on Sunday, July 5, 2015
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