Annual security audits make good business sense

March 2009 News

Finding time to periodically audit security programs, plans and protocols can be a challenge for most businesses. Some only perform audits before the installation of a security system or if a breach has occurred. But annual security audits can be worthwhile. They can help identify business areas that could benefit from increased security and may even help decrease risk exposure.

These are reasons why companies should perform a comprehensive review of their security programs at least once a year. Five factors can affect the overall effectiveness of a security solution over time. They are:

1. Evolving business environments: As companies develop, property, assets and personnel can change. Such changes can vary the level of security needed to help protect their assets as well as the traffic of employees, visitors and customers. An annual security audit can help ensure that a company’s security environment aligns with its risk exposure.

2. Updated recommendations for emergency planning: To help protect lives, assets and business continuity, proactive planning of emergency procedures is of the highest importance. Determining company readiness and establishing the important components of a recovery plan should be an integral part of a security assessment. Then, each year, the emergency plan should be reviewed to ensure its applicability.

3. Trends in workplace violence: Despite efforts to reduce workplace violence, it is a growing threat and an important security risk for businesses to consider. Experts say productivity losses of up to 80% can occur for as long as two weeks after a workplace violence incident. That is not to mention the ongoing fear that employees can have about violence recurring.

4. New governmental codes and regulations: Keeping up with changes in business trends as well as governmental regulatory compliance thresholds can overwhelm many business owners. An annual security audit should include a review of all known regulations as well as all new ones to ensure security compliance.

5. Improvements in security technologies: The convergence of IT and physical security solutions has fuelled development of smart Web-based applications and tools to help businesses better manage their security programs. These smarter systems can help provide better, more comprehensive security solutions while giving more freedom and flexibility to the users. An annual security audit should evaluate existing systems against the potential cost-benefits of newer, more effective systems. If this analysis suggests upgrades or new systems are needed, then plans can be developed for implementation.

By evaluating business risk, compliance levels and overall security each year, businesses may benefit in many ways. They can identify new risks, vulnerabilities and gaps in their current emergency plan and procedures. They can limit their potential exposure to civil and criminal liability. They can reduce insurance premiums by demonstrating their emergency and disaster readiness and recovery capabilities. Last but not least, they can improve the company’s image and credibility with employees, customers, suppliers and the community at large.

14-nation European crime update

1. Cost of crimes against businesses, most commonly forcible theft, rose 20% in the first half of 2008 – thought to reflect the economic downturn. Also, arson claims rose by almost 19% in the first half of 2008, again thought to reflect the economic downturn. 80% of businesses with 50+ employees have experienced a crime in the past year. Also, crime is shifting from physical to electronic, with electronic skimming theft in the UK alone a $140 million yearly problem.

2. Violent crime – violence against a person, robbery and sexual offenses – increase across the EU by 4% from 1995-2005, with the most increases in France (7%), the Netherlands (6%) and Portugal (5%).

3. Annual homicide rates – considered most comparable across the EU because of greater reporting consistencies – were about 1,8% per 100 000 population. Austria, Germany and Sweden all reported less than one homicide per 100 000 population.

4. Crime rate per 100 000 people is highest in England and Wales with about 10% followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, the lowest at 2,5%. (Note, however, that not all countries record crime in the same way, some include attempted crime, some record all incidents, while others only record convictions.)

5. 1995-2005 crime growth was highest in Slovenia (10%), Poland (5%) and Greece (3%), while crime declined most in Hungary, Denmark and the Czech Republic (all -2%).

For more information contact ADT Security, www.adt.co.za





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