Mirko Filipovic founded Themis Security in 2010. As a cop for 15 years, and now a security expert, he has seen it all. He evaluates each business, each building, by its “threat level,” that is, its location, type of business, and what kind of incidents have taken place in the neighbourhood.
The first level of security is what Filipovic calls “hardening” the building. This involves stout door locks, window bars and cameras. He works with Bullet Security to make this happen. This first step helps deter “door rattlers” — would-be intruders looking for an easy way into a building.
Then there are cameras and alarms. Security cameras have gotten more sophisticated, no longer producing fuzzy black-and-white images, but high-res and in colour. The problem, Filipovic says, is that cameras are more of an after-the-fact record of an incident, not necessarily a preventive measure. Alarms, too, may curtail a break-in, but not necessarily prevent it. Most smash-and-grab criminals know they have about 45 seconds before the alarm trips. That’s enough time to grab a till or a computer or an armful of cigarettes. And how many of us ignore alarms?
At our request Filipovic looked at activity reports from the last 30 days in downtown Victoria and this is what he determined were the top three security threats:
- Loitering / trespassing on private property.
2. Individuals who are intoxicated, under the influence of drugs or suffering from mental health issues.
3. The threat of violence or use of weapons came in third.
“However in terms of risk and threat categorization, that list would be flipped,” says Filipovic.
Here’s a checklist of basic security features that every building should have:
Most business entrances have proper alarms. However, emergency exits are often neglected. Every entry, including windows, should have locks and sensors that trigger alarms that are in turn supervised, controlled and inspected.
Modern video systems provide high-quality footage that can be remotely monitored and managed. Cameras can record continuously, or begin recording and storing data when an alarm goes off. Experts recommend leaving them visible.
Dim lighting makes life easier for criminals and more difficult for law enforcement. Lighting should overlap in case bulbs go out, and the power supply should be protected to prevent tampering.
As part of your security strategy, ask the following questions: What happens when an alarm goes off? Who is notified, and how? Are redundant communications systems available?
Many businesses keep all files and devices forever instead of disposing of them once they’ve reached the end of their useful life. A closet filled with these assets is a gold mine for criminals. Outdated documents need to be shredded and old technology recycled.
During business hours, receptionists are often the first line of defence for businesses open to the public. Employee training should explain how to respond to situations.
The very presence of uniformed security guards is a deterrent in places like a busy shopping mall. For smaller businesses, they can be called upon to respond to everything from shoplifters to abusive customers in far less time than police.
Most telecom companies and internet service providers offer security programs at various levels of scrutiny and price. This includes increased monitoring of network logs, reminding employees to recognize phishing attempts and ensuring that servers are patched and updated for all known security vulnerabilities. Portable media (hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, etc.) are particularly vulnerable.
Forces of nature like tsunamis, earthquakes, extreme weather and pandemics can have a deadly impact on a small company. If disaster struck, what would happen? Who would be in charge? How would management and employees communicate? Do your employees know how to evacuate the building, or where to find is an emergency kit? How would you contact clients and customers?
The solution is an emergency operations plan that anticipates every contingency. Each employee, however small the business, should review and understand the procedures to follow in the event of an emergency. Find VictoriaReady emergency preparedness information and resources at victoria.ca.
The key to all security concerns, large and small, is this: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.