Physical Security: Prevent or Limit Disasters’ Impact
The devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina on businesses’ ability to function serves as a frightening reminder that the best disaster recovery plan may fail if organizations don’t take steps to prevent or limit the impact of disasters.
Disaster recovery plans are more likely to succeed if businesses implement predisaster physical security programs before hurricanes, earthquakes, and other potentially life- and business-threatening events take place.
But with the concern over securing essential computer system infrastructure and mission-critical data, many organizations have shortchanged measures to guard against adverse environmental impacts such as flooding and windblown debris. According to Japan Inc. magazine, "businesses have gotten so caught up in technological security that they have forgotten the more basic, yet salient, notion of physical security.”
In many cases, funds once spent on physical security have been shifted to information technology (IT) security, causing many organizations to be vulnerable to both natural disasters and physical security breaches. A Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations survey found that only 2% of U.S. corporations grouped IT and building security in the same department, and only 36% supported formal communications between those responsible for building and IT security. Different departments may have their own security budget, priorities, and methods, and communication between each area may not take place, even among those responsible for security.
This isn’t the best way to prevent or mitigate a disruptive event or, following an event, improve even the best-planned disaster recovery program.
Organizations must establish a balance between post- and predisaster planning. No matter how extensive the disaster recovery plan, those responsible for physical security must develop a comprehensive disaster prevention/mitigation plan to protect people and property, and to reduce company liability from business-threatening events. A comprehensive disaster prevention/mitigation plan addresses threats from both intentional and natural disasters.
In either case, disaster prevention and recovery plans must be mutually supportive and not establish conflicting policies and procedures. The end result must be an integrated security program that sets up a course of action to prevent and mitigate disruptive events, and outlines steps to take in case a disaster occurs.
Physical security plan components
Those responsible for security must address such issues as computer security, perimeter control, asset protection, business continuity, and risk management. Consider these suggestions when determining your credit union’s physical security plan:
Built-in Safety and Security
There are many examples of how safety and security can be seamlessly built into an organization’s physical environment, resulting in significantly better protection for building occupants and the ability to recover from disruptive events. Consider the following:
For effective and aesthetically pleasing results, engage a security firm that employs experts in both security and building/landscape design.
A disaster prevention/mitigation plan should identify and prioritize which renovations and redesigns need to be made to the facility, and what equipment and supplies needs to be purchased. Most importantly, the disaster prevention/mitigation plan should assign implementation responsibility to specific individuals and departments.
Needless to say, it’s essential to have full coordination and ongoing communication between those responsible for disaster prevention/mitigation and disaster recovery planning. Plus, endorsement and support by top management of such organization-wide efforts are necessary to overcome turf battles among departments responsible for carrying out security initiatives. Anything less than the leadership’s enthusiastic commitment will increase the likelihood of failure.
Marty Watts is president/CEO of V-Kool Inc., a Houston-based North American distributor of security and energy efficient applied window film. Contact him at 800-217-7046. This article was first published in Credit Union Magazine and can be found at www.creditunionmagazine.com. Reprinted with permission.
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