Workplace Physical Security Is an Essential Component of Cybersecurity: 11 Ways to Better Protect People, Devices, and Data

Theft that takes place inside the workplace is more common than many people think. From within your own building, opportunistic thieves could steal computers, valuables, and even employees’ identities. That’s why experts recommend that companies strengthen their physical security practices—such as monitoring entry points and locking up hard copy files—to better protect data and equipment. Learn these 11 ways employees can help boost workplace security, plus 5 considerations for HR and facilities teams.

Better Physical Security Can Lead to Better Cybersecurity

When considering how to bolster your organization’s cybersecurity, the first thing that comes to mind may be technical solutions like firewalls and encryption. But experts say, in reality, most data thefts are more mundane, and a thief is just as likely to steal a device from inside your building as they are to hack into your network from another continent.

The profile of an office thief can vary widely —from a desperate employee to a seemingly innocent visitor to a member of the cleaning staff. Savvy criminals may even pose as legitimate service people, such as a utility company representative, in a type of social engineering in which a criminal attempts to steal as soon as an employee is distracted.

Common things stolen from the workplace are items of value (mobile phones and laptops), items of convenience (pens and office supplies) and, perhaps most frightening, company and employee data. Thieves may access data by stealing an entire computer, by moving the information onto a more portable drive, or even by infecting a device with malware so that it can be accessed at a later date.

Your employees’ identities could also be at risk in the workplace through the theft of a wallet or bag, or even confidential documents on the printer.

11 Employee Practices to Better Physically Protect People, Devices, and Data

It’s not all bad news. Employees can help organizations maintain and even improve both physical security and cybersecurity. Here are 10 best practices to consider for your employees.

5 Additional Considerations for HR and Facilities Teams

Experts say one of the best ways to prevent office theft may be to hire the right people. Assuming that is always the goal, below are additional considerations to help create better physical security in your workplace. You may want to consult with your insurance company or local crime prevention officer for additional physical security recommendations for your organization.

  • Strengthen access controls - Depending on the size of your office, more secure access control could be as simple as a strong lock for your single-point entry or as high-tech as a PIN-entry system or facial recognition.
  • Issue ID cards - ID cards provide an easy way for reception or security personnel to more quickly monitor everyone entering the building, and it also makes anyone without an ID card more noticeable as they move around the office.
  • Consider surveillance - Video surveillance can certainly help record a security incident if one occurs, but experts say it also has a psychological impact. Visible cameras and signage can often help deter office crimes.
  • Create a security culture - Experts say that one of the most important things HR teams can do for an organization’s physical security is to ensure that employees take security seriously. Regular training sessions can help emphasize the importance of good security practices and remind employees how they can contribute to a safer work atmosphere.
  • Conduct an annual physical security assessment - Experts recommend conducting a physical security assessment on a yearly basis to identify changes in the environment and update technology and practices accordingly.

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