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How to protect your business on the cheap

-- 2012-08-24 4:00 am --

Protecting an office requires unique considerations that are not needed when protecting a home. Sensitive customer data, employee turnover, trade secrets and expensive electronics are all things a small business owner must take into account when designing a security plan. Another challenge when securing an office is that the threat of theft can come from the inside as much as the outside. It would be nice if we could all trust our employees like family but the reality is that an employer must always err on the side of caution. Fortunately, there are many easy and affordable things that can be done to add various levels of safety and protection to your office.

Top Ten Ways to Secure an Office

1. Outside Lighting
If your office has access to the outside you must ensure that all exits are adequately lit at nighttime. Nothing is more appealing to an intruder than an entry point that is dark and hidden from view. You can get inexpensive motion activated lights that will turn on every time something or someone moves near them or you can setup time activated flood lights to illuminate all your entrances. If your business has a parking lot, you should also ensure the entire parking lot is well lit to protect your employees that work late and have to walk to their car in the dark.

2. Computer and Laptop Locks
Computers are expensive enough by themselves. When you consider the cost of replacing the data on the computer, they are priceless. Even if you back up your company’s data onto a server, many important documents may only live on the physical hard drive of the computer. While laptops are especially easy targets due to their small size and portability, a simple laptop lock is all you need to secure the physical device and at the same time protect the stored data.

3. Surge Protectors
Not only do you need to protect your computers and other electronics from theft, but you also need to protect them from the elements. A lightning strike can be a disaster for an unprotected office. Insurance may replace the device itself but it can not replace the data on the computer or the time it takes to reconfigure the device. However, a few surge protectors can easily prevent this situation from ever happening.

4. Lockable File Cabinets
Even though we store most information electronically these days, most companies will never truly be paperless. It is important to keep all sensitive documents and files stored under lock and key to ensure unauthorized individuals do not have access. There are many kinds of file cabinets with locks and you should choose the cabinet that suits your office’s needs. Basic file cabinets with a lock may be enough to keep nosey employees out of important documents, while a Sentry file safe will protect your documents from burglary and fire damage.

5. Key Management
As you add various levels of security around your office, you will inevitably end up with a wide variety of keys. Simply keeping things locked will not provide protection if you do not also protect the keys to those locks. It is always best to minimize the number of available keys floating around your office so they do not end up in the wrong hands, but you should also ensure that you keep all keys locked up. A locked drawer may be enough, but for the bigger offices with numerous keys you can also look at adding a commercial key cabinet. Key cabinets let you store your keys in an organized and secure way. As the business owner, you should maintain control over the key for the key cabinet for maximum security.

6. Data Security
Securing your office’s electronic information is more important than ever but you do not need to invest in an expensive IT security division. Encouraging your employees to use strong passwords for their computers is a good measure that doesn’t cost anything. There are also numerous low cost options for virus protection to maintain network security. It is equally important to protect the data that is no longer needed. A paper shredder that turns your documents into little pieces instead of strips will ensure that no one is able to piece together your old documents. Also, destroying old hard drives before you throw them out is a security measure many employers forget.

7. Access Control
Whether it is high quality deadbolts on your exit doors or an advanced electronic access control system, it is crucial to restrict access to your building so that only authorized employees can get in and out. If you can’t afford a full on access control system with proximity cards and access management software, you can add more advanced door hardware that uses access codes or biometric fingerprint readers. Make sure that you change access codes whenever an employee leaves the company.

8. Video Surveillance
Cameras can be the biggest deterrent to theft or vandalism. When someone thinks they are being recorded, they almost always behave. You can use this to your advantage by installing dummy cameras which don’t actually record but still provide protection. If you want to take it to the next level, a quality DVR camera system will keep recorded footage of all installed cameras on an electronic device that can be reviewed after a situation has occurred. Network DVRs are even more secure as the data is stored off-site and therefore can not be tampered with during a burglary.

9. Alarm System
Alarm systems today are much more advanced than in the past. Wireless alarm systems do not even require wires run throughout your property which can be a huge hassle and expenditure for a small business. Alarm systems can simply sound a loud siren when an intruder is detected or you can opt for a monitored alarm system that is backed by a central station that can deploy emergency response after an alarm is received. Luckily, for those frugal home or business owners, security companies have begun to really cater to those who like to do things on the cheap. DIY home security wasn't possible 15 years ago. But now with the internet, much of what used to require specialized knowledge is able to be replicated by individuals who simply want to save money by doing things on their own. If you want a recommendation on a good looking control panel that will get the job done, we recommend the Honeywell L5100. This unit is the plain Jane version. For those who want a wireless setup, you can extend it to make the Honeywell L5100 wifi enabled.

10. Insurance
All of these steps are important and should be utilized in whichever capacity works for your office. However, even if you chose the most advanced expensive options for each step, things can and will happen. Therefore, it is vital that you have adequate insurance to cover any damag e, theft or false claim against your business.

Follow all of these steps and you can then spend your time developing your business instead of worrying about potential disasters.