Procurement · 5 March 2020

Security tips for your small business

AI

Small businesses with a limited security budget will always suffer more than their larger competitors when it comes to security. It’s not just physical security either, with companies trusting the latest technology to protect their finances, private files and company data against a growing cyber threat.

With UK businesses losing over £20 billion a year as a result of fraud, robbery and cybercrime, here’s some key advice on keeping your business secure.

1. Employees are the first line of defence

Small businesses rely more heavily on individuals to play their part in keeping the company secure than their larger competitors, who can set aside a substantial security budget. So, employees need to be aware of the threats facing the business.

According to a report by Business in the Community (BITC), 30% of small businesses don’t have any cybersecurity strategies in place and only 23% have a policy for controlling access to systems that are limited to certain employees.

UK businesses are attacked every 2.5 minutes and if insufficient cybersecurity measures are in place, malware can get into both individual computers and even move horizontally across a local network to steal data.

Employers should provide regular training for staff on the latest online threats and how to spot them, plus best practice for staying safe online.

This may include spotting email phishing scams, choosing and storing strong passwords and protecting individual devices. However, it’s not just online where small businesses are at risk.

Internal training should also be provided for general security best practice like locking up and setting alarms and a physical copy of internal security protocol should be available as a reference.

Consider bringing in an external security expert to talk to employees about some of the most common security mistakes and provide actionable advice on being safer day-to-day.

2. Start a business watch scheme

Just like with neighbourhood watch schemes, a business watch is where a collection of local businesses come together to look out for each other and share advice on threats in the area and how to keep their offices protected.

A notable example of a successful scheme is on the Slough trading estate, where offices are monitored 24 hours a day by a dedicated security team.

Signing up for these schemes can give businesses access to ‘out-of-hours premises’ checks, monitoring systems and a mobile patrol. Look online to see if there’s already a scheme running near your office and if not, consider starting your own.

This can be as simple as popping into neighbouring offices for an informal chat to ask business owners if they’re interested in sharing the cost of security and hosting monthly catch-ups to discuss any local problems.

3. Visitors, ID’s and swipe cards

With many small businesses leasing office space in shared buildings, security and identification are key. Shared offices spaces see up to thousands of employees and vendors through the doors each day, so small businesses are recommended to take control of their own security, in addition to that provided by the building managers.

Use an identification system

ID cards and access control systems are examples of non-disruptive solutions to keeping your business secure from unwanted visitors without taking employees much time or causing hassle.

Visitor logs and ID cards are useful for keeping track of who is currently in the building, who has been in and the duration of their visit.

If you happen to suspect a company breach, you can use the log as a reference point to rule out threats. Security of information should always be front-of-thought for businesses.

This means any potential clients or visitors should be vetted with a thorough online background check and even an introductory phonecall before being invited into the office.

Visitor management systems also let temporary guests sign in and out, to help you keep track of who’s had access to the office and providing you with contact details.

Back to basics

It’s often best to go back to basics with office security. Safe best practice like keeping valuable items and physical files locked away, making sure employee know exactly how to lock all doors and windows properly and keeping a record of who’s keyed access to rooms helps prevent unauthorised access.

Investing in CCTV and alarms as a deterrent to potential intruders is also recommended.

Find an alarm system that works on a fob token basis to make it easier for employees to buy-in to office security without adding time-consuming admin tasks to their busy schedules.

For those leasing independent buildings which aren’t managed by an external company, modifications can be made to the premises to make them more secure.

This may include motion-sensor lights around the office which illuminate when triggered by trespassers. Also, make sure to have at least two locked and alarmed doors before anyone can gain entry to the office. For example, using a keypad alarm system on an exterior door and a fob alarm system on an interior door will make it difficult to break in.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Izzy Schulman is the director of locksmith company, Keys 4u.

High Streets Initiative