Frustrate the Intruder – The Need for a Physical Security Risk Assessment


The original article can be found HERE)

By Marela Bush – January 5, 2022

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The exterior entrance door was modern in appearance to a building in a professional office park. Due to the sensitivity of the office work, the windows had heavy tinting.  An access control device was mounted on the entrance and all the employees had been vetted. The employees you see, had access to information an identity thief would salivate over. Inside was a well-known government operation and its name instilled an emotion of ruggedness. Internal “professionals” had recommended the security features.

Only a fool would dare try and enter this fortress. There would be easier targets for criminals to pursue. The problem with the office is that despite the access control device and other unmentioned security layers, a common credit card, or hotel room swipe card could breach the exterior door in less than five seconds. In less than five seconds an unsophisticated intruder with a four-inch piece of plastic, could enter. No, the year was not 1950 but in the present day. Certainly, the intruder would be detected you tell yourself. Hopefully, I mean probably, but only if everything else was working, but not before damage would occur.

So, if a government office with a substantial security budget is that vulnerable, then how much more is your operation? Do you consider the world safer or less safe? Do you write off incidents as the cost of doing business? Do you rely solely on an alarm siren or the hope that since nothing has ever happened, nothing ever will? Are you stubborn and refuse to address potential risks because you don’t wish to be “scared” into buying products or services? Is security an afterthought or part of a strategic mindset?

Another well-recited claim; “If someone wants in bad enough, they’ll get in,” has turned into a care-free catch all phrase, for those who don’t or won’t, pursue solid solutions. Allow us to entertain this concept and actually concur – to a degree. Imagine a doorway with no door, a doorway with a closed but unlocked door or one with a bolted door, etc. Which is easier to enter? Sounds elementary for certain; but ask, what’s the best application for our doorway? How thoroughly can we consider options to protect and frustrate the intruder? Frustrate them, detect them and delay them.

Does your organization have the in-house expertise to address today’s concerns? Recently an online job posting displayed a position at a mid-sized company. The position was to oversee a fleet of vehicles owned by the company. Oh, and security of the company was also part of the duties. Looking down in the details, the job actually involved investigative functions. However, no serious professional qualifications or any certifications were listed for the security or investigative responsibilities.

It’s 2022 and employers apparently are still throwing in security functions with maintenance, real-estate, building operations and vehicle fleets. Sorry, it’s more than locks and keys today people. Now, add in the bonus that our mid-size employer included investigatory duties and you have a recipe for disaster. Imagine that a candidate who oversaw insurance and preventative maintenance for delivery trucks is now in consideration to conduct investigations and provide recommendations for physical security improvements. Let it sink in. The Fleet Manager will now investigate thefts, breach of proprietary data, etc. What could possibly go wrong? Asset protection is in part, a science.

It’s certainly preferable to spend our dollars on benefits and strategies that historically provide a notable return on investment. Adding overhead, especially overhead that doesn’t necessarily show a tangible profit, is not desired. Yes, let’s combine duties – IT will now handle advertising – what? Yes, the purple squirrel concept can and did apply for some organizations. We highly recommend against it for the current environment. You need an advanced professional who understands how to address risks, threats and vulnerabilities.

History has changed and it continues to do so. In the present, capital must be diverted to increase protection. New tactics must be considered. I wish this weren’t the case. I hope that crime, violent crime will not enter your business. Wishing and hoping unfortunately aren’t effective plans.

A physical security risk assessment (PSRA) – the professional kind, has opened the eyes of the brightest executives. In a confidential briefing as the security professional presented the findings, an embarrassed manager bristled, another dropped their jaw, and yet another was in disbelief. Think about the government facility mentioned earlier. Some of the findings were simple and required no cost at all. Other findings ranged from low cost, all the way to implementing a new technology. It was the surprise about the current behaviors among employees that provided a lightning jolt.

Taking a step back, the organization experienced a loss that prompted bringing in an outside party. It was decided that a set of fresh eyes, a new perspective to what threats may be about, should be examined. Thus, the unbiased professional conducts a PSRA. The executive who was in disbelief at the vulnerability of the company begins to ask pertinent questions. “What is or has our Security Manager been doing to address the problems?” The opportunities have existed for years and were never adequately addressed. The security manager? Well, he was never hired off of a professional security team. He mostly handles the company vehicle fleet. Insurance premiums are in check though.

Consider the story of two burglars who attempted to break into a warehouse. They did so at night, directly in front of a surveillance camera. It’s a camera the real estate guy recommended, so that part is good.  Anyway, the warehouse had an outside company perform a PSRA. As a result, they spent about $900. on a particular recommended device, which offered enhanced protection. After the would-be felons fought, huffed and puffed they realized their burglary tools were inferior. It was quite entertaining to watch. Exhausted, they gave up. As they departed, they looked up at the real estate guy’s camera and gave it a middle finger. Now that is frustrating an intruder. 

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