Sunday, December 19, 2010

Karate Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas and all around town
People were bustling and shopping and scurrying around

On top of it all, over the noise of the traffic, all across the city
Carolers could be heard with a happy holiday ditty

Most of them had a heart full of cheer
But there were a few, a dark few, with a grinch-like leer

For their thoughts were on thievery and robbery
Car break-ins, burglary and other nefarious skullduggery

But don’t worry or let your holidays be ruined with fear
Simply follow a few of the security tips presented here

Remember if going out for the night
Set a timer to turn on a light

Christmas decorations hanging from the rooftop with care
When turned off, tell a burglary ‘no reason to beware’

If someone tries to take your wallet or purse
Trying to fight them may make it worse

But if your life is in danger, then fight tooth and nail
Yell, scream, kick and bite and don’t stop until you prevail

In a busy mall, tell your kids, if lost, find a store clerk
Teach them to seek help rather than some perverted jerk

Identity theft is always a popular scam
So be alert to fraudsters on the lam

Since I am running out of rhymes
And this may be a waste of your time

Read the additional tips lower down
And don’t let security worries make you frown

In any case, while you’re out and about at play
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday
             

            To help keep your holidays safe and happy, Business Karate offers the following tips:

If you’re traveling:

      Get an automatic timer for your lights, including outdoor Christmas lights.  A home decorated with lights left off in the evening is an open invitation to potential burglars, letting them know that no one is home.

      Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home, shovel snow and even park their car in your driveway.

      Be sure to have the mail and newspaper delivery stopped or picked up by a neighbor.



If you’re out for the evening:

      Turn on lights and a radio or TV to make it appear that someone is home.

      Don’t leave gifts where they can be seen from outside.

      Be careful about locking all doors and windows, even if leaving for a short time.  The majority of burglaries occur through unlocked or open doors and windows.

While shopping:

      Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.

      Park in well-lit areas and be sure to lock your car.  Keep shopping bags and gifts in the trunk, out-of-sight.

      Avoid carrying lots of cash; use a credit card or check whenever possible.

      Be alert to persons using cell phones with cameras behind you in checkout lines.  Identity thieves may try to obtain you credit card numbers and driver’s license information through cell phone photos and use the information later for Internet purchases.

      Don’t leave your wallet or purse unattended – it will make a great target for a crook looking to go on a shopping spree with your credit cards.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Security Awareness

Security awareness is the cornerstone of any business security program.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) describes security awareness as the focus of attention on security.  Without that focus or attention on security, no security program will be complete.  You could have the best alarm system in the world, coupled with the latest video surveillance technology, but if the people in your organization don’t use it, think about it or ignore the equipment, then it will have no value.

If you run or operate your own business it is relatively easy to build security awareness.  You can make sure that your employees get training on security topics and that they understand, or at least have been exposed to, the reasons that security is important.  The trick, of course, is in the details.  How do you train, or better yet, truly engage your employees to focus on security? 

On the other hand, if you don’t run a department or are not in an official leadership position, how do you get your organization to shift some focus to security?  That can be more of a challenge.  You may not be able to conduct any type of training or even update policies or take any other official steps.

There are some common solutions in both of these cases.  In either case, you can lead by example.  In the first scenario, as the company leader, you can dictate that everyone will attend training, but that will not automatically mean everyone will comply.  Ask any manager.  How much effort is spent giving clear direction and timely feedback to get even normal tasks completed in the way needed?  So start living by the same rules you want everyone else to follow.  Lock your office door when you leave.  Don’t leave your computer password on a Post-it note on the monitor.  Keep valuable or proprietary documents stored safely, not left in a briefcase in plain view in an unlocked car.  Overtime, your co-workers and your employees will start to notice.  Most will realize that these are just ‘common sense’ measures that can protect your business and will follow your example.  This can be the first step towards a security aware culture.

If you cannot change training procedures or new employee orientation to include more formal training, you still have options.  Check with your local police department.  Many will have community officers available to come by your office and help assess your risks at no cost.  It won’t be an in-depth security assessment, but it can be a helpful tool to remind your co-workers and your managers about some basic security steps.  And it is not coming from you, it is coming from your neighborhood police officer. 

The same officer or group can also provide some free training.  Many police departments have some really good training sessions on topics like personal safety.  Set up a ‘brown bag’ session at lunch time and invite co-workers to attend.  This can be a great way to start shifting that focus to a secure workplace.  It is also a great chance to build a relationship with your local responders and give them a chance to get to know your business, the building layout and your worries or concerns about crime. 

Another way to improve security awareness is to pass on information related to security risks or crimes in the surrounding area or within your industry in other areas.  When you come across a news story that could be related to your situation, pass it on. 

A word of caution – don’t try to sway everyone with the warning that the sky is falling.  Keep your efforts to create a security awareness program based on a realistic approach for your business.  If you are able to show how some attention on security issues can actually help your business, you will be much more successful in the long run.  Focus on the issues that really do create threats.  For example, if neighboring businesses have had purse snatches during the day from their offices that is a great warning to pass on.  However, treating the plans for your company picnic like the secret recipe for the 11 herbs and spices used by KFC will quickly lose you your credibility.  Remember, if you cry that the sky is falling day after day, eventually, you will be ignored.  Even on the day it does fall.

Security awareness programs really are important for all organizations, whether it is a home business, church office, school or Fortune 500 company.  This is a topic that will be a recurring theme in this blog, from developing formal training programs to helping identify areas that need that focus and have been overlooked.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Welcome and Introduction

Security and safety are interesting aspects of a business, as well as in our personal lives.  Security and safety are one of the basic elements of Maslow's hierarchy and necessary for growth.  The same applies in terms of business security.  If you are unable to protect your business, you will not grow.  In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about 1/3 of all businesses fail due to security concerns.  Emergency management is another key concern.  Many businesses who suffer some form of disaster, never recover.

Most business managers, leaders, owners and even employees are more focused on survival in the market place and not thinking about the security risks.  The purpose of this blog is to create a format where people from any type of organization or enterprise can learn how they can create a safer workplace, whether they are the owner of a small home-based business, work for a larger company, or even the CEO of a large company.

Let me tell you a little about my background and where I am coming from.  I am the director of security for a large healthcare system in Colorado, with three main locations.  I worked in local law enforcement for 11 years, where I had the chance to work as part of a special team, focused on restoring a sense of safety to a business district that had become overrun with drug activity.

I have a bachelor degree in International Business and Marketing, so have a somewhat diverse background.  Throughout this blog, I will touch on management and leadership issues, as well as workplace violence, business security and any other related topic that comes up.  Enjoy.