A major California utility was contacted by the FBI, revealing unauthorized photos of its plant had been posted on the internet. The security risks this presented prompted the utility to rethink its physical security approach.
By the time a major California utility was contacted by the FBI, unauthorized photos of its plant had already been posted on the Internet. A prankster teen had gained access to the plant by climbing over a decorative monument and walked freely with a camera snapping shots of the plant’s operation, the location of critical assets and the various chemicals stored and used.
Only months before the incident, a thorough physical security assessment offered low-cost solutions to immediately address this utility’s security vulnerabilities, including securing the monument to prevent unauthorized entry.
“Unfortunately, like many other companies in this down economy, budget restraints kept even the most inexpensive solutions from being implemented,” says Steve Brown, CPP, Global Security Services director, for Burns & McDonnell. “For the first half of this past decade, people threw money at securing their facilities because the funding was available. When the economy took a turn, and it came time for cuts, security was automatically on the chopping block. But now what do we have?”
Not knowing the answer to that question can put facilities at risk for a host of security exposures. And finding the answer could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.
Change Your Mindset
Ironically, the same problems resulting from security complacency are the same things that can help in developing an effective and fiscally responsible security plan.
Annual assessments of your integrated security system — post orders (shift-specific duties assigned to security officers), policies and procedures, flow charts, access controls, closed-circuit television, and intrusion detection — can go a long way toward preventing a significant and high-cost security breach.
“The do-more-with-less approach hasn’t worked in the last five years, and it will not work in the coming years,” Brown says. “The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is one year away, and there is no better time to reflect on the impact of that attack than to re-evaluate your security initiatives and bring them current.”
Trying to do more with less should not be the driver to determine the level of safety and security provided for employees.
“The world is not getting safer. Ignoring the existence of bad doesn’t make it go away,” says R.J. Hope, CPP, senior physical security analyst. “Those making the decisions about security plans and budgets owe it to their employees, stockholders and the public to procure thorough assessments and develop sound security policies and procedures.”
Get the Right Help
Half the battle of developing the right security plan is understanding what security exposures exist. Professional security consultants work with local, state and federal agencies to gain insights about potential security threats and use that knowledge to strengthen facilities’ security systems.
The two most recognized certifications in the security industry are the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Physical Security Professional (PSP). Each of these credentials are administered by the Professional Certification Board of ASIS International, the world’s leading security organization. The CPP credential is recognized as the top standard in the industry and carries with it important legal liability protections under the Department of Homeland Security’s Safety Act of 2002.
“Security is about awareness and response,” Brown says. “If you turn to certified and trained security professionals, implementing the right security plan likely can be done for much less than you may expect, especially considering the potential costs of doing nothing.”
For more information, contact Steve Brown, 816-349-6754.