It has recently been reported that the Church of England has moved millions of pounds’ worth of valuables to the Tower of London for safekeeping whilst their churches remain unoccupied during the lockdown. Although the security provided by the Tower may not be an option to everyone, it is important that businesses and individuals think about their unoccupied premises, and the possessions contained within them.
Unfortunately, with properties being left empty, various police forces have reported a rising number of commercial break-ins. In many cases, critical IT infrastructure remains in these buildings, as well as stock and other valuables. It is therefore vital that steps are taken to protect these often-unguarded properties.
Most intruders, before conducting a break-in, will have conducted some sort of reconnaissance. You should therefore start to think about what is listed about your property online and whether this information may make your property more vulnerable to attack. One way to think about this is to put yourself in the intrudes’ shoes; if you were to attack your property, what information would you look for online; what would you identify as your property’s vulnerabilities; and how would you conduct the break in?
Once you’ve answered these questions you can then start to take steps to mitigate the risk of an intrusion. Some of the material that you find online could easily be removed, for example deleting social media posts containing images of your property or requesting that Google blurs images of your property on Street View.
After strengthening the online security of your property, it is then worth conducting some or all of the following 6 steps to strengthen your property’s physical security.
- Ensuring that CCTV/alarm systems are still working;
- Investing in recognised security standard locks, windows and doors;
- Installing floodlights (preferably with infrared motion detector sensors);
- Moving high value items into secure locations (or at the very least out of sight);
- Employing security guards at your properties; and
- Investing in smart detector systems to alert you, and a monitoring company, if windows and doors are open.
When returning to empty properties at the end of lockdown, you should ensure that your property, and importantly your IT equipment, have not been tampered with (either by employees or outsiders). It may be worth delaying bringing your employees back into the office by a couple of days to conduct an audit to ensure both that nothing has been removed, and that nothing malicious has been placed. You should also consider retraining all of your employees on security measures to ensure they remain resilient when returning to the office as many peoples’ guards will be down as they have become accustomed to working from home.
With all the other concerns everyone is currently facing, do not let having to deal with the aftermath of an intrusion add to these. Protecting your empty properties will provide you with some assurance that they are safe and secure and is one step you can take to aid a smooth transition back to normality.