Physical security versus cyber security

Businesses operating today face a growing number of security threats in both the physical and digital world.

Last year alone, small businesses suffered 79,635 cyber security breaches, while a 2019 report published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed that 50% have been the victim of physical crime.

So, what can companies do to reduce their risk?

In this guide, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the most common types of crimes businesses face on and offline and what can be done about them.


Cyber security threats

Cybercrime against businesses can take many forms. Whilst the crimes themselves might not be physical in nature, cyberattacks can damage consumer trust and leave businesses significantly out of pocket.

Here are the top types of cybercrimes targeted at businesses:


  • Phishing emails – Phishing emails aim to gain illicit access to valuable assets, such as passwords and accounts. At first look, the email will appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or the government (cyber criminals go to great lengths to replicate the branding of known businesses). The criminal is hoping to trick the recipient into sharing information they can then exploit, like passwords or bank details.


  • Malware infection – Malware is defined as malicious software. It can have all kinds of purposes, from spying on you to stealing data saved on your systems. A malware infection can occur when a user clicks on a fake link, downloads a program from the Internet, or connects to an unsecured WIFI network


  • Ransomware attacks – Ransomware, like malware, is when a dangerous code infects your operating systems. This kind of attack locks you out of your files by adding an encryption key. The cybercriminal will then demand a ransom to remove the encryption.


Protecting your business against cyber crime

Cyber security, just like physical security, is about putting layers of security in place that will work together to reduce or limit potential risk. This should include implementing key processes and technologies that will limit the chance of an issue and also training staff, with human error being behind most successful cyberattacks. All such measures should be reviewed and updated regularly.

With cyber threats evolving at pace, it can be very difficult to stay ahead of the game. If you don’t have the budget for an internal IT team, then working with an experienced, external IT provider can ensure you are on top of the latest threats and have someone to turn to in case of any problem. Be careful to chose an IT company with the right experience and accreditations to ensure peace of mind. Like physical security companies, there are many IT providers who will not take responsibility for their actions when their security and/or backups fail.


Physical security threats

Physical security threats not only put premises and equipment at risk, they can also put employees in harm’s way. That’s because unlike cybercrimes that penetrate IT systems remotely, with physical crimes the perpetrator is present.

Here’s a look at some of the most common physical crimes against businesses:


  • Vandalism – Vandalism is when a business is subject to malicious damage. It can range from acts that deface a property’s appearance, for example, graffiti, to those that physically damage aspects of a building, such as smashed windows. Vandalism can cost businesses significant money to rectify and can also temporarily disrupt day-to-day operations, which comes at its own cost.


  • Theft /burglary – Commercial burglary or theft can have more serious consequences for a business. Thieves may make off with thousands of pounds worth of physical goods and business critical equipment with a high re-sale value, such as computers and hard drives, which may also contain highly sensitive information you wouldn’t want in the wrong hands. Aside from the replacement value of lost equipment and materials, the delays to the business following a burglary can be devastating.

    Theft and burglaries can destroy small to medium sized businesses, particularly if the incident happens as a result of human error, which can mean insurance is invalidated, or if the claim is taking a long time to pay out and operations are severely disrupted.


  • Violence or threats against staff - A physical threat towards a member of staff could be anything from intimidating language and profanities to actually inflicting bodily harm. If a business deals with customers or members of the public, the possibility of face-to-face, violence or threatening actions towards staff is unfortunately a very real possibility.


  • Arson – Arson is the deliberate act of starting a fire with malicious intent. It’s a very serious crime in Britain, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment as outlined in the 1971 criminal damage act.

    Arson can completely destroy business premises, taking valuable assets a company owns with it. It can also endanger the life of any employees who may be on site.


Protecting your business against physical security threats

Here are some key security measures you can put in place to deter criminals from targeting your business and also minimise any potential harm they might cause.


Install CCTV

CCTV (closed circuit television) is a popular choice for many businesses and when used correctly, (preferably) monitored and acted upon, it can be very effective. Not only is the presence of CCTV helpful in deterring would-be criminals, it can also provide valuable evidence for insurance claims and police investigations.


Invest in manned guarding

Having a visible security presence on site can be a great way to reduce the risk of crime – particularly if it’s a larger site with lots of staff and visitors coming in and out throughout the day. As well as providing front of house duties, including reception, you may have security officers carrying out regular patrols of the premises to spot any issues, and generally promoting the safety of staff and visitors.


Implement mobile security patrols

In the same way, signing up for mobile security patrols that entail having security officers visiting your premises at random times throughout the night can put off would-be criminals. Not only do security patrols reduce any window of opportunity for a criminal to gain access to buildings and assets, but they can spot maintenance issues and ensure everything is as it should be and provide advance warning of issues to the facilities team.


Outsource your key holding needs

While it may be tempting to use employees as key holders this can also lead to certain risks. In the case of responding to alarms out of hours, it can be quite unpleasant for the individual concerned and could see them faced with a difficult situation. Making use of a professional key holding service, with fully trained security officers carrying out this function is cost effective and helps limit who has access to the premises.


Train staff

As with cyber security, training staff on key threats and security protocols is advisable. For example, get them to be mindful of leaving valuables in plain sight or unattended. Have a process for locking all doors and windows and checking it’s been done. And have team members keep an eye out for any unfamiliar faces, or unusual activity in the workplace. Make it a team effort to keep the work environment safe.


Outsource your security

Outsourcing your security to a professional firm is a great way to gain the security protection your business needs at an affordable and flexible rate.


At Venture Security, we partner with regional businesses and UK councils across the central southern region, offering a range of security services, tailored to our clients’ needs. Whether you want manned guarding, mobile security patrols, help in locking and unlocking your premises, or support in responding to alarms out of hours, we can help.

Contact us today on 01264 391538 to discuss the many ways our licensed security operatives can protect your people, property and premises.