Workplace Violence

Employee Terminations – Are they part of your Workplace Violence Emergency Plan?

A workplace violence incident in Aurora, Illinois recently raises the question; “Do you have a written plan for employee terminations in your organization?” Workplace safety experts believe too many employers are not taking proper precautions when it comes to planning and preparing!

The shooting in Aurora resulted in the death of six employees, including the gunman, and injuries to six police officers. Workplace homicides caused by intentional shootings by another person are a major workplace safety concern for employers with 351 homicides in this category reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, with another 47 people stabbed to death by another person in their workplaces.

The shooter in Aurora was an employee who reportedly had been asked to come in to be terminated at the time of the incident. Ever since a workplace violence incident involving an employee of the Connecticut lottery in 1998, the best practice has been to conduct terminations off-siteor to ensure the person does not bring a weapon onto or into the facility. 

Having an emergency action plan that addresses employee terminations is “a must,” but also training human resource employees to recognize potential signsthat a colleague could pose a threat is imperative.  Do your employees understand how to interpret body language or how to phrase comments to deescalate a situation? Many employers are ignoring the signs and are slow to believe it will happen to their workplace. In this day and age, every organization needs to have a process in place for employee terminationsto provide a level of protection for anyone involved in the termination process such as those conducting the termination or the supervisors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether or not security personnel are considered part of the termination process should be guided by an employee’s past behavior. If there have been incidents of fighting, expressive outbursts or other hostile attitude, then having security nearby is wise. In the Aurora incident, it had been reported that the employee had been “belligerent” and frequently broke workplace rules.Training employees is one of the most important aspects which should be incorporated into your plan – HR employees especially need to know how to recognize when a person may present a threat to the organization.

Every multi-faceted program requires management buy-into be effective. And in the case of workplace violence program, management will immediately understand liability. So, start by analyzing insurance policies for gaps in coverage. Any active shooter or assailant event could trigger coverage under virtually every policy, including workers compensation. Physical and often emotional injuries will impact every part of your risk management program.

U.S. active shooter scenarios reached an all-time high in 2017 with 30 incidents, up 50% from the previous year, while active shooter fatalities spiked in 2017 to 729, more than three times the nation’s previous high of 214 deaths according to FBI statistics. Forty-two percent of active shooter incidents since the year 2000 have occurred in the workplace.

“While no one can completely prepare for horrific acts of violence, smart workplace strategies can help mitigate threats and better protect workers” commented Brian Hammer, chair of ASSP’s technical report committee who spent 20 years in law enforcement.

There are five key steps in developing any workplace violence plan: 1) determine vulnerabilities; 2) harden the site (security cameras, access control systems, etc.); 3) train staff (tabletop drills, tactical drills and practice sessions); 4) coordinate with local responding agencies (ensures they know the layout of your organization to improve emergency response times); and 5) prepare for post-incident issues (a business continuity plan, crisis-management plan, decision-tree, etc.).

Bring together a safety response team who can help design your site-specific plan. Include a risk and threat assessment to ask yourself questions; 1) how would a shooter gain access to and move around your facility?  2) Should a shooter gain access, what could be done to reduce victims?  3) Do employees know how to run, hide and/or fight if their environment were threatened?

In addition to tabletop and practice exercises, communication is critical. Experience has shown that communication is the quickest area to break down in any emergency situation. Once you have a plan developed, how do you communicate it out to all employees. How do you keep it current and readily on the minds of every employee? It takes work to be prepared but the results will be invaluable. Practice is key, because under stress, humans resort to what they ‘know’. If you practice, then you will know what to do!

If you want guidance to get started, some helpful resources are listed below:

The American Society of Safety Professionals published a technical report to help develop a response to violent incidents. The document, “How to Develop and Implement an Active Shooter/Armed Assailant Plan,” contains recommendations from more than 30 safety experts on how businesses can better protect themselves ahead of such incidents.  The plan is available through ASSP.org and cost $110 to purchase.

ASIS International has also published Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention (WVPI.1), an American Standard which can be purchased through asisonline.org for $117.

And of course, you are welcome to contact Security Engineers for further information.

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Integrating Security Technology

As the nation learned this week, often the most harrowing situations can play out totally apart from public purview. Three people searching for copper wire in an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia were rescued following four excruciating days trapped inside. A fourth person had escaped the mine earlier and brought law enforcement and rescue teams to the location of the mine. In what seemed like an unlikely outcome, all three people were rescued Wednesday relatively unscathed, checked by medical staff and released to their families.

While investigations regarding the legality of their entrance to the mine are still underway, their survival has played out like a holiday ‘miracle’ for their families and loved ones. It could have easily ended with a much less celebratory outcome.

These types of situations remind us that even unoccupied spaces present great practical and litigious risk to those who happen upon it and the owners/key stakeholders of the management process. Security for these types of facilities is a cost-effective mitigation and rapid response tool that more than pays for itself by preventing just one situation like the one in WV.

Integrating technology into a solid security program creates a more dynamic posture for business/property owners. One such technology is the GroundAware radar solution by O.W.L. (Observation Without Limits) offered and managed by Security Engineers. This local radar surveillance tool alerts security responders when people/vehicles enter or exit a predetermined area, giving them immediate warning of a possible intrusion. This force multiplier allows professional security response to specific locations without the delays often associated with the relay of eyewitness accounts or post-incident discovery. It also pairs the radar alarm with CCTV capabilities to document the incursion for investigative purposes.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/west-virginia-mine-rescue-spurs-concerns-over-copper-thefts-after-group-trapped-underground-for-days

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Stranger Danger

Imagine a scenario, two children are walking near a park when a stranger approached them in a SUV. The stranger tells the children that the brother of one of them “has been in a serious accident” and he had been asked to come pick them up.

What do the children do?

We know what they SHOULD do… but someone has come to get them after one’s brother has been in a serious accident. No matter how much and how often we tell out children about Stranger Danger, there is always the possibility that a dangerous stranger will have just the right story to tell that will overcome all of the warnings, all of the talks, all of the awareness we try so hard to instill in our children.

The scenario that began this post actually happened. One of the children was a 10-year old girl in Arizona named Maddison. Fortunately for Maddison, her family had come-up with a brilliant idea. They had come-up with a ‘Family Code Word’ for situations just like this.

Maddison didn’t have to think through all the options in her situation, she didn’t have to worry about her brother possibly being seriously injured, think if her mom would have really sent someone to pick her up, and she didn’t even have to listen to the stranger to try to discern if the story was true.

All she had to do was instantly ask one simple question: “What is the Family Code Word?”

Maddison asked that question, and – in her own words – “He kind of froze his face and drove off”. She added during an interview “I was scared because if I would’ve hopped in, I didn’t know what he would do to me”.

Fortunately, when the stranger came to her with a scary story meant to cause her fear and anxiety so that her ability to think, reason, and react appropriately was compromised, Maddison didn’t have to think. All Maddison had to remember was to ask, “What is the Family Code Word?” When the stranger didn’t know it, she didn’t have any more decisions to make. She knew the only thing she had to do was run home and tell the adult there what had happened.

Your ‘Family Code Word’ is a single word… easy to remember, but hard to guess. It could be a name, a color, or a number. It could be weird, whacky, odd, or not… it just can’t be common or easily figured-out. In use, as soon as a stranger attempts to start a conversation with your child, all your child says is “What is the Family Code Word”.

If the stranger knowns the code word, teach your child that they have permission to keep talking to the stranger, but they also still have the responsibility to be wary, to be smart, and to be safe. If the stranger doesn’t know it, tell them that the stranger is lying to them, to not talk to them anymore, and that they need to run to safety.

“Family Code Word”, a great idea, implement it with your children as quickly as possible!

Have questions or safety concerns? To contact us, please fill out the form below:

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Synagogue Shooting

Whitehouse Speculates that Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Might Have Ended Differently had an Armed Security Officer Been Present

By: Mark B. Quimby | Director of Training & Development | Security Engineers, Inc.

Violence, in all of its various forms, is a blight on a free society built upon individual rights and liberty. Nothing else flies in the face of freedom like the disregard for human life shown in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue where a gunman killed 11 people and injured several others. Our thoughts are with those who suffered loss as a result of this heinous crime.

In his comments to the press following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the President speculated that an armed security officer might have drastically impacted the outcome in a very positive way (Hains, 2018). As professionals in the field know, simply having an armed officer does not guarantee the outright prevention of a violent event or the mitigation of casualty if one takes place. That being said, the potential benefit of having an equaling force on-sceneis hard to dismiss.

Armed security officers are not a wholistic ‘cure’ for violence, but they have great potential to be part of an effective ‘treatment.’ It is important to note, a person with a gundoes not equate a competent/capable force-multiplier. Excellent training and managerial oversight are the keys to the deployment of an effective armed force prepared for real-world risks.

These armed officers are only a single part of an excellent integrated security plan, designed to bolster the safety of private institutions in the face of actual dangers. Internal polices focused on organization-wide education, highly-trained security professionals and cutting-edge technologies (such as gunshot detection, dynamic access control frameworks, and mass notification systems) all blend together to increase preparedness in tangible ways.

“What value should we place on real security and does our capital budget reflect that appraisal?”

We will never know for certain if having a well-trained, well-managed armed security officer as part of a thorough integrated security approach could have made a positive impact on the outcome in Pittsburgh. What we can do, however, is take an honest look at our own security plans and ask the hard questions necessary for informed mitigation/response practices. Namely, what value should we place on real security and does our capital budget reflect that appraisal?

If you are interested in an evaluation of your security protocols or bolstering your security posture, contact Security Engineers, Inc. below and let us build an integrated solution for you. Dynamic threats require potent solutions and we are prepared to legitimize your security posture with value and excellence.

 

Reference

Hains, T.  (October 28, 2018) Trump: “Terrible” Synagogue Shooting Could Have Been Prevented If They

Had “Protection Inside The Temple”Retrieved from: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video /2018/10/28/trump_terrible_synagogue_shooting_could_have_been_prevented_if_they_has_protection_inside_the_temple.html

 

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Social Engineering

“Cyber Security” covers a LOT of digital territory and responsibility for it belongs to every user within an organization. No matter how much time, money and effort a company puts into it’s cyber security efforts in the background, a single user can open the door for a digital intruder who can lay waste to everything.

Every user of a computer is subject to a social engineering attack. In such an attack, the goal is to tempt or trick a user to provide their credentials to some computer resource – for example, their workstation or laptop; their e-mail, or their network logon – so the attacker can gain access to the resource. Once the attacker gains access, they leverage that access to penetrate even deeper into the user or company’s privacy to either gain access to data that is usable to the attacker, or to exploit the resource to attack other systems or networks.

Whatever the reason, for the social engineering attack, it is always up to the end user to halt it in its tracks! To do that, it helps to know what a social engineering attack “looks” like.

The most common social engineering attacks occur via e-mail. Typically, a user receives an e-mail that is unexpected, unusual or ominous. The e-mail will usually try to get the user to act with urgency. Phrases like, “…act quickly…”, “…don’t miss this opportunity…” and terms such-as “…critical…” and “…important…” are used. Warnings about dire consequences – business-critical services being interrupted or the users reputation will be harmed if no action is taken – are  common.

Once an attacker has the users attention with dire warnings and serious consequences, they want the user to do something RIGHT NOW!!! “To get this important message, click this link and enter your e-mail address and password!” is a favorite one that is used to gain access to a personal or corporate e-mail account.

Don’t fall for their non-sense…ever. To ease your concerns over whether a message is legitimate or not doesn’t take long. Just follow these simple steps;

First, does the message make sense? Is the message formatted like other messages? Does the message read like a typical business communication? Do any links in the message  (don’t click them, just hover the mouse pointer over a link to read where it links-to) match the supposed message sender or the message content?

Next, what’s the rush? Social engineering messages almost always try to develop a sense of urgency in the user. The attacker wants the end user to ACT before THINKING…because if the users ACTS it’s too late to think. Generally, the more urgent the message seems, the more likely it is a social engineering attack.

Last, is the message trying to get the user to do something unusual or unexpected? “Click this link, that goes to this weird web address, and enter your e-mail address AND password, to get this very important  thing…or, to fix this very serious problem…or, to keep us from releasing all your secrets…or, whatever. Oh, and you better hurry!, hurry!!, hurry!!!”

Don’t fall for it… and if you do, don’t hesitate to let your I.T. Management Team know you did. Falling for a social engineering attack is not commonly a job-ending event. Knowing you fell for one, then not speaking up so that the damage can be stopped and corrected quickly, commonly is.

If you need help with your cyber security plan or any security related mission, contact us by completing the information below. Someone from our team will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

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Post Hurricane Security Response

Post Hurricane Security Response — Enhanced Recovery through Immediate Action

Hurricanes, like all large-scale natural disasters, not only present risk to life and limb, but also to infrastructures and financial continuity. According to the Office for Coastal Management at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hurricanes created a cumulative cost of $306.2 billion dollars in 2017 alone (NOAA, 2018).  It is imperative that businesses not only involve their security departments in any emergency management plans, but also engage the contract security firm regarding response planning after the storm subsides.

Having a detailed response plan prepared that allocates assets to be placed on standby, often from outside the affected impact zone, is critical to a rapid and effective recovery. Unfortunately, recovery plans are often based on the availability of security responders local to the affected region. By the time key stakeholders realize their ‘cavalry’ is just as pinned down as they are, it is too late to coordinate effectively with other providers.

Businesses commonly find themselves implementing temporary repairs- such as the integration of backup power sources, while simultaneously beginning permanent reconstruction of damaged infrastructures and physical assets. Having physical security elements immediately on the scene for these efforts creates a safer environment for operations to commence and be completed in the necessary timeframe. Response opportunities not only include ‘boots on the ground’ in the form of licensed, professional Security Officers, but also as integrated solutions like drones used for flyovers to assess damage, identify weak points in a security perimeter and record/monitor key assets in real time. 

Some businesses such as financial institutions, medical facilities and transportation services are critical to the restoration of the entire community. Streamlining the secure recovery of these entities is absolutely vital to the health of the locale. It is all the more important these institutions actively seek out partners to preemptively coordinate post-disaster response plans.

All businesses provide significant equity to the surrounding community, and to those who earn their living -directly and indirectly- from the products/services they provide. Each stakeholder within an organization tasked with security operations and/or emergency management, should ensure his/her institution is preparing effectively for disaster response. They should also push to have any procurement of security services take the respective firms’ ability to provide disaster response from beyond the immediate geographic area. An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure.

If you are looking for this sort of disaster response coverage, contact our corporate management team with the ‘contact us’ tools below. We would love the opportunity to help you construct integrated solutions that best fit your needs and location. We have decades of experience with disaster response and mature program to provide it both efficiently and cost effectively.

 

Reference

NOAA (10, 03, 2018) Fast Facts: Hurricane Costs. Retrieved from https://coast.noaa.gov/states/fast-facts/hurricane-costs.html

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Natural Disaster Response

Enhance Resource Protection and Overall Response to Hurricane Michael by Using Drones and Trained Response Teams

 

CBS News – Hurricane Michael

As Hurricane Michael approaches the Florida panhandle, the size and expected damage continue to increase dramatically. Current forecasts call for landfall at Category 3, Major Hurricane, status. According to the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane is expected to have sustained winds well in excess of 100 MPH. Mandatory evacuations have been posted by government officials in Bay Country Florida impacting some 120,000 people in Bay County alone. https://www.cbsnews.com/video/hurricane-michael-takes-aim-at-florida-panhandle/

As prepared business owners prepare for the storm and implement their business continuity plans, one of the biggest challenges post storm is the access, assessment and protection of their critical company resources. As flooding, erosion, downed trees and power lines close roads or entire areas, mother nature also wreaks havoc with communication channels and in particular access to CCTV systems and even cellular based communication becomes intermittent or completely unavailable.

To mitigate this challenge, businesses are incorporating technology and specialized teams into their recovery operations. By using unmanned quadcopters, businesses can deploy the craft onto facility grounds to assess damage, potential risks (i.e. power lines, hazardous debris, etc). With trained personnel that understand FAA rules and regulations pertaining to unmanned aircraft, the aircraft can quickly record the environment on the ground without the risk of travel and send updates back to the appropriate personnel.

At Security Engineers, the Security Engineers Drone Response Team (SE-DRT), is focused on helping businesses and assess and protect their critical business resources by leveraging both the latest technological advances with a professional security officer corps. The SE-DRT is unique as it couples drone assessment capability with professional security officers trained in facility protection post disaster.  After assessment and ingress routes are determined, SE-DRT personnel can deploy armed officers to sites and establish security perimeters as required. The SE-DRT is pooled for multiple clients in a given disaster area and clients can leverage this a cost effective solution to their individual response plans. If this approach is needed by your business, please contact us to learn more.

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Cybersecurity

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. How aware are you and your company? 

Like it or not, we live in a digital world. Every move we make in our lives is recorded by our cars, smartphones, computers, tablets and whatever other technology we use. While all of this technology makes are lives much easier, it also puts us at high-risk for cyber attacks if we don’t take the necessary precautions.  

Have you ever used Google to research something only to have an ad for that product or topic pop up on social media? Or driven past a store then received a text message with their coupon on your smartphone? This is because our lives have become a digital footprint. This new form of technology or terminology is called the Internet of Things (IoT). It means that billions of sensors and smart devices will connect and share information with each other in order to enhance the collective experience of the end user. Without a doubt the Internet of Things makes our lives easier and has many invaluable benefits; but we can only reap these benefits if our Internet of Things is safer, more secure and trusted. 

Here are some basic tips and advice courtesy of stopthinkconnect.org:

1.) KEEP A CLEAN MACHINE

KEEP SECURITY SOFTWARE CURRENT: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.

AUTOMATE SOFTWARE UPDATES: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.

PROTECT ALL DEVICES THAT CONNECT TO THE INTERNET: Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

PLUG & SCAN: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

2.) PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

LOCK DOWN YOUR LOGIN: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Use two-step authentication whenever possible.

MAKE YOUR PASSWORD A SENTENCE: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!

UNIQUE ACCOUNT, UNIQUE PASSWORD: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.

WRITE IT DOWN AND KEEP IT SAFE: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.

3.) CONNECT WITH CARE

WHEN IN DOUBT THROW IT OUT: Links in emails, social media posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.

GET SAVVY ABOUT WI-FI HOTSPOTS: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.

PROTECT YOUR $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. If a site uses “http://,” do not use it for online shopping because the site is not secure.

4.) BE WEB WISE

STAY CURRENT: Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.

THINK BEFORE YOU ACT: Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true or that ask for personal information.

BACK IT UP: Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

5.) BE A GOOD ONLINE CITIZEN

SAFER FOR ME, MORE SECURE FOR ALL: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.

POST ONLINE ABOUT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM POST ABOUT YOU: The Golden Rule applies online as well.

HELP THE AUTHORITIES FIGHT CYBERCRIME: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
(www.ic3.gov) and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.

6.) OWN YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE

PERSONAL INFORMATION IS LIKE MONEY. VALUE IT. PROTECT IT: Information about you, such as your purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites.

BE AWARE OF WHAT’S BEING SHARED: Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

SHARE WITH CARE: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future. For instance, consider waiting until you arrived home safely to post pictures and videos of your vacation so your home is not a target for a burglar.

JUST REMEMBER….  STOP. THINK. CONNECT.  

For more tips and valuable information on keeping yourself and your company safe in this ever-evolving digital world, please visit these valuable resources:

dhs.gov/ncsam
staysafeonline.org/ncsam
dhs.gov/cybersecurity-publications
stopthinkconnect.org
stopthinkconnect.org/resources
fbi.gov/news/stories/ncsam-2018

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