layered security

Layered Security and COVID-19

Chuck HurstNews, Security Program Development

layered security graphicAt Protus3, we take great pride in helping our clients identify risks and develop practical and sound strategies to manage, mitigate, and leverage those risks.  Usually those risks involve insider or outsider threats carried out by persons with nefarious intent. The threats come in various forms – overt and plainly visible (think intruder) or covert and not plainly evident (think intellectual property theft or embezzlement). The common denominator to both is the human element.

But what about a threat involving the human element that is so insidious there is no level of detection? The human can pose a deadly risk and legitimately be unaware that they pose any risk at all. How do you defend against the seemingly undefendable? (In the interest of full disclosure, the threat being discussed here is COVID-19 and asymptomatic carriers. These are persons who have the virus but have not exhibited any symptoms and thus are completely unaware of being a carrier.)

At Protus3, we believe in the integration of people, processes, and technology as the catalyst for protecting the safety and security of our clients. Therefore, it is our belief that dealing with this insidious threat would involve the same approach and employ the same principles used to confront a traditional or conventional threat. The basic concept is layered security.

Security is all about layers. The more layers that are in place, the more difficult it is for a person (think human element) to penetrate and carry out harm.

Layered Security

Let us begin with the layered effect in the security spectrum. Above all, access control is a key element. The concept of controlling or preventing access is central to any security program. Breaching one door may just lead to another interior door and control point. Deterrence and detection are likely outcomes as doors, barriers, funnel points and physical separation all provide a coordinated approach, that can offer “layered” protection.

Target hardening is a fundamental precept of any security plan or strategy. It is all about reducing vulnerabilities and making it so difficult or inconvenient that the bad actor looks elsewhere and moves on to a more inviting target.

Despite the military connotation, target hardening does not mean turning a business or company into a fortress or bunker. Used in conjunction with CPTED, it involves strengthening the overall security of the facility through a suite of measures that discourages or reduces the likelihood of a criminal act or event. The design and layout of the facility are considered as well as doors, windows, lighting, parking, fencing, barriers/ bollards, landscaping, and other factors.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) has been around for nearly sixty years in some form or fashion. Yet, such a tried and true concept applies even more so in our current environment.

Technology plays a vital role in any security program. For the purposes of this article, primary emphasis will involve security and/or surveillance cameras.

The Effect with COVID-19

What does the layered approach have to do with COVID-19? Firstly, it involves a mask – which can provide layered protection. A mask is a physical barrier that can prevent penetration by COVID-19. It can also reduce the spread of COVID-19 through the air. Healthcare workers have worn masks, gloves, scrubs, and other protective equipment for decades. It has nothing to do with comfort or coolness. It is all about safety of the patients and the healthcare workers. The likelihood of spreading infection, disease and germs is reduced by the use of this equipment. Does your business or company have a protective face covering policy or process? Is it just for staff or does it include customers, clients, vendors, visitors, and other outsiders?

Barriers in the form of polymer/plexiglass shields or screens are another obstacle for COVID-19 to penetrate. Are they feasible for your business or company?

Distance and separation can create deterrence for bad actors with ill intent. They can also create deterrence to the spread of COVID-19. Implement and practice safe distancing to the best extent possible.

CPTED focuses on environmental design. Use it to create distance and to limit entry and exit locations. If feasible, channel or route persons to specified and clearly marked points of ingress and egress. Eliminate avenues of two-way pedestrian flows.

Think beyond the security norm and focus on the work environment from the standpoint of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). Use internal maintenance staff or outside service staff to regularly check and maintain HVAC systems. COVID-19 travels through the air, the same air which is then recirculated through HVAC systems.

Does your business or company have controlled access? If so, this provides an opportunity to check for mask compliance and potentially screen persons entering for fever using touchless devices.

Security cameras can be utilized to observe persons for mask compliance, inappropriate social contacts, bouts of coughing/ sneezing, medical emergency, and other potential indicators. Think of them as safety cameras.

Signage is important. Encourage safety and discourage non-compliance by employees throughout all areas of the company or business. Prominently and conspicuously post signage pertaining to any safety requirements for all persons entering the premises and grounds. Contact external vendors or service agencies to educate them on requirements and expectations while onsite.

Finally, there are certain companies and business that practice preemptive security measures. This typically involves unannounced drills, readiness tests or penetration exercises. Protus3 acknowledges that this is not practical for all our clients. However, one preemptive safety measure that may be applicable across a broad spectrum is testing employees for COVID-19. This would aid in identifying the asymptomatic carriers as well as those who may have COVID-19 but failed to recognize or acknowledge the symptoms.

What can you do?

Used collectively, all the measures discussed in this article may reduce the spread of COVID-19 at your respective business or company. However, just like in life, there are no absolutes or 100% guarantees when it comes to security and safety. That is why companies like Protus3 exist. In closing, we leave you with the below thoughts.

It stands to reason that a business or company would go to great lengths to prevent an active shooter event that results in mass casualties. Such a horrific event is a matter of grave concern to all security professionals and business leaders alike. Consider, if you will, that an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 can produce the same outcome in the undefended or unprepared workplace. In short, that should be a matter of grave concern, too.