Protecting against Terrorism

It's the invisible enemy, and nobody knows where it will strike next. How to protect yourselves?

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Audit your risks. Your first step is to assess the level of danger throughout your organisation, and which assets could be threatened. Is it your people, your buildings, or infrastructure that you manage? Then assess the level of protection already in place. An external consultant may be the best party to carry this out.

Focus on hot spots. 'You can expend a lot of money in the wrong place, or alternatively, you can do nothing at all because it looks too daunting,' says Mark Harris, director of crisis management, EMEA, for Control Risks Group. 'The key is to funnel the resources where the real threat is.'

Acquire intelligence. Companies with offices overseas can get intelligence direct from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office via the Security Information Service for Businesses Overseas (SISBO), which has a co-ordinator in each embassy and consulate. Also, tap into local chambers of commerce. In the UK, liaise with your local police force about specific threats.

Evaluate perceptions. Is your firm strongly identified with one country or issue? Do you have any relationships or highly sensitive assets that would make you a target?

Develop a contingency plan. Consider how you would cope with likely scenarios. For example, how would you evacuate your building in an emergency? Or retrieve your data? It's vital that plans are regularly updated - do the telephone numbers in the plan actually work?

Build layers of protection. At a high-risk location you might start, if practical, by keeping a low profile. Layers of physical protection range from creating a stand-off for vehicles and filtering entry to your offices to checking packages and putting protective film on your windows. 'In multi-occupancy buildings, make security a joint, communal effort,' says MI5's guidance to business (mi5.gov.uk). 'Common access control procedures can be agreed or CCTV cameras can be sited for maximum overall benefit. Effectiveness can be increased and costs greatly reduced in the process.'

Keep tabs on travellers. When staff travel overseas, make sure you know exactly where they are, and they know where not to go, says Harris. 'They've got to be aware of what's happening around them, and what to do if they don't like something.' Be ready to reassure spouses if an incident occurs, as mobile phone lines can go down.

Expect the unexpected. 'Do look around you, and make sure you know who your neighbours are. You may not be a target for a bomb attack but they might,' adds Harris.

Do say: 'Following a comprehensive risk analysis, we have decided to strengthen security measures in the following areas...'

Don't say: 'If someone's going to attack us, there's nothing we can do about it.'

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