Accelerator: Tools of the trade - Safe and sound

Security is a perennial hot topic in business, but for SMEs it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, especially when it comes to protecting your digital assets. But important though IT security is, you can't ignore the dangers of plain old-fashioned breaking and entering. Here is accelerator's guide to products and services - both high and low-tech - to help you sleep more soundly at night.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013


These days, anyone who disposes of old bills, bank statements, returned cheques, client lists or even general commercial correspondence - anything with names and addresses on, really - without first passing it through the shredder is asking for trouble. Not only is identity theft a boom business, but your customers are also much more savvy about who has their details and what happens to them. And you never know who might be poking through your recycling. This agreeably sleek model from Fellowes is easier on the eye than most and benefits from a powerful motor that makes light work of up to 13 sheets of A4 paper at a time, as well as taking chewier mouthfuls like paperclips, credit cards and even CDs in its stride. It produces an extra-secure diamond-shaped shred, the 18-litre bin is a decent size and, best of all, a safety cut-off sensor should prevent anyone from getting their fingertips diced along with that old bad-debts list - handy for maintaining maximum productivity, we think you'll agree.

BMW B4 SECURITY CAR c.£50,000 (depending on spec)

OK, we know that this is going a bit beyond your typical everyday requirements, but such are the troubled times we live in that sales of 'hard shell' vehicles like this one are, ahem, booming. Based on the 530i saloon, this model is BMW's entry-level Security Car, built to the B4 European Standard (yes, there are Eurostandards for armoured cars, as well as for vegetables and money). Which means that every part of the car, including the windows and the floor, can stop bullets from a.44 magnum - as favoured by 'Dirty Harry' Callahan. Unlike some rivals, BMW security cars are assembled from scratch on the production line, rather than having their armour added afterwards, so that suspension, brakes and steering are all beefed up to match. Even the tyres are next-generation run-flats that can take a hit and still keep you rolling. Go ahead, make your day.

COVERT tie-camera £644.99

Here at accelerator we believe in straight talking and honest dealing - and we're sure that our fine, upstanding readers feel the same. Unfortunately, not everyone out there that you may be called on to do business with is quite so scrupulous, and for those occasions you may need something like this. It's a hi-tech spy cam, consisting of a hi-res miniature video camera and microphone hidden virtually invisibly in a tie. The receiver unit is small enough to fit in your inside pocket without making a bulge. Battery life is one hour and the whole shebang weighs just 91 grams. You'll need to provide your own 1Gb SD card, though. The tie itself - more polyester than hand-spun silk - won't win you any sartorial prizes, but it does what it says on the tin. Presumably, the makers think only men are likely to engage in such Boys' Own tactics, as there is no female equivalent. Just remember: recording people without their consent can be a criminal offence.

SOPHOS SECURITY SUITE, small-business edition £232.50

The net has been a great boon for SMEs, enabling them to compete internationally in ways that could never have been imagined in the old-economy days. But there is a downside - security. All that global connectivity makes it easier than ever for those with nefarious intentions to get inside your IT systems and wreak nine kinds of havoc before breakfast. This Sophos Security Suite software will help you stop them in their tracks. Offering integrated virus, spyware, adware, spam and hacker protection in one easy-to-use package, it works for Macs and PCs equally well, and on stand-alone systems or across networks and servers, too. It has hourly automatic updates, and even remote users are protected. So your systems should be safe even if you have to log in from a dodgy cyber cafe on holiday. It also - and this really is good news for the technologically challenged entrepreneur - includes free 24/7 expert support in the price. Finally, it comes highly recommended by the uber-geeks on our sister title Secure Computing, who really know their onions. A must-have.


Hi-tech crooks may be grabbing all the headlines these days, but there's nothing like the satisfying sense of security that comes with locking your company valuables away in a traditional, solidly constructed safe. And unless you regularly have Croesan sums of cash to safeguard, you don't have to splash out too much to get one worth having, either. This model from Burton Safes is suitable for wall or floor-mounting, and with its solid steel body and 10mm steel-plate door (with anti-drill protection, of course), is rated suitable for safeguarding £40,000 of valuables or up to £4,000 in folding money. It has a double-bitted lock and a three-way bolt (no, we're not sure what these are either) and was recently voted Best on Test by Which?. In fact, it was the only safe that the consumer bible's testers were unable to get into. Just don't leave the key under the doormat.

SONY VAIO BX series laptop from £762.00

Like all Sony Vaios, the BX Series is a smart and well-made piece of kit. Unlike some of them, though, it's fairly quiet to look at. But then, this is a laptop that takes your security very seriously indeed - you'd hardly want it in metallic pink, would you? Beneath the businesslike exterior lurks technology that was pure James Bond fantasy only a few years ago: a built-in fingerprint scanner. Once activated, this handy device prevents the machine from booting up without a swipe of the proprietorial digit. So unless they are prepared to resort to desperate measures, no-one can use it without your say-so. It also contains a Trusted Platform Module chip, which supports data encryption both locally on the machine and also over office networks and even the web. This laptop boasts a great screen, a decent processor and a hard drive of up to 120Gb. Hacking into it probably wouldn't give MI5 many sleepless nights, but it does offer enhanced security off the shelf. So, if leaving your laptop on a train or in a bar is the stuff of your nightmares, the BX is a great buy.

GUARD DOG £15 per hour, including handler

There's no doubt that dogs can be a powerful deterrent against opportunist theft. One accelerator staffer recalls the tale of the entrepreneur whose alarm was disabled and CCTV bypassed by a potential thief, only for the ne'er-do-well to be defeated by nine stone of angry Rottweiller. Taken to the vet next day after going off its food, the loyal hound had two severed digits removed from its gullet. This brings a new meaning to the expression 'light-fingered'. Poetic justice it may have been, but we can't recommend such draconian measures. If you feel the need for some canine security, don't try enlisting the family pooch, either. Much better to invest in a professional guard dog-and-handler team to patrol your premises, who between them will be able to provide a more appropriate level of physical protection. Look for a Security Industry Authority licensed provider in your area.

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