Back to Basics on Security

Last week we had a (thankfully) minor security breech that resulted in an a team member's cell phone being stolen off her desk. Someone from outside the company walked past the front desk like she knew where she was going and wandered the building for 12 minutes before leaving the way she came in. She then walked around the property for 8 more minutes trying doors (unsuccessfully) before leaving through the back field. By the time our staffer noticed the theft and reported it to her cell phone provider the thief had made 60 phone calls and sent 72 text messages, all to pre-paid phones. We identified one call recipient through a paid cell phone registry, pulled up her name in the local court website, and discovered a long history of petty theft and drug use. In other words, this was a professional job by professional petty criminals.

In reviewing video and talking to our employees we've discovered how this happened, and it represents a breakdown in some fundamental disciplines that we must reiterate.

  1. Front Desk Security: Challenging Strangers - We use the reception desk to give a positive first impression of the company. That won't change. However, these nice ladies don't know everybody, and sometimes people get ill with them if they stop someone who turns out to be an employee or long-time contractor. I have given them instructions beginning noon today to ask, "Can I help you?" anytime they don't know someone. Since they can't know everybody, some employees may get asked and that's okay. I urge you not to be offended as these ladies are doing this (a) under instructions from me and (b) for your safety.
  2. Front Desk Security: Requiring Name Badges - All non-employees are required to sign in daily to wear a visitors badge at all times. That is not a new policy, but one roundly ignored in some parts of the company. Beginning at noon today that policy will be strictly enforced. Nobody thought a thing about the young woman walking through our building because its not unusual to see temps, contractors, family members, etc... in the building without a badge.
  3. Children in the Building - Five people who saw this very petite young woman thought she was someone's teenager because its become so common to see children in the building. Our Handbook is specific and has not changed in eight years that the workplace is no place for kids. Visiting for a short period of time and escorted the entire time is fine. Staying with you after you've picked them up from sick day care just long enough to arrange alternate care or wrap things up and go home is also fine. Hanging out here with you half a day, or wandering the halls, or sent to your workstation unescorted from the front desk has to stop.
  4. Noticing People Who Look "Wrong" - You know what I'm talking about: sometimes you just see someone who looks out of place. Every employee in this building should feel empowered to say, "Can I help you?" and make eye contact with a stranger not wearing a visitors badge. If you feel uncomfortable doing that, call Facilities or HR and we'll do it for you.

I'm the first to acknowledge that our security is bass-akwards and has been for years. We should have swipe badges for access into the building. We'll make our fifth annual attempt at that with the next budget cycle, or anytime this year that we think the money might be available. Until then our security is each other and the array of security cameras operated by Scott Holloway's fine staff. Meanwhile please come see me if being asked who you are or asked to wear a visitors badge offends you. Just don't fuss on the nice ladies at the front desk.


Cory said…
Wow! Just yesterday as I was driving home from work I noticed a piece of paper tucked behind my windshield wiper. On the piece of paper, obviously ripped from a fast food bag, someone had scribbled, "I need your car. Call me asap," followed by a name and phone number. To satisfy my curiosity I called the number and got a woman's voicemail. (Not the same name that was on the paper.) A few hours later the woman from the paper called me back (I had not left a message). She told me that she worked for an auto dealer and that her and her boss had been driving around and spotted my car. (In the TN side lot, in front of the warehouse) She told me she would be willing to give me "high dollar" for my car because "she has clients that want it." (its not even a nice car...) I told her no, and eventually had to tell her that I wasn't interested and to please not call again. Still, the fact that someone was even looking at my car and close enough to look inside is a little unnerving . Lock your cars!

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