Technology
Security Check
New technologies are helping to lock down business premises, stock and assets. Steve Hart looks at some of the latest trends in business security and surveillance.
ecurity is something we all have to take far more seriously, according to a report by business services firm PwC.
It seems too many business owners have taken their eye off the security ball as they dug deep to survive the recession. While they focused on staying in business, managers have been missing threats such as data theft and leaving themselves open to old-school balaclava-clad burglars and light-fingered staff.
Security professionals spoken to for this story say owner-operators and department managers need to look for security weak spots in their business – from unsecured wireless systems and gaps in CCTV surveillance coverage to soft entry points to their premises.
While trivial, bandwidth theft can also be costly when people sit outside business premises downloading huge files such as pirated movies – racking up substantial Internet costs in the process.
Even worse, an open wireless network gives people the chance to hack into company computers to steal customer contact details and other data. Cyber crime is a genuine risk for any business.
The PwC business report on cyber security is a real eye-opener. It says that as the global economy stalls again “capabilities across security domains are degrading”.
“Security-related third-party risks are on the rise,” claim the report’s writers. “If 2008 was just the initial eye wall, there are high winds ahead – and much preparation to complete.
“And, given the growing strength of the updrafts across many dimensions of cyber crime, the reasons to do so quickly and strategically are mounting. After three years of economic volatility – and a persistent reluctance to fund the security mission – degradation in core security capabilities continues.”
KPMG’s 2010 biennial Fraud and Misconduct Survey for Australia and New Zealand reveals the total amount reported as having been lost to fraud increased from $301.1 million [2008] to $345.4 million last year.
The average loss from fraud by each organization experiencing at least one incident of fraud rose from $1.5 million in 2008 to $3 million in 2010, and the average number of frauds increased from 530 in 2008 to 813 in 2010.
More than half (53 percent) of respondents to the KPMG survey had experienced at least one incident of fraud. Eleven respondents experienced fraud losses exceeding $1 million each for the survey period. Nine of them were from the finance and insurance sector. More worringly, respondents believed that only a third of the total losses are being detected.
Stopping crime
In addition to fraud and theft of plant and equipment, vandals are also causing more than their fair share of trouble with graffiti in particular often keeping business and building owners awake at night. Not only can unsightly tagging turn customers away, it can cost a fortune to remove it.
The Onehunga Business Association in Auckland has the matter licked though. It has just spent the best part of $160,000 on a bundle of CTTV IP (Internet Protocol) wireless cameras at what’s known locally as Onehunga Mall, but is really Queen Street.
The cameras stopped crime in its tracks. So successful was the installation that neighbouring business owners have jumped on board to link their wireless cameras to the association’s network using wireless repeater stations.
The association installed its cameras after roving guards weren’t able to deter every low-life who set out to cause damage to property or break into cars and offices.
Maurice Famularo, marketing director at D-Link, the wireless modem and CCTV camera company, didn’t take part in the Onehunga solution but says the new breed of IP cameras allow users to access them from anywhere in the world with a standard web browser and an Internet connection.
“When it comes to protecting your assets and watching people, video is basically unsurpassed,” says Famularo. “It is perfect evidence that something has happened – if you record people doing something they shouldn’t, the evidence can be compelling.
“If there is a break-in or some type of problem on-site then you can log in and have a look in real time. For example, if your alarm goes off in your office, and you have a camera there, you can see in real time what’s going on.”
For managers with a suspicion that something is awry at work, wading through hours of video to catch the perpetrator can be time-consuming. Thankfully, the newer breed of digital recorders (DVRs) can place DVD-style chapter markers when anything in the picture changes, from someone walking into a shot to an object being removed from a table. And depending on the cameras used, high-quality still photos can be printed off using a single frame of video.
“Not only that, we have motion detection systems that will send an email to the system’s admin person when an event is triggered,” says Famularo. “Our system includes a URL link in the email so the recipient only needs to click that link to see the video.”
Grant Davis of D-Tek says the images produced by today’s IP cameras are “outstanding”.
“There’s no need for business or shop owners to rely on some soft, out-of-focus picture that doesn’t clearly show a person’s face,” says Davis. “Most people are moving to digital surveillance cameras now, analogue is basically done.
“What we offer are Mobotix cameras that include a Linux computer, memory and an SD storage card inside a single unit. It means there is no need for a separate recording machine and the cameras can be placed anywhere.
“These cameras don’t need to be connected to a DVR but I tend to supply them with a wireless kit as well (to enable remote recording).
“The police use these cameras a lot because they are self contained, they can be placed anywhere and installed quickly for covert operations. They are very reliable and can even be powered by a solar panel for long-term operations.”
Davis says a 360-degree camera he sells is popular for office and shop locations. One camera – placed in the middle of a room – sees everything that’s going on in one go. But it isn’t a total solution.
“You can use one camera instead of four or five,” says Davis. “But this model has its limitations – to see someone’s face the person has to be within five metres of the camera.”
DNA-based security
Even with video cameras dotted around the place, light-fingered thieves frequently get away with valuable items such as phones, cameras, tablet computers and laptops.
Although such items are often recovered by the police, tracing them back to their rightful owners can be difficult. However, there is an inexpensive solution to this – synthetic DNA that costs $85 a bottle.
David Morrissey of SelectaDNA says business is booming as he begins expansion of his firm into Australia. He launched his DNA security product in New Zealand in 2009 and is pleased with how it has reduced thefts from schools, offices and homes across the country.

 

His synthetic DNA solution can be dabbed on any item to mark it with a unique 60-digit DNA code – each code is unique to each bottle. Invisible to the naked eye, the dried solution cannot be washed away and turns bright blue when ‘read’ under a UV light.
“We give customers official stickers to let people know their premises and equipment are protected by SelectaDNA and these seem to do the trick,” says Morrissey. “Wherever our stickers appear, burglary numbers drop – the police have confirmed this.”
Because it is a liquid solution, users can mark anything of value – from plant and machinery to small items of jewellery. Every DNA kit sold is registered on a database and anything marked with the solution can be traced back to the person who bought the kit.
Banks such as the BNZ are using it too, with automatic spray units built into its branch doorways. When a robber flees the bank they get sprayed as they leave.
“Even the tiniest spot on the skin, clothes or anything else can be picked up by the UV light and will place them at the scene – there is only one way that DNA can be on them – they committed a crime,” says Morrissey.
“In the UK, every case that has gone to court where this DNA system has been used has ended with a conviction. It’s all they talk about in the prisons. Our marketing is targeted at criminals, we want them to know they won’t get away with crime if they have something that features our synthetic DNA.”
Morrissey says people who try to wash away the DNA solution won’t succeed because police only need a spot the size of a pinhead to identify its unique code.
“When police recover stolen property they check it for the DNA. In one recent case computers found at a P lab were returned to a local school as a direct result of the invisible marking,” says Morrissey.
“Police are telling us that homes, schools and offices that feature our ‘warning’ stickers are being left alone by criminals – the deterrent affect is what we want.”
Intruder alarm systems are also getting cheaper says Steve Kirk of Intek. The company supplies the security industry with all manner of security equipment, but says highly sophisticated wireless alarm systems – that don’t need any cables – can be bought for around $1000.
“The price doesn’t include installation as every location is different, but the technology is getting much cheaper now. So every business owner should consider installing even a modest system,” says Kirk.
“During the past couple of years, as the recession has bitten, I have seen how small firms are watching every dollar. The trend has been to increase security, rather than let money slip out the door.”
Secure entry systems
Of course security cameras, alarm systems and invisible markings are basically deterrents to would-be criminals. While it can be hard to counter the actions of crooked staff and visitors to your premises, using a secure entry system is something plenty of businesses use to keep unauthorized people out.
Among the firms operating in this area is Gallagher Access Systems. It designs and manufactures systems that provide electronic access control and intruder alarms management (formerly Cardax) and perimeter security (formerly PowerFence).
Michael Collins is the company’s sales manager and says Gallagher has always catered to the small to medium end of the market, providing intrusion prevention and secure access systems.
“Every business can suffer a loss from theft or burglary,” he says. “That kind of loss can close a small or medium sized business down. We have always catered to businesses that are faced with this uncertainty.
“Smaller companies want a system that is user-friendly, can help protect their assets and be monitored externally by a monitoring company.
“Additionally, smaller companies want a system that can support a few doors and be controlled electronically, something that will secure their most precious assets.”
Collins says companies concerned with protecting staff often want a system that prevents unauthorised access, has external monitoring and can control between five and 25 doors at a time. This is where Gallagher Access Systems provides a range of solutions.
Collins says his firm’s system can tell managers who is in the building (including visitors), offer protection against burglary and theft, and help provide a secure environment for staff working alone.
The issue of security is not going to go away for businesses, and with the government predicting harsh austerity measures in the coming months, there is a strong chance more people will turn to crime.
Whether it is planned or opportunistic, theft and vandalism cost businesses money. It’s time to take it seriously.
Steve Hart is a freelance journalist.
Email
steve@SteveHart.co.nz

 

 

 

 

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