|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  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.
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.”
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.