Businesses Experienced More Physical Security in Past Year, Need to Stay Vigilant

On Feb. 22 the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence released a sobering report — companies have experienced a wave of physical security threats during a time when they embraced hybrid work models during COVID-19. The report suggests that, in general, companies are poorly equipped to pivot to the complications raised by new threats.

The data comes from the “2022 State of Protective Intelligence Report — Heightened Threats, Business Continuity and Advancing Protective Intelligence: Perception Versus Reality in Corporate America.”

It offers a snapshot of how corporations are approaching this current era where more physical threats emerge and new ways to tackle them have to be devised.

88 percent see ‘dramatic increase in physical threat activity’

The survey, conducted from November 29 to December 21, 2021, uses data from 359 participants who are chief legal officers, chief security officers, chief compliance officers, physical security directors, general counsels, corporate attorneys, and physical security decision makers, according to a press release.

They come from companies in the United States that have more than 5,000 employees in the following industries: automative, banking and financial services, consumer goods, education, energy, government, healthcare, insurance, media and entertainment, pharmaceutical, retail, technology, telecommunications, travel and hospitality.

In the results, 88 percent of respondents said companies are experiencing a “dramatic increase in physical threat activity” compared to the beginning of 2021. Additionally, 85 percent said the “physical threat landscape” has expanded, meaning there is now an increase of potential threats that will “only grow and be unmanageable in 2022.”

The survey also asked the participants what keeps them up at night when they take into account their company’s physical security protocols and infrastructure.

About 32 percent cited “rising extremism, and social and political issues,” while 31 percent said “vaccination requirements.”

Assessing physical security threats

Separately, 88 percent said they reopened offices after the height of COVID-19 but are now running into conflicts between both management and employees when it comes to work-from-home and health protocols.

The study also shows that 84 percent of respondents said that a lack of “unified digital protective intelligence” led to “missed threats and physical harm” to employees and customers in 2021 — this was up from 71 percent just the previous year.

When it came to what physical security threats were most likely to be named by legal and compliance respondents 44 percent cited physical threats directed to C-suite and company leadership, while 41 percent pointed to data privacy and protection.

“The physical threat landscape has significantly changed and expanded, a majority of respondents agreed, which has created an exponential increase in data and pre-incident indicators that will only grow and be unmanageable in 2022,”  Fred Burton, Executive Director of the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence,” said in the release. “But when it comes to approaches to employee preparedness to address threats and workplace violence, just over half cited their company believes training employees so they are better prepared for potential workplace violence will create a culture of fear, wants to take a reactive strategy and does not see the ultimate risk to business continuity by inaction.” 

To read more data from the full report, go here.

Published by Peter Cavicchia

Peter Cavicchia is a retired U.S. Secret Service Senior Executive, now Chairman of the security consulting firm Strategic Services International LLC.

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