A risk assessment can take many forms, from a simple “walk-around” to a comprehensive full blown assessment with multi-page report. Additionally, the performance of the assessment itself is a deterrent to criminal activity; when performed, it sends a clear message to employees, management and shareholders that your organization cares about its protection and is willing to expend resources to protect its assets.
A risk assessment:
A risk assessment should not be a single, one-time only event.
Criminals and terrorists perform many of the same activities that established companies perform: they determine resources to be used, inspect their target, test and evaluate their procedures, conduct dry runs, learn from their mistakes and plan for contingencies. But they do these things in order to steal your valuables or cause harm. Most importantly, though, criminals and terrorists get smarter in order to foil countermeasures that are put in place.
To thwart them, organizations must constantly improve their methods and stay one step ahead of the criminal's thought process. An annual security survey helps take advantage of the latest in hardware and software technology, and allow the organization to keep current with the newest techniques to foil the bad guys and protect your assets.
Why perform a risk assessment?
We live in a world of elevated stress, anxiety about our personal and organizational safety, and a heightened apprehension of terrorism. A risk assessment will address these concerns and identify those areas that need attention.
Additionally, there may be changes to your business that require a "fresh look" at policies, procedures and structures. These changes could include:
Another reason for an assessment is that there may be a government or industry-specific requirement (such as the chemical industry or water treatment plant industry) that states a survey is compulsory.
A risk assessment may also uncover that your employees are unknowingly performing unsafe practices and increasing the risk to your facility, such as propping doors open for a cigarette break or allowing unauthorized visitors into a secure area.
And lastly, you may need a risk assessment because an incident has already occurred, and you wish to prevent another occurrence.
Who should perform your risk assessment?
There are two schools of thought on this topic: the survey can be performed by in-house security personnel, or by external consultants. In general, the vast majority of security professionals agree that to receive the most effective and comprehensive risk assessment, an external party should conduct it. See below for the rationale:
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