There are a few simple procedures to follow that will help to protect your assets on and off-site. Assets or property could include:
- computer equipment, laptops or tablets
- mobile phones
- information stored on computers, organisers or on paper
- business vehicles
- specialist equipment and tools
Marking business assets
You should permanently mark each piece of equipment and make a note of the:
- serial number
You should also maintain a record of all business assets, where they are located and who is responsible for them. Asset checks, as well as stock checks, should be carried out by a dedicated member of staff.
Secure essential and high-value equipment in a separate secure room.
Computer equipment and mobile phones
If a computer, laptop or tablet is lost or stolen, often the loss of information and data can be more a serious issue than the cost of a replacement. This will particularly be the case if personal information is held on the computer. It could damage your reputation, affect your business' ability to operate, put individuals at risk and result in a substantial fine. Read PSNI guidance on what you can do to protect computers in your business.
A way to address this issue would be to use cloud computing. This lets you store business information and use hardware and software remotely and securely over the internet.
Protecting business data
You should carry out an assessment of the risks and take measures to keep your physical and information assets safe. Common threats include:
- cyber crime - malicious people might gain access to your systems and alter, steal or delete data - cyber security risk management
- viruses - programs that are created to cause a nuisance or damage computer systems - detect spam, malware and virus attacks
- fraud - theft of sensitive data such as employee records or valuable intellectual property by hackers or even your own employees - business data breach and theft
- data loss - caused by any of the above or by loss of hardware - eg by a flood at your premises
Small steps can help increase data security. For example, all computers should be password protected and have internet firewall and anti-virus software. Employees who use computer equipment on a regular basis should change their passwords and back up their files regularly. Any information kept on electronic equipment should be copied and kept securely off-site and in a fire-proof safe. Protect your business online.
Every individual mobile phone can be identified by a unique International Mobile Equipment Number (IMEI). The IMEI can be found by typing *#06# into the handset and should be written down and stored securely.
Protecting business vehicles and transported goods
Any vehicles you own should be treated in the same manner as the shell of your business. You should always secure the doors and windows and have a lockable box in the cargo area. You can also add extra security, such as:
- an alarm
- a vehicle tracking system
- an immobiliser
- a steering lock
For high value vehicles and machinery, such as tractors or plant machinery, you could consider marking property or fitting a tracking device. Read PSNI guidance to help prevent plant thefts.
Reflective film on the windows will help to hide the interior. You should always make sure that anything left inside is hidden from view and use signs to let people know that nothing of value is left inside. If your business receives a lot of cash over the counter, it should be removed frequently to a secure location.
Secure lorry parks should be used for overnight stops.
For goods delivered by post, it might be appropriate to use a more secure service such as recorded or special delivery.