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How can smart and connected devices improve office security?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Totojang1977 / Shutterstock)

Over the last 10 years, technology in offices has been constantly evolving. Office staff no longer rely on fax machines and slow, low quality printers; a huge number of employees now work from two devices, use highly developed software and even the office coffee machine is a lot more savvy than it was in the early noughties.   

More recently, we’ve seen the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and, whether the notion is thought of as just a buzzword or not, the reality is that everything is becoming more and more connected. In our homes and personal lives we’re seeing the capabilities of smartphones and home technology impact our everyday lives and this is equally as true for the modern office and the office of the future.   

However, the IoT isn’t just improving the office environment and the way employees carry out their daily tasks and interact with clients, it’s also improving business security. Business owners and managers have a responsibility to ensure that both the physical working environment and sensitive files are safe and secure against trespassers and hackers and, thanks to the IoT, both network security and physical possessions can be kept protected.    

Stay alert of suspicious activity    

At a large organisation in particular, keeping track of every person who enters and leaves the office and every computer or internet based activity can be difficult, but smart technology and the IoT has the ability to keep track of this for you. Whilst using technology to monitor employee activity and behaviour can be a positive thing to ensure every aspect of a business is working as it should be, be sure to tread carefully; over-monitoring of employees could be viewed as an invasion of trust and privacy and create a negative and tense office environment. When used with the right intentions, however, smart technology can effectively reduce any opportunity for illegal or unacceptable behaviour within an organisation. Geofencing technology on smartphones - a “virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area” - will notify an office owner when a registered employee enters or leaves a certain perimeter, ensuring all staff and visitors are only accessing authorised areas of a building.   

At a smaller organisation or a recent start-up, business owners might feel slightly apprehensive about working away from the office or going out of town in case of any problems or difficulties whilst they’re away. With the use of the IoT, business owners are able to control their offices remotely and be informed via a network of devices of any suspicious activity that might occur on the property. Picture this: you’re abroad on holiday with your family and you’d feel slightly more at ease if you knew everything in the office was running smoothly in your absence. Would you prefer to phone your staff to check in, perhaps making them feel like you don’t trust them, or have a quick look on your smartphone at real time footage of your office streamed from a smart security camera? You’ll see everything's in check, and you can return to sunbathing. Simple! 

The rise of the cyber attacks 

A major flaw in the IoT is that the capacity for essentially every electrical device to be accessed via a smartphone leads to an increase in vulnerability to cyber attackers and hackers. And, if they aren’t prepared, business owners are at risk of falling victim to this. Connected smart devices aren’t secure enough on their own, therefore opening them up to hackers and spies. Business owners, no matter how large or small their companies are, need to ensure that confidential files and data in their systems are kept protected and secure. The strongest security measures need to be put in place in order to safeguard any sensitive information from a targeted attack. 

To prevent potential cyber attacks, biometric security is just one type of smart technology that can keep devices safe and secure; replacing traditional security methods such as passwords with fingerprint or facial recognition will ramp up protection extensively. Biometric data is also effective as a method of protecting an organisation from physical attacks, such as unauthorised individuals accessing a certain room or office. Implementing two factor authentication, such as requiring all employees to enter both a password and scan a fingerprint in order to access the office, will significantly reduce the chance of non-employees or trespassers entering the premises.   

With protecting a business and office comes the responsibility for all employees to take care of keys and fobs needed to enter the property. Losing office keys not only causes a lot of practical difficulties, it also raises a lot of issues with security and who the key could now be in the hands of. This will often lead to having to replace locks which, in a large organisation, can be timely and expensive. Smart locks and virtual keys take this problem away as employees are all able to access and leave a building via the use of a smartphone; business owners simply select employees that can have this virtual key and their smartphone will now be registered to access a building. If a smartphone is lost or broken the business owner can immediately remove their details from the system, eradicating the risk of the virtual key getting into the hands of the wrong person - a much more simple process than losing a physical key.   

The smart office of the future   

As smart technology becomes more advanced, the impact on business and office life can only be expected to become even more efficient. Beacon technology, that can detect which meeting rooms are in use and monitor which employees are in the office, can create a smoother running and more productive working environment and, arguably more important than that, a safer and more secure office.   

For business owners to be able to relax outside of working hours they need to feel safe in the knowledge that the office, possessions and expensive equipment they worked hard to earn is safely protected. With the IoT and smart technology we are now seeing how this is possible.     

It’s no secret that the increased use of IoT opens up risks to businesses but, when used properly and by taking the time to implement a high level of digital security standards, these risks are minimised. 

Guy Brewer, Doors Control Direct (opens in new tab) 

Image Credit: Totojang1977 / Shutterstock