Physical security audit checklist

Use our comprehensive guide to complete a physical security risk assessment of your building, office, or workplace.

How to use our security audit and risk assessment

Your security just isn’t cutting it. Don’t panic. By the time you go through our security audit checklist, you’ll have a clear understanding of the building and office security methods available—and exactly what you need—to keep your office safe from intruders, burglars and breaches. Our physical security assessment guide helps you audit your current security measures and identify what you need to secure your property using the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and advanced access control technology.

What is a physical security risk assessment?

A physical security risk assessment is a thorough inspection of all the physical security elements of your office or building, including natural and territorial components, access control systems and surveillance systems. Physical security auditing is essential to protecting any building or business. Even if you already have security systems and strategies in place, a thorough physical security assessment can uncover some unexpected gaps or shortcomings. A physical security audit will not only evaluate your technology systems for intrusion detection, it can also provide key insights into how to improve your overall building safety between the perimeter and the front door.

Even though today’s news often focuses on cybersecurity and safeguarding data, the majority of data breaches actually occur in conjunction with a physical breach. Yet many property owners only focus on a few key aspects of building security, such as video cameras or access cards. You may be surprised to learn that even the landscaping and lighting around the property can affect the physical security of the space. Performing regular physical security risk assessments is a proactive step in identifying possible vulnerabilities, and amending them before it’s too late. This physical security assessment checklist will help you evaluate your risk levels, and rectify any weaknesses in your current physical security.

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How to use natural surveillance

Natural surveillance uses landscaping and naturally occurring elements of the property to deter criminal activity by increasing visibility around your facility. People who are up to no good don’t want to be seen, so they often target properties that are dark, have trees and bushes to hide behind, and blind spots at the entrances and exits. To see if you need to update your natural surveillance for better security, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you see the street, sidewalk, and parking lots from inside your building?

  • Do you maintain your trees or bushes so they don’t block your view of important access areas?

  • Are entrance and exit points clearly visible inside the space?

  • Can you see inside the building from the street or sidewalk? 

  • Are security lights properly installed and maintained both inside and outside your property, including in your parking lots?

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, it may be time to make some adjustments. Use this natural surveillance security checklist to enhance your building security: 

  • Ensure signage doesn’t block views from windows.

  • Move interior furniture and any display items so that all entrances and exits are clearly visible.

  • Install better exterior lighting around parking lots and entrances.

  • Install interior lighting that can remain on at night and when the office is empty to deter intruders.

  • Trim trees around your property to 7’, and keep bushes at 36” or lower. 

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Using territorial reinforcement

Territorial reinforcement methods clearly distinguish your private property from public spaces using markers like fences and signage. During your security audit checklist, ask yourself the following questions about your property to determine if your territorial reinforcements are functioning to keep your facility safe:

  • Does the property have a fence or hedges around the perimeter, and it is well-maintained?

  • Are the walkways and driveways clearly marked and visible from inside the building?

  • Is the signage for the building visible from the street or sidewalk?

Use this building safety checklist to make sure your building is employing territorial reinforcement techniques that keep criminals out, control the flow of traffic around the property, and help identify possible intruders. 

  • Clearly mark your private property lines with hedges, short walls, or fences.

  • Fix any broken or damaged fences in a timely manner.

  • Use walkways, landscaping, and driveways to lead visitors to a controlled entrance.

  • Screen all people entering the space, either with a receptionist, greeter or security guard, or advanced access control method.

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Access control for premises security

One of your best defenses against security breaches is having a good access control system in place. There are many types of access control and security systems to choose from; these questions will help determine which is best for your building:

  • Are all access points monitored, either manually with a security guard or personnel, or electronically with video surveillance and detailed access reports?

  • Do all doors and windows have functioning locks?

  • Is ID based access control in place, and is it functioning?

  • How often do you have to issue or replace ID badges and keycards?

  • Is access to your building or specific areas restricted?

  • Is the surveillance system installed up to date?

  • Do you maintain a visitor record?

  • Is the current security system scalable?

Before installing a new access control system in your building, you’ll need to know if your current system needs to be updated, or if replacing it completely is a better option. In order to make the most out of your access control methods, use the following building access control security audit checklist to help guide you.

  • Install access control methods at key entry points to your building, like the lobby, elevators and parking garage entrances. 

  • Use electronic readers that can check employee IDs and keep a detailed record of every access event, allowing you to easily access and analyze data reports in real time. 

  • Install video surveillance to monitor key access points in your building, and ensure all cameras are fully functional, and that video footage can be accessed remotely if needed.

  • Keep an updated list of all employees who access the building, noting who has access to restricted areas. Using a security system that integrates with your directory can help administrators streamline this process.

  • Switch to mobile credentials, and always use encrypted credentials. Smartphone-based access offers the added security of multi-factor authentication, but encrypted keycards and fobs are also an option if you prefer them.

  • Install readers that respond to touch or movement to avoid bottlenecks in crowded hallways and lobbies.

  • Keep a detailed visitor log. A cloud-based access system can automate this process, making it easier to access your visitor log remotely, and administer guest passes without needing to lend out a physical badge or keycard.

  • Install locks on every door and window, especially those on the exterior of the building or doors that lead to rooftop access, and repair any broken locks immediately. 

  • If you plan on adding more offices or buildings to your roster, the door access control methods you have in place should be easily scalable. A cloud-based system will give you greater flexibility for future growth.

Managing Security and Access Remotely

As seen with the recent COVID-19 shutdown, many buildings and workplaces were left empty and without staff who would normally provide physical security for long stretches of time. In the new normal, you may need to make adjustments to how people access your buildings, including limiting the maximum number of people who enter your facility, creating health-screening requirements before entry permission, or quickly closing access in the event of an emergency or contamination. All of these considerations create a new stage of your security audit: remote security and entry management. 

We suggest you ask yourself and your team:

  • Do you have the ability to control your security system 100% remotely and reliably while most of your workforce is off premises? 

  • Can you quickly trace or report on who has accessed specific sections of your building or workplace?

  • How can you manage health-screening or self- checkpoints remotely?

  • How will you remotely lockdown sections or your entire workplace? Can you allow temporary or restricted access during that lockdown period?

Having reliable remote access to manage your security system is essential to maintaining the safety and security of your facility. Use the following remote security audit checklist to ensure your system meets the needs of a post-pandemic workforce:

  • Upgrade to a fully remote system that utilizes cloud-based management to ensure you have access 24/7. Choose a security system that includes features such as remote unlock, digital guest passes, and easy door schedule changes so you can respond swiftly to shifting access needs.

  • Ensure you have access to real-time reporting and audit trails, so you can easily respond to access events as they come up. This is also an essential component of your security system if you plan on implementing contact tracing in your building, so you can see who accessed specific areas at specific times. 

  • A cloud-based system that offers robust and seamless integrations will give you added flexibility to accommodate new regulations from health administrators, such as symptom self-attestations or health checkpoints. With Openpath’s open API, you can easily configure the readers to only allow a door unlock if the user has completed a specified action, like filling out an online symptom-check form or completing a thermal camera scan in the lobby.

  • Create a building crisis plan so you and your staff are prepared in the event of an emergency. With Openpath’s award-winning door lockdown feature, you can configure and trigger a lockdown plan remotely, alert your staff to the event, and allow temporary or restricted access for emergency personnel. With flexible lockdown plans available with the Premium Package, you can create an unlimited number of lockdown plans, so your facility is ready for anything.

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Why maintenance is important for security

A poorly maintained property is an invitation for criminal activity. It sends a loud and clear message that no one is paying attention, and a crime will likely go unnoticed. 

  • Is the property clear of debris and garbage? 

  • Are security lights properly installed and all lighted signs functioning? 

  • Are closets and storage spaces organized, with accurate records of stock?

  • Are high-traffic areas of the building cleaned, sanitized and disinfected on a regular basis?

Proper site maintenance not only deters vandals, burglars, and intruders, it also makes your tenants and employees feel safer. Use this on-site maintenance checklist as part of your overall building security and safety audit:  

  • Keep lawns landscaped, removing any weeds, leaves and debris. Keep lawns landscaped, removing any weeds, leaves and debris, so that they are not obscuring security devices or cameras. This will also prevent potential intruders from thinking that the space isn’t regularly monitored or occupied.

  • Maintain building exteriors, including graffiti removal and regular painting as needed.

  • Ensure all storage areas are organized, and use a log to keep track of stocks to prevent theft. Installing an access control reader can help mitigate theft risk, and allows you to track who is accessing your storage facility. 

  • Schedule regular cleaning for all high-traffic areas of the building. This is especially important in preventing the spread of viruses like COVID-19 in office buildings to keep employees healthy and safe.

  • Install hands-free unlocking and automatic door openers for a germ-free office environment. Bluetooth-enabled unlocking solutions like Openpath readers can be programmed to use motion detection to activate door opening hardware. This is an important update to make for redesigning your office workspace after the coronavirus social distancing orders are lifted.

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Evaluating your access control requirements?

We know not everyone is an expert on building security, and it can be challenging to identify all the security vulnerabilities of a property, even with a physical security checklist to guide you. That’s why the Openpath team is here to help you determine the exact access control and security features your building requires. Our experts can recommend a local professional to do a comprehensive physical security risk assessment of your property for a personalized proposal, including suggestions for access control, video surveillance, and alarm systems. We can design your new mobile access control system from the ground up, or we can upgrade your existing setup. Contact us to speak with an expert about your security infrastructure questions and access control costs.

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COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guide