For many executives leading major companies, the threat of violence in the workplace is distant. They don’t think it could ever happen to them, and few want to openly discuss the threats they do receive.

Security professionals don’t have that option. They swim in a fast-moving river of threats made by strangers, activists, co-workers and the domestic partners of their colleagues. The risks they face can be as diverse as they are voluminous.

Our Mid-year Outlook 2021 State of Protective Report provides a new window into some of the most serious threats they’ve experienced. A couple of the more interesting findings include, 15% of respondents had experienced executive kidnapping threats at their company since the beginning of the year. What’s more, 18% said that they dealt with an active shooter event as a result of intelligence failure at their company. These types of threats are both alarming and horrific. There is no comfort in the fact that these are less prevalent when compared to other examples of workplace threats.

In the first few months of 2021 alone, respondents (which include 300 physical security and IT executives at some of the world’s largest companies) said they have experienced property vandalism, and supply chain disruptions. Insider abuse of cyber and physical access points, which has the potential to lead to catastrophic and violent events, and threats related to social protests and activism are happening at businesses. Threats related to co-worker violence are as prevalent as those tied to domestic violence that spills into the workplace.

Security teams face enormous pressure to keep their colleagues and customers safe, even as the volume and diversity of threats have become unmanageable.

Physical threats, those surveyed have experienced at their companies since the beginning of 2021 include:

Building and property vandalism………… 29%
Insider abusing authorized cyber and
physical access points………………………… 27%
Supply chain damage and/or disruptions 26%
Related to social protests and activism… 26%
Co-worker violence……………………………. 25%
Domestic-related violence that spills into
the workplace…………………………………… 25%
Related to extremist/racially motivated. 23%
Onsite theft/burglary………………………… 23%
Our CEO and/or family members have
received physical threats……………………. 22%
Domestic-related violence during remote
work………………………………………………… 21%
Disgruntled former employee harm to
current employee……………………………… 19%
Executive kidnapping threats……………… 15%
Active shooter………………………………….. 10%
Bomb threat…………………………………….. 6%

One-third of those surveyed say they have received or investigated at least one physical security threat per week, and one-fifth (21%) cite between two and five threats per week — and that’s just the threats they catch. More than half of respondents anticipate that they will miss somewhere between 1 to 3 out of every four incidents in the next six months.

How can security executives get control of the situation? How can these threats be more manageable?

Enterprise security teams need to fill in the intelligence gaps by breaking down silos between security functions and share information across the company. This not only means cooperation between physical and cybersecurity teams, but it also means looping in HR and legal.

One statistic from the survey stands out: Of the physical threats that resulted in harm or death at companies in 2021, 49% of respondents think most or almost all could have been avoided if cybersecurity and physical security intelligence were unified so threats could be shared and actioned by cross-functional teams.

While 2021 has opened our eyes to new threats we didn’t think were possible, or as prevalent six months ago, there is opportunity for a better approach. Aided and abetted by technology —but powered by the human mind — companies can commit to a collaborative and more holistic view to assess threats. We cannot settle for anything less.

To learn more, register for our webinar on the 2021 Mid-Year Physical Security Outlook: The Escalating Threat Landscape.

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