During this time of year, social functions, holiday parties, well-hyped sales, travel and worship services fill our calendars and our focus.  The duality of the season is that it offers both a distraction from the current threat environment as well as a timely opportunity for those who may wish to do harm.  To maximize the former and mitigate the latter, security professionals and those who support them must focus on four critical action steps

1. Promote security awareness

Many corporations’ security risk management programs promote some variation of a “See Something, Say Something” campaign.  This is a good time to reinforce that message and to ensure the prevalence of threat reporting channels. While employees and patrons busy themselves with holiday happenings, they often make the quiet assumption that initiatives and protocols are in place to ensure their safety.  As a security professional, you have to cut through holiday distractions.  Reiterating critical policies that guide incident response for evacuation, active assailant or suspicious mail are critical even during the happiest of holiday seasons.

2. Ensure security readiness

There are several ways to ensure security risk management programs are prepared for the sometimes unique risks that surface during the busy holiday season.  These include the following.

  • Review emergency response and business continuity with strong emphasis placed on medium and high-risk vulnerabilities.
  • Verify communication structures with local first responders and mass notification platforms.
  • Preemptively augment and vary security patrol.
  • Use scenario-based drills or exercises to underscore staff preparedness or point to any critical gaps.
  • If you have not already, consult industry or business sector best practices.  They should be adopted and adapted where feasible.
  • Test protective measures used to secure facility infrastructure and systems.
  • Because an uptick in seasonal activity has a correlational increase in social media activity, be proactive in monitoring social media.

3. Heighten security visibility

Employees and patrons enjoy the holiday season with the assurance that security measures are in place to protect them.  That assurance is dependent on the visibility of your security risk management tactics.  That may mean the deployment of additional security personnel or increased security communication.  These efforts have the valuable return of not only instilling confidence in those you protect but also deterring the actions of bad actors.  Furthermore, greater visibility of security’s protective efforts enhances the aforementioned focus on awareness and readiness.

4. Remain security-focused

While seasons noted on a calendar may have distinct beginnings and endings, the threat exposure season does not.  As new threats emerge and other threats re-assert themselves, each of the steps above must continue to be assessed, adjusted and maintained year-round.  Challenges to our collective safety may populate each season but vigilance and readiness can never take a holiday.