Survey: 88 Percent of Companies are Experiencing Increase in Physical Security Threats

Survey: 88 Percent of Companies are Experiencing Increase in Physical Security Threats

As companies continue hybrid work in this third year of COVID-19, already high levels of physical threats are expected to continue to rise, significant health and safety protocol-related conflicts between management and employees are occurring, and workplace violence preparedness at businesses is primarily reactive and inconsistent. These are some of the findings unveiled today in the "2022 State of Protective Intelligence Report –– Heightened Threats, Business Continuity And Advancing Protective Intelligence: Perception Versus Reality In Corporate America," a new study commissioned by the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence.

The study showcases the collective perspectives of chief security officers, chief legal officers, chief compliance officers, general counsels, physical security directors, corporate attorneys and physical security decision-makers at U.S. companies with over 5,000 employees to examine how they see physical security challenges and opportunities unfolding in 2022, and the potential impact on business continuity.

"The physical threat landscape has significantly changed and expanded, a majority of respondents agreed, which has created an exponential increase in data and pre-incident indicators that will only grow and be unmanageable in 2022," said Fred Burton, Executive Director of the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence. "But when it comes to approaches to employee preparedness to address threats and workplace violence, just over half cited their company believes training employees so they are better prepared for potential workplace violence will create a culture of fear, wants to take a reactive strategy and does not see the ultimate risk to business continuity by inaction."

Burton continued: "Threats or harmful incidents are occurring so often, a majority agree, that employees are used to erratic and violent behavior and don't report these as warning signs until it's too late. This is why technology-based tools and consistent training are more critical than ever – thankfully we are seeing greater and greater adoption of digital intelligence."

"We are seeing a large-scale movement to transform physical security, accelerated by the pandemic, an increasing volume of threats and too many misses that jeopardize business stability," said Lukas Quanstrom, CEO of Ontic. "Almost universally, U.S. companies are actively consolidating their multiple threat intelligence, monitoring and alerting solutions into a unified system of record that enables holistic data analysis and reporting across the enterprise. This is good news for American businesses and their employees, but given the magnitude of the challenge, more needs to be done to consistently address risks to industries and shore up business continuity."

Key findings from the survey include:

88% agree, compared to the beginning of 2021, companies are experiencing a dramatic increase in physical threat activity.

85% agree the physical threat landscape has significantly changed and expanded, which has created an exponential increase in data and pre-incident indicators that will only grow and be unmanageable in 2022.

When asked what issues "keep them up at night" as they consider their company's 2022 physical security program, respondents cited increased physical threats and company backlash related to:

  • Rising extremism, social and political issues (32%)
  • Vaccination requirements (31%)

88% have reopened offices and are encountering significant conflicts between management and employees regarding health and safety protocols as well as work-from-home policies

In 2021 the lack of unified digital protective intelligence resulted in missed threats and physical harm to employees, customers and human assets for their company, 84% of respondents agreed, up from 71% in the prior year

Among 18 physical security challenges in 2022 outlined, most likely to be listed among legal and compliance leaders:

  • Physical security threats to C-suite and company leadership (44%)
  • Data protection and privacy (41%)

After employees were threatened or harmed by former employees or others while working remotely or at company facilities, respondents:

  • Notified HR, legal and security (43%)
  • Notified the local police and requested enhanced patrol coverages (40%)
  • Enhanced company security coverages for the employee both in the office and at their home (39%)
  • Enhanced intelligence collection around the threat (36%)

A total of 359 respondents completed the survey, which was conducted November 29 - December 21, 2021. These included chief security officers, chief legal officers, chief compliance officers, general counsels, physical security directors, corporate attorneys and physical security decision-makers at U.S. companies with over 5,000 employees in the automotive, banking and financial services, consumer goods, education, energy, government, healthcare, insurance, media and entertainment, pharmaceutical, retail, technology, telecommunications, travel and hospitality industries. Download the full 2022 report here.

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