Security Beyond BordersHow many safety and security decisions do I make in a day?

Leading By Example

By Francisco Mateo, CPP, CFE


As security practitioner I usually don’t stop to think about the safety and security implications in my daily life; they’re routine in nature.  So much in life seems habitual we don’t often stop to analyze the inherent patterns between them. I recently read a billboard on my way to the office that said “Security, Live with it.” Indeed security is a fundamental element in our life, and we innately learn to make these choices hundreds of times per day.

To demonstrate this unique insight, I’ll detail the security decisions I make in an average day. Obviously my professional security focus plays a big role in the decisions I make.

I’m an early riser; therefore I’m ready to go before dawn.  I follow a meticulously grooming ritual to ensure body health.  Good health is important for a busy and demanding lifestyle.  It also contributes to improving self-confidence and ensuring you stay competitive.  All these attributes impact your personal security at all levels.

My wife prepares my daily cup of coffee every morning, which ensures that I’m alert while I drive my kids to school.  Being alert is extremely important in early morning rush hour as everyone jockeys to beat the traffic lights.

Our maid helps us get the house in order.  She’s a lovely lady, but I still checked her background before she was hired.  She also received a brief induction of what information not to divulge over the phone and how to handle delivery staff to the house.  We try to cover all bases to prevent breaches and unauthorized intrusions.  I practice positive reinforcement to ensure everyone in the house complies with these measures, while avoiding that it becomes a burden.

I wouldn’t dare leave the house without taking out the trash.  This has two important security connotations.  Trash is a breeding ground for germs and pests perfect vectors for many diseases. You’re probably wondering how this is related to security, but a disease free home would keep the occupants healthy; thus keeping the doctor away and as a result guaranteeing our financial security.  The high cost of healthcare today makes me very health conscious.

Once we reach the driveway my kids and I quickly check our vehicle’s exterior to ensure there are no obstructions on tires and/or signs of tampering to prevent a possible break down once on the road.  We all board the car and fasten our seatbelts.  I re-adjust the rearview mirrors, adjust the radio and lock the doors before taking off.  The advance planning ensures that once I’m on the road I’m practicing situational awareness and driving safely.  I can use anyone of three routes to get to school and subsequently to my office.  Avoiding routines is the best way to disrupt surveillance and remain secure on the road.

Once I’m the office a gated company parking lot provides a certain level of security, but I’m still not coy about setting the anti-theft devices in my vehicle.  This is my only guarantee that someone can’t easily tamper with my vehicle. 

I keep my access control badge on a retractable lanyard to make it easy to wear and readily visible for the security officers that protect the building.  One of my responsibilities in the company is to foster security awareness, so I try to lead by example, complying with access control procedures.   I also ensure I keep my office and desk drawer handy to expedite the start of my work day.  I lock up my office every night and put away confidential documents at the end of each workday, which helps keep prying-eyes away. 

Job security is best achieved by delivering results for my employer, so I developed a project management methodology to handle a heavy workload. I also work with security metrics to track results and develop trends.  It buys me time to focus on other important activities like updating our intranet with new travel security updates and reading up on the latest news for my area of influence.  The rest of the day would be spent providing internal security consultation and drawing up security countermeasures to mitigate the myriad risks we face.

I visit multiple sites in a single day as well.  Every time I leave my office, even for a short while, I lock my computer screen, put away confidential documents and secure my office, this is another way of walking the talk. The same driving precautions apply every time I get behind the wheel. Additionally, I anticipate that I’d be conducting business through my Smartphone, so I don the hands-free Bluetooth device on my ear.  It’s a no-brainer, not only do I comply with the traffic law to avoid paying a huge fine, but I’m also better able to drive defensively if I needed to. 

All the running around makes lunch a choice time of the day.  I’m not very picky about the type of food I eat, but I’m health conscious about food.  Street food vendors are at the very bottom of my selection; this is because I try to avoid food that can get me sick or give indigestion and put me out of service for the rest of the day…maybe worse.  The operative word here is calculated risk.

I once again log off all information systems and secure my office at the end of the work day.  I normally decide to take my laptop with me in case any work needs intervention from home.  I separate my USB back-up device from my brief case and store my laptop in the trunk of the car, this way if it is stolen; it’s not a total loss.  The concept here is to become more resilient through modifying my behavior.  It makes me less brittle against growing crime trends, so I try to replicate this throughout all of my daily activities. 

Next, I pick up the kids from after-school and we debrief on how the day went.  I try to engage in conversation while being focused on the road and my surroundings.  It is now the afternoon rush hour and I need to be alert for tired and grumpy drivers, which I also suffer from sometimes.

As I approach my driveway I try to avoid tunnel vision by maintain 360º visual control of the immediate area.  I do this to avoid getting surprises, after many seminars and speaking with subject matter experts I’ve understood that human psychology makes us vulnerable to complacency when we get into our comfort zone.  Nothing comforts me more than getting home at the end of a grueling day; so I try not to let my guards down in case a clever criminal decides to exploit this vulnerability.

Once inside, in the driveway I activate the anti-theft device on the car, my house keys are ready in hand, both the kids and I are eager to be in the comfort of our home.  Once inside I ensure the latch and deadbolt lock are properly secure.  I work out every night to both stay healthy and practice my self-defense techniques, which I consider important to maintain a good security posture.  Before bed I review my alarm zones and armed the device accordingly.  Now I’m off to enjoy an excellent night’s rest.

As you can see even outside of work safety and security decisions permeate my day.  So much in my life either depends or is influenced by security, that I’m convinced I should become more aware of how to make the right choices.  Trusting I instincts is a good first start, but learning what to do during different situations would make me more resilient to both intentional and natural risks I face our daily.



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