As the United States wages war on terrorism, the CEO of a business securty firm issued a number of recommended steps American businesses should take to safeguard their employees.
"The attacks last week confirm the harsh reality that Americans and American facilities have become targets all over the world," said Neil Livingstone, chairman and CEO of Washington-based GlobalOptions. "As the United States plans and mounts a war against terrorists, American businesses have only a
limited window for assessing and dealing with their new and increased risks. "American businesses must face the probability of an escalating cycle of attack and retaliation -- and must move quickly to minimize the effects on their own business and the American economy."
Livingstone, an internationally known expert on counter-terrorism, said the greatest security threats are to U.S. interests in a wide arc of countries stretching Western Africa across the Middle East and to Indonesia, followed by the probability of attacks on Americans and American facilities in Europe and Asia.
"In the United States, we should expect and protect against the kinds of threats that Israel has suffered for many years," he said. "We need to make everyone aware of the increased risk of secret terrorist cells and suicide bombers, particularly in public places where large groups of people congregate, such as malls and transportation facilities."
As a result, Livingstone said GlobalOptions is advising companies to:
- Conduct an immediate assessment of security threats and preparedness.
- Review all travel policies and priorities -- determine if alternatives, such as teleconferencing, can substitute for business travel, particularly to higher-risk countries.
- Review all business continuity issues -- disaster recovery, backup systems.
- Review all crisis management programs. Are they current? If none exist, the company should create one promptly.
- Review or implement disaster contingency plans.
- Establish an emergency command center (many companies set up Y2K command centers that may be reactivated).
- Pay particular attention to providing employee assistance -- employees are a company''s most valuable resource.
- Determine whether governments in foreign countries will support an American company''s security efforts; if not, reassess risk of remaining in that country.
- Implement a threat response -- ranging from increased security to relocation to a complete shutdown.
- Implement a thorough employee communications plan -- spelling out realistic assessments of risk offering realistic plans for coping.
by Virginia Foran