Worse yet, security threats have branched out beyond physical threats. According to the Federal Trade Commission, threats have now branched into various types that can compromise not only the safety of individuals but also data and other sensitive assets.

All these facts paint a picture of how important security is. As a security provider, you will be the first line of defense against various threats. Through the services you offer clients, you will be responsible for minimizing risks and planning for contingencies.

Common Risks with Physical Security

Every action plan begins with awareness. In your case, what you must know commonly encountered physical security risks.

By being familiar with the most common types of physical security threats, you’ll know what to prepare for. As a result, you can develop a list of contingencies to prepare your security staff for.

Below are seven of the most common security threats you are likely to encounter.

Situational Risk

During deployment, your security staff may be in situations that are inherently dangerous to the clients they’re protecting. We categorize risky and potentially life-threatening situations as situational risks.

Situational risks encompass a wide variety of threats ranging from hazardous environments to situations that expose your security team and their clients. For this reason, situational risks are one of the most difficult contingencies to prepare for due to the forms that they take.

Document Theft

Documents may contain sensitive data, becoming attractive to thieves who wish to exploit a business or individual. Document theft becomes a risk, especially for businesses that carry out financial transactions or service the public sector.

To guard against document theft, your team must be familiar with the client’s assets and where they are located. Your team must also secure the location of these documents and restrict access.

Unaccounted Visitors

Unaccounted visitors can threaten the security of a business or individual. For this reason, security personnel must keep a logbook of visitors and be aware of who can enter the client’s facility or place of business.

Knowing every person who enters the premises isn’t just crucial to the client’s physical and data security; it can also protect you from lawsuits due to negligence.

Event Risks

Event risks are like situational risks. The only difference is that with event risks, you are not protecting one client but everyone who is at the event. This is what makes the mitigation of event risks challenging.

Security teams deployed at events like conferences and concerts must be on the lookout for suspicious individuals. Most of the time, security staff must spot threats within the crowd.


Tailing is a risk involving unauthorized people entering secured areas behind those with appropriate access. This can pertain to gated areas and vehicle tailing, as well as tailing through gates on-foot. Requiring keycard access, maintaining perimeter security, and taking account of all access points at all times can help prevent tailing.

Stolen Information

Stolen information becomes a risk when it enables perpetrators to gain access to a household or facility. Also, information in the wrong hands can compromise a client’s access to assets like money or other resources.

Social Engineering

Social engineering means many things, but in the context of physical threats, it’s the way that intruders gain access to a facility or individual through manipulation.

Through tactics like bribing on-duty security staff and posing as employees, intruders can enter a facility, posing a threat to a business or individual.

Social engineering prevention requires an eye for suspicious activity and intruders. For this reason, we will show you how to identify social engineering threats and how to neutralize such threats when they occur.

Categorizing Risks

Earlier, we shared the most common threats your security team can encounter during deployment. After becoming aware of these risks, you can now categorize them into internal and external risks.

Classifying internal and external risks will go a long way in helping you identify what’s within your reasonable care and what isn’t. As a result, you bring yourself a step closer to efficiently allocating security staff and resources and avoiding lawsuits arising from accusations of negligence.


Internal risks are factors or conditions that compromise how you render your security services to clients. Right away, your internal risk factors will be the following:

  • Your teams
  • Your policies
  • Your lack of preparedness

Addressing internal risks must come first because these risks are within your control. You can minimize internal risk exposure through your hiring practices and onboarding procedures.

When it comes to hiring a physical security guard, the more selective you are, the better. Also, part of your onboarding process must be training and education on your company’s policies and standard operating procedures.


External risk factors are not in your immediate locus of control. These are the threats you must protect your clients from, and they often take the following forms:

  • Natural disasters
  • Social conflict
  • Pandemic
  • Global economic shift

Mitigating external risks requires scenario-specific planning and preparation.

Minimizing Your Risk Exposure

Now that you’ve categorized your risks, it’s time to develop your action plan for minimizing your risk exposure. Planning for risk mitigation can only be successful if you take the right steps. While every security contractor will differ, the following steps are be crucial.

Identify Your Assets

How many trained security personnel do you have? Can you equip all the members of your security team? How many people on your team have been with your company for more than a year?

Answer these questions, and you will be identifying the assets you have at your disposal. Besides equipment and trained personnel, take stock of vehicles or holding facilities if applicable.

Identify Threats

Before and during deployment, you and your team must identify actual and potential threats. The most common physical security risks we’ve discussed earlier will help you develop a list of emergent situations to prepare for.

Identify Vulnerabilities

This is where your risk categorization comes in. By looking at internal and external risks, you will determine where your weaknesses are and address them for the next deployment.

Develop Risk Profiles

There’s always more than one physical threat in any situation. However, you shouldn’t try to treat them as though they’ll happen all at once. When you try to address multiple risks simultaneously, your staff may either be overwhelmed or confused.

Therefore, it’s crucial to develop a risk profile. A risk profile allows you to prioritize different threats based on propensity. Those with the highest risk profiles or propensities are the ones that will take priority.

Determine Risk Treatments

With your risks ranked by likelihood, you can now identify which ones require most of your assets. The physical threats that have the highest risk profiles will require most of your resources and attention.

Develop an Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan details what to do during contingencies. More specifically, you must outline your assets, threat profiles, and members of personnel with their responsibilities.

Train Your Personnel

With your plan outlined, you must train your staff to handle the threats you’ve identified and profiled. Training must be specific to their responsibilities, the client, and potential threats.

Monitor for Live Threats

Upon deployment, your staff must be on constant watch for threats. Other security staff should also monitor the situation from afar to provide an added layer of surveillance.

Set up Defense in Depth

Staff must concentrate defenses as close as they can to the client. In the case of events, staff must remain present at various points to be able to handle event risks.

Use Deterrents

You may not be able to address every threat or assailant. However, you can delay threats or intruders from gaining access to the business or client you’re protecting through deterrence.

Deterrence can be in the form of strict security checks. You can also increase the visibility of your staff to discourage intruders or assailants from targeting your client or the business under your protection.


Your physical security staff is your client’s line of defense against physical security risks. To protect your client and your staff, you must anticipate problems and develop contingencies to reduce risk exposure.

The tips we’ve laid out here will go a long way in guiding you toward an actionable risk mitigation plan. However, if you wish to learn more about reducing risks and liabilities, check out our on-demand webinar, Mitigating Risk Exposure.