How many times have you turned on the TV or went online, only to hear of an individual impersonating someone else? In December 2017, the New York Post reported on a woman who walked into a major retail store, dressed as an employee, and then exited the store with more than $40,000 worth of iPhones. Law enforcement is still trying to identify her, but the most shocking detail about this story is the woman was never questioned or stopped.
While the story above concerns criminal behavior, the impersonation of employees poses a real security risk to companies. For example, a person pretending to be a flight crewmember, maintenance worker or administrator could access secure areas, obtain proprietary data and even commit a violent act. This is why it is essential for companies to implement some sort of credentialing system for their employees, if they haven’t already.
In its 2017 “Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports and Users,” the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), states that airports may want to look at card identification systems for their employees. These systems (you may call them ID cards, badges or credentials) often contain important information such as the following:
- The employer’s name (or a company logo)
- An expiration date for the card
- A full-faced image of the person the card is assigned to
- A unique identification number
- The employee’s full name
Identification cards with the basic information listed above help businesses maintain the presence of security within their operations and can act as a deterrent to outsiders. More sophisticated identification cards incorporate features like holographic images, real-time verification, and the ability to scan or integrate with proximity systems. Undoubtedly, credentials that utilize additional security features are going to be harder to replicate and tamper with, but a professionally-made ID card with basic information is still beneficial. These benefits include the following:
- Informs would-be impostors that there is a security plan in place
- The badge photo can be quickly compared to the person holding the badge
- Establishes restrictions for people with lower security clearance or access
- Employees are able to identify each other quickly
Despite the size and type of operation, impostors do their homework. Impostors study the workings of the business they are targeting, they come in looking like they belong by wearing the same clothing as other employees, and they act as if they know what they are doing. Let’s face it, there is no sure-fire way to prevent security breaches. Mitigate the possibility of a breach by implementing a company-specific identification system and enforce compliance. Having a method in place to easily identify employees (and non-employees) benefits everyone.