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Nearly a year ago, our world changed. Few of us knew much, if anything, about the COVID-19 virus that would soon transform our social interactions, our economy and our lives. But we soon got a crash course in epidemiology and terms such as ‘social distancing’ as the federal and provincial governments acted quickly to lockdown our communities and introduce sweeping health and safety measures. Through it all, Wincon Security guards and supervisors were on the coronavirus pandemic frontlines.

Our employees responded with professionalism, hard work and a dedication to excellence that was beyond exceptional—it was a true embodiment of our focus on providing the very best customer service experience our industry has to offer. To a person, our team exemplified our ‘Built on Service. Driven by Culture’ company mantra. My gratitude goes out to all of our employees for their ongoing support and efforts to continue improving our client experience. But in the midst of a tumultuous year, the work of two of our staff truly stood out.

I’m pleased to introduce our 2020 employees of the year: Supervisor Darrell Chen and security guard Robert Bruce.

You may notice a change from previous years when we acknowledged only one employee. This year we decided that it was important to ensure that a member of our leadership team also got the nod for their outstanding work.

In Darrell’s case, his management of a seven-person security team throughout the pandemic at GE’s Markham facility was nothing short of remarkable. Not that we’d expect anything different. Over his four-year career with Wincon, Darrell’s communication skills, leadership and problem-solving abilities have set the standard for others to follow. COVID may have put Darrell to the test, but he stepped up and responded to every challenge.

Wincon Darrell Chen 1

“Over the past year, we had to find different ways to provide safety and security,” he says. “We had to train additional guards, work with the EHS and occupational safety committees at GE, reinforce masking policies and work to develop methods to efficiently screen employees and delivery people every day. Our team is always great at communication and has a positive attitude, so by being proactive and planning for different workplace situations, we were able to make a tough situation as seamless as possible for our client.”

By keeping up the spirits of his team and showing appreciation for their work, Darrell reminded us all that it’s possible to turn a challenging situation into one for growth and development.

Wincon Robert Bruce 1

Our 2020 Guard of the Year Robert Bruce showed the same willingness to step up and adapt, but in a very different setting over the past year. As a guard at some of Etobicoke’s larger condominium towers, Robert had a front-row seat as the move to remote work took centre stage during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown. Suddenly, thousands of residents were working—and both caring for and teaching their children—from home. Access to everything from building amenities to the neighbourhood grocery store was instantly restricted.

Even as tensions ran high, Robert met residents with his trademark smile and pleasant demeanour and was able to make their day a little bit brighter simply by doing his job well. Efficiency was key.

“At a certain point we had to start screening people for COVID-19 when they entered the building, but due to the volume of residents coming in and out—not to mention parcel or food delivery people and visitors—we needed to process people as quickly as we could,” Robert recalls. “Adjusting to that was a challenge.”

Wincon Robert Bruce 2

That meant going to extraordinary lengths such as conducting temperature checks and even calling residents to pick up food deliveries in the lobby as part of the condo’s coronavirus protocols. Through it all, Robert’s ability to anticipate both the condo property manager and residents’ needs, and to address potential issues before they arose, proved the difference.

On behalf of the entire leadership team here at Wincon, I’d like to congratulate Darrell and Robert for this achievement and thank them for their exemplary work. And while I’ve said it before, it’s worth reiterating that our entire team has gone above and beyond throughout the COVID-19 crisis. If I had to choose a word to sum up my feelings about our performance as a company, it would be: proud.

Proud that we’ve confronted one of the most difficult challenges of our generation and managed to succeed. Proud that we’ve actually improved our service offering in the face of some very big obstacles. And proud that our clients and industry partners were able to rely on us to meet their needs, no matter the circumstances.

As we progress further into 2021, I only have one more thing to add: Let’s keep up the great work together!

IS YOUR BUSINESS INTERESTED IN SECURITY GUARD SERVICES?

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Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security

It goes without saying that 2020 is a year that many of us will be glad to forget, just as we look forward to a socially distanced and happy holiday with loved ones. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has challenged everyone from individual Canadians and healthcare professionals to business owners and bureaucrats in ways that we couldn’t have imagined as recently as early March. But the many struggles of the COVID-19 crisis have also reaffirmed our strength and resilience as a country. In the face of adversity, we adapted and managed, even as we continue to mourn the many lives lost and the scores of businesses brought down by the ensuing economic disruption.

The security industry has not been immune to the pandemic’s harsh economic impact. Companies large and small have reeled as affected sectors such as hospitality, travel and retail were forced into shutdown mode or were suddenly required to scale back business in ways that immediately lessened the need for security coverage. But I’m proud to say that through it all, Wincon Security has managed to not only navigate these stormy waters, but thrive.

The reason, of course, is because we’ve built incredible partnerships with our many clients. Their loyalty and support has been pivotal to Wincon’s success for more than 26 years, and in hard times, they’ve remained by our side. We’re grateful for the opportunity to protect their people, property and assets, and we can’t wait to see how we can find new ways to meet their security needs in the years ahead. The push to constantly improve is a core value, one that we embrace and also consider a responsibility that we simply won’t take for granted—it will continue to drive us to deliver even better service to our customers long after this pandemic has passed.

Case in point: We made significant investments to upgrade our technology infrastructure this year, while also working to enhance our employee training and development programs. We believe that delivering effective security solutions is about far more than doing the basics. In most cases, our security personnel are not only frontline representatives of Wincon Security, but also of our clients’ brands—be they retailers, commercial property managers, or any company in between. Their work on-site can significantly impact that brand experience, which is why we constantly strive for new ways to enhance our team’s customer service skills with real-world, situational training.

Of course, helping our customers succeed means staying at the forefront of new technology reshaping our industry. We’ve continued to research the latest in security software and hardware from facial-recognition cameras to advanced biometric systems that could have applications across both commercial and residential properties. That work is ongoing as we enhance our organizational commitment to research and development, which includes enhancing our own back-end technology infrastructure—a critical investment that enabled much of our administrative staff to work remotely during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, none of our success would be possible were it not for the tireless dedication, professionalism and hard work of our team members. At the pandemic’s peak, they put themselves in higher-risk public settings to ensure that our clients’ properties and people were kept safe and secure. They neither complained nor refused the challenge. Instead, they made it to work each and every day with an attitude that exemplified the very best that Wincon Security has to offer.

To better protect them, we recently implemented a new Whistleblower Program that provides a mechanism to report everything from sexual harassment to any form of unwelcome behaviour experienced while on the job. We’re committed to providing a safe, welcoming and fruitful workplace experience—and we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that our company culture isn’t negatively impacted by unacceptable behaviour. Our whistleblower directive to employees is simple: If you see something, say something.

So, as we look back on 2020 and raise a glass with the promise of a better 2021 ahead, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you and your family a happy holiday and a healthy New Year. While rising COVID-19 case counts remind us that difficult months still lie ahead, vaccines give us hope that a return to normal is on the horizon. This year proved that we can make it to the finish line—safely, securely, together.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

When we adopted our new company motto last year, we wanted to highlight the value we place not only on providing the very best service to our customers, but also the workplace experience that we offer to our employees.

In that sense, Built on service. Driven by culture is far more than a tagline. It’s a philosophy that guides all of our decisions here at Wincon Security. By hiring the very best people and building an inclusive and diverse workforce that’s encouraged to innovate and raise their voices when things are going right—and in those rare instances when they may be going wrong—we’ve managed to build a positive and highly engaged workplace culture. It’s one that we work hard each day to protect and improve.

But every company has its challenges, and we’re not immune to ours, either. As we’ve grown, not all of our hires have been the right fit. Some haven’t lived up to the core values that we simply refuse to compromise as an organization. That’s why we’ve had to make tough decisions at times, parting ways with individuals who didn’t always live up to those standards, or who failed to treat our employees with the respect and appreciation they deserve.

We’re prepared to take steps to ensure that our staff feel comfortable and safe on the job, all so they can achieve their full workplace potential in a dynamic, fun and supportive environment.

On that note, we’re pleased to announce the launch of the Wincon Whistleblower Program. The initiative is intended to provide employees with an outlet to express concerns or report specific incidents of harassment, abuse or mistreatment while on the job. Staff can email us using the address [email protected] to voice their concerns.

Our message to employees is best summed up with a play on an old adage: if you see (or experience) something you shouldn’t, say something. We’re about ensuring fairness, ethical and moral behaviour in our work environment, and if any lines have been crossed, we want to know. Emails to the account will be handled anonymously, so staff needn’t feel intimidated to come forward. It’s important to note that we’re committed to addressing employee concerns in a timely way. Allegations will be investigated and matters will be escalated through the appropriate channels, as necessary. To ensure transparency and accountability, the findings of any workplace investigation will be reported to all parties involved in the matter.

Because the vast majority of our employees work at client sites most of the time, the Whistleblower Program is designed to provide an outlet to highlight negative or unwelcome interactions they may have with any of the stakeholders they encounter during the course of their work day—including clients, colleagues, third-party contractors or other suppliers.

If, for any reason, staff don’t want to approach their supervisor with serious issues, the Whistleblower Program is their outlet to voice concerns. It’s not intended to be used as a tool to raise questions or concerns about day-to-day operational issues such as scheduling. Those matters should still be discussed and addressed with the employee’s direct supervisor.

Importantly, we believe our whistleblower initiative will not only set the conditions to create an even safer workplace environment here at Wincon, but we also believe it will enhance our service offering and create a far better experience for our customers. The happier, more engaged and satisfied our employees can be in their work, the better they’ll perform. I think we can all agree that this exciting new program also enhances our business by ensuring that our values are not only upheld, but that they continue to be aligned with those of our clients.

Because nothing is more important to us as a company than protecting people, property and assets, while also defending our company culture. It’s a responsibility that we take seriously and actively embrace.

Winston Stewart

President and CEO

The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced a key feature of our company culture that we’ve long understood, but which became even more obvious in the face of an unprecedented and highly challenging situation: Wincon Security is driven in every way by an outstanding group of professionals. Our people are dedicated to customer service excellence and it shows in everything they do.

As I noted in our last blog , throughout the COVID-19 crisis our employees have gone above and beyond to not only do their jobs, but to take added steps to ensure the health and safety of both our clients and their colleagues in the field. We’ve witnessed countless examples of our employees going out of their way to help Wincon Security customers create a welcoming environment across their workplaces, retail outlets, manufacturing facilities—wherever they happen to be serving. After all, we believe it’s our job to not only protect people, property and assets, but to do so in a way that reflects positively on our clients’ brands. Whether that’s in a supermarket or a super-tall condominium complex, we take that responsibility to heart.

That’s why we were delighted to receive extremely positive customer service feedback about Karen Willis, one of our fantastic security professionals. Karen exemplifies the very best qualities that our team has to offer: dedication, professionalism, excellence in her work and a selfless commitment to putting a smile on the faces of the people we serve.

In this case, the client is a Markham-based property management company with an extensive portfolio of commercial buildings across the city. Karen leads the security team at one of the client’s flagship office complexes—which has been operating at a drastically reduced capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s worth noting that while the province-wide focus has rightly been on mitigating the public health impact of the coronavirus pandemic, an often overlooked consequence of social distancing and stay-at-home measures is the risk to unoccupied properties. An unstaffed building is a vandal or burglar’s dream target. In other words, unoccupied properties are more vulnerable now than ever.

As our site supervisor, Karen has been responsible for coordinating security coverage for the office facility, while managing our on-site team. She was also tasked with liaising directly with the property management firm’s leadership team, keeping them abreast of potential issues or emerging security vulnerabilities as their workforce maintained operations from a distance, and then after they began returning to the workplace. As the client noted in a letter of appreciation for Karen’s work:

“[Karen] was awesome and caring to our essential workers who came to work to every day. She went above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of our team members and I am personally grateful for this.

Many times clients only informed vendors when they are not satisfied with the service they are receiving.  Rarely do they make mention when things are above and beyond, so I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the excellent service we are receiving.”

Feedback such as this not only makes us extremely proud of team members like Karen, but reminds us of the importance of our work—especially during one of the most difficult periods in recent memory.

We believe that security professionals should not only fulfill their duties, but do so with a high degree of energy and engagement. With anxieties on the rise and people genuinely afraid to enter their workplaces or residences, if their first encounter is with a warm and caring security team member who can brighten their day while ensuring their safety and protection, then we believe we’ve achieved our goal as a security company.

So, on that note, we extend our gratitude to Karen Willis for her outstanding work and dedication to customer service. Now, with COVID-19 cases flaring across the Greater Toronto Area once again, we still have a great deal of work to do. I’m very confident that together—especially with employees such as Karen leading the charge—we can navigate any challenge we face and succeed as we adapt to this fast-changing business environment.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

When the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in March, it was difficult to imagine the size and scope of the challenge that lay ahead. Industries ground to a halt as social-distancing measures forced the closure of everything from offices to recreational facilities. Businesses and their employees faced unprecedented uncertainty. Security firms such as ours weren’t spared from the widespread economic impact.

While some clients needed less of our time, many sectors called on us to do more—much more—to help them weather the coronavirus storm. Business leaders quickly realized the degree to which they needed trained security professionals to help them manage everything from store line-ups to protecting shuttered office buildings. Perhaps most importantly, those that needed additional help from Wincon Security came to understand that we could not only protect their people, property and assets, but we were also well-positioned to become an extension of their brand. Because our people are well-trained and committed to providing industry-leading service, they could rely on us to positively reflect their company values and uphold their service standards.

Specifically, they could rely on you—our employees—to make the very best of a very challenging COVID-19 situation.

By no means are we out of COVID-19 crisis mode as a second wave of the outbreak looms large. We’re likely to face more difficulties in the weeks and months ahead before we can put this pandemic behind us. But I know that because of your dedication and commitment to excellence, our company will emerge from this stronger than ever. The past six months have only proved what I already knew about each and every one of you: You care. You’re passionate about servicing our clients. You want to make your communities better by helping to make them safer. You want to help our company grow and achieve even greater success together.

Through it all, you not only showed up for work every day, but you demonstrated unbelievable engagement and professionalism. Our competitors faced widespread labour shortages, but all of you ensured that we were able to meet client demand for our services. And you did it with a smile from behind our Wincon-branded face masks. At times that meant exposing yourselves to the general public to do your jobs. But you did it without complaining because that’s what was needed.

As a business owner, I couldn’t be more proud of your hard work and commitment to becoming better at your jobs every day. You’ve proven once again that Wincon is a partner to our clients—be they on the commercial property, retail, condominium or residential sides.

Along the way we’ve taken efforts to ensure your safety in the workplace, whether it’s in the office or at client sites. That’s meant investing in personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizers, increased cleaning of everything from our headquarters to patrol vehicles and even purchasing those aforementioned reusable Wincon masks. Rest assured, we’ll continue making the necessary investments to keep you safe and healthy on the job. Nothing is more important to us than your well-being, as well as that of our customers and partners. We hope the new workplace normal—however it continues to evolve—alleviates the need for such stringent health and safety measures, but that day could still be a long way off.

In the meantime, our strategy is focused on finding innovative ways to service our clients as the COVID-19 pandemic carries on. Many of you have shared ideas to help us find new efficiencies and service-delivery methods as we’ve worked to achieve that goal. We invite you to continue making suggestions and thinking about ways to make Wincon an even better security provider.

As a company built on service and driven by culture, we have the tools we need to make it through this pandemic. Let’s continue working together to achieve our goals and prove once again that there is no emergency situation that our team can’t handle.

Winston Stewart

President and CEO

The current emergency situation has evolved rapidly in Canada and around the world with the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic and ever-escalating measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Our team has been closely monitoring these developments and has enacted Wincon Security’s emergency preparedness and disaster response plan accordingly. Our focus at this point is ensuring the health safety of our clients, the occupants of the retail, industrial, educational and residential facilities we protect and, of course, our employees.

These are extraordinary circumstances and we’re responding with workplace policy and procedure updates in real-time. We’re in the people business and are fully prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead. This pandemic is testing the resolve of individuals and organizations across our economy with the introduction of everything from social distancing measures to outright closures. To do our part, we’re monitoring and implementing the advice of local, provincial and federal health agencies and ensuring we go a step above and beyond to protect the people at the heart of Wincon Security.

Our focus is on helping you navigate the hurdles that lie ahead.

With that in mind, we’ve implemented the following policy changes effective immediately. We are:

  • Permitting administrative staff to work remotely or from home where possible
  • Enhancing hygiene procedures across our workplace and at client sites
  • Adjusting resourcing at some facilities and shifting our guards to sites where a physical presence is required, or utilizing technology such as advanced camera systems to monitor facilities where a physical presence may no longer be necessary (e.g., office buildings whose tenants are temporarily working from home)
  • Cancelling all in-person client meetings for the time being and stopping all non-essential business travel
  • Conducting client meetings using teleconferencing platforms until further notice

As first responders entrusted with protecting the people and assets across your commercial or residential properties, we take great pride in providing high-quality customer service, no matter the situation. This one is turning out to be one of the most challenging that we’ve experienced in our organization’s 25 years of operation.

Our focus is on helping you navigate the hurdles that lie ahead in as efficient and seamless a way as possible. We’ll be providing insights in the days and weeks ahead to help you manage and implement everything from data security procedures for employees forced to work from home, to tactics designed to help ensure social distancing and to restrict access to your facilities until the pandemic wanes and life can return to normal.

We believe the key to success at this point is to remain calm and educate employees, tenants and other stakeholders of their role in maintaining health and safety across your properties. This is likely going to be a protracted event that will cause considerable disruption in the coming months. Count on Wincon to be there with you every step of the way.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SECURITY SERVICES?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

The latest cybersecurity survey by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) sheds light on the ongoing challenges that organizations of all sizes across industries face in protecting their data and networks from hackers.

According to the report, 71 percent of Canadian organizations surveyed were the victim of some form of cyberattack in 2018. Nearly all of the respondents said that while “cybersecurity awareness training was at least somewhat effective in reducing incidents, only 22 percent conducted the training monthly or better.” Fewer than half (41 per cent) have actually mandated that training across their organizations.

Direct costs incurred in addressing these cyberattacks, as well as a negative impact on the victim’s brand, were the most damaging aspects of the incidents for affected organizations. Importantly, an earlier CIRA survey found that only 19 per cent of Canadians “… would continue to do business with an organization if their personal data were exposed in a cyberattack.” Only 48 per cent of organizations that had their data breached even reported the incident to their clients. A meagre 21 per cent made their board of directors aware that such a breach had occurred.

What’s changing is how hackers are targeting organizations.

Meagre investments in cybersecurity

Perhaps most worrisome, a lack of resources was one of the main reasons why 43 per cent of respondents didn’t have specific systems, processes and talent dedicated to addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities across their organization.

As the report notes:

“Canadian banks, schools, governments and businesses are still being taken down by cyberattacks, exposing customer data, paying ransoms to hackers, and losing valuable time recovering from breaches.

According to the annual Accenture Cost of Cybercrime survey, the average cost of investigating and remediating an attack among Canadian organizations last year was $9.25 million.”

A series of costly ransomware attacks targeting Ontario municipalities over the past year—not to mention companies ranging from SMEs to enterprise—underscore cybercriminals’ growing sophistication. But not in ways you may expect. The reality is the nefarious software used to extort unwitting communities and businesses is becoming more commoditized by the day. Even a novice hacker with access to the dark web can get their hands on ransomware relatively cheaply and quickly.

hackers and cyber security
They customize their approach to data theft so we much customize our approach to data security.

Hackers are becoming more sophisticated

What’s changing is how hackers are targeting organizations. Increasingly that means tricking everyone from managers to employees to open suspect attachments or visit dubious websites. From there, cybercriminals can plant malware in a computer (and/or network) and wait to pounce. That process can take several months, during which time the hacker will collect information, observe behavioural patterns and then develop an attack strategy that will likely involve some form of data theft or financial extortion.

As the CIRA survey notes, more organizations than ever are taking cybersecurity training seriously. Many are mandating courses for employees and introducing new data-protection protocols. Is it helping? Definitely. But massive vulnerabilities still exist across organizations. The reason is that many leadership teams—and the security consultants they employ—are using a one-size-fits-all approach to training and compliance.

One of the greatest complaints that people have with cybersecurity is that defensive protocols tend to be so stringent they impair employees’ ability to do their jobs effectively. In some cases, they could compromise new business opportunities and in extreme scenarios, even revenue growth. When cybersecurity tools and training become too onerous to use, they’ll soon fall by the wayside. That’s why customizing that training and tailoring it to the needs of departments (or even individual employees, whenever possible) is a far more effective risk-mitigation approach.

In short, cybersecurity systems need to be designed to align with the operational requirements and work habits of real people.

Customization is key

That’s why it’s incumbent on cybersecurity service providers to ask a comprehensive list of questions before delivering training. What are your organization’s business objectives? How do your people work? Why are your workplace policies—in particular those that address the management of sensitive data and information—drafted as they are? Can they be updated or improved to address rapidly-increasing cybersecurity risk? How can we design and implement policies that keep your business secure, while ensuring that key processes in areas such as sales or operations aren’t unduly disrupted?

Of course, these are only a tiny handful of the queries your service provider should pose. In most cases, they’ll need to dig much deeper and work with individual managers or employees to design a pragmatic strategy that makes practical sense for your organization.

We should all glean lessons from the cyber malfeasants who are making the time to take a personalized approach to digital crime. Because if they can customize their approach to data theft, network vandalism or ransomware-driven extortion, we should be doing the same when it comes to developing and implementing plans to stop them in their tracks.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SECURITY FOR YOUR SITE?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

When news broke recently that the Swedish Data Protection Authority fined a local municipality more than USD $20,000 for privacy violations, it marked the emergence of a potential new front in the struggle to balance privacy rights and security requirements.

Under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—sweeping legislation that governs everything from website tracking to data collection practices across the 28-member European Union and European Economic Area—the use of data gathered with the help of facial recognition and biometric software is restricted and tightly controlled. Apparently, a school board in Sweden didn’t get the memo and used facial recognition software to track high school student attendance over a three-week trial period intended to test out new technology.

The school board saw the tracking software as more efficient use of teachers’ classroom time. According to media reports, attendance-conscious educators had apparently been devoting about 17,000 hours a year to keeping tabs on their pupils. The SDPA saw the matter differently and issued a significant fine, a first for Sweden.

Prepare to customize your strategy and invest in security components that will mitigate risk and advance your organizations strategic goals.

Tech as a cyber security tool, but to what end? 

The European Union has taken the lead in legislating to secure privacy rights and protect citizens, just as authorities in other regions have turned to cutting-edge new technology designed to enhance protection measures for the general public. In the wake of recent shootings in Toronto, for example, the city’s community housing agency has announced plans to increase video surveillance in at-risk neighbourhoods, all to help deter crime and aid police enforcement efforts. In the United Kingdom, cities such as London have long relied on street-level surveillance to maintain safety. The U.S. government has been using biometric technology, including the fingerprinting of foreign visitors, at border crossings for years.

The challenge that arises, of course, is when governments abuse these tools. China has faced widespread criticism for its use of facial recognition and data collection programs in its western provinces to track the local Uyghur community. In other parts of the country, Beijing actively uses technology to help silence or monitor anti-government voices. Many liken the tactics to an Orwellian invasion of privacy, an effort to enforce government-sanctioned values on an unassuming populace.

If a school board in Sweden uses facial recognition technology to track students, some argue, it’s not far-fetched to expect a more widespread application of that software across society. In the hands of a trusted few, there isn’t much concern. But what happens if those individuals can no longer be trusted?

thumbprint - wincon security integration solutions
Does your cyber security strategy violate rules? Consult with us to learn more.

Legal systems adapting to new technology 

The reality is the use of technology as a protective tool is hardly novel and, in most cases, isn’t nearly as sinister as some may contend. The big question, as with the example from Sweden, is to what degree governments will tolerate its use. Authorities in Canada are beginning to weigh in on the safety and security vs. privacy debate.

In Ontario, for example, a labour arbitrator recently ruled in Teamsters Local Union No. 230 v Innocon Inc., that a concrete delivery company (Innocon) had the right to install cameras in its trucks to help improve driver safety and highlight potential driver misconduct by recording a driver’s actions, but only in the event that the vehicle swerved unexpectedly or took some form of evasive action that could indicate erroneous or erratic driving. In the arbitrator’s view, some level of in-cab monitoring was justified because an employer’s business interests can supersede an employee’s right to privacy under specific circumstances.

Cyber security strategies for business

Business owners should be aware that at any point, our legal landscape could shift and new laws could limit the use of biometric or facial technology when used in public spaces or workplaces. But I predict that governments will take a measured approach to balance privacy and security concerns. It’s likely that we will see a tightening of privacy restrictions in Ontario and across Canada at some point. In the meantime, however, your focus should be on assessing your organization’s security vulnerabilities and taking an integrated approach to protecting your people and assets.

That means reviewing the plethora of tech tools available on the market and deciding which ones make sense for your organization based on its operational needs. Facial recognition technology may make sense for a retailer with several busy locations, for example, but could provide little benefit to a software development firm with much simpler security needs. Be prepared to customize your strategy and invest in security components that will make a decided impact in helping mitigate risk and advancing your organization’s strategic goals (e.g., not being robbed, having your data held hostage, or seeing your commercial property or workplace invaded).

But first, take the time to understand your jurisdiction’s privacy laws. Make sure your security strategy doesn’t violate any rules when the time comes to implement cutting-edge—yet potentially controversial—security technology.

New BOMA report offers cyber security advice for commercial property owners

We not only live in a world addicted to data, but one that often ignores cyber security.

From our smartphones to the digital personal assistants (Siri, Alexa) that have been marketed as tools to free our time for leisurely pursuits—the jury’s still very much out on whether they’re helping most of us achieve that goal—an increasing number of interactions in our daily lives involve internet-connected digital devices that track human behaviour. Most of this data is benign and has little application outside of the marketing world. When I mention visiting a destination on a social media account, for example, I suddenly find ads for that destination in my news feed. It’s annoying, maybe, but not necessarily a major breach of privacy.

Now, what happens when smart devices start tracking and collecting information across a commercial property?

… attackers are becoming more persistent and patient, whether to gain ransom or cause other damages …

BOMA Canada

Connected commercial properties

No need to wonder because that’s likely already happening in a building you occupy, and perhaps the one you’re sitting in right now. Everything from your building’s door card readers and fire alarm panels to its HVAC system, surveillance cameras, and thermostats could well be connected to the Internet. The potential for efficiencies, cost savings, and property performance improvements are almost too numerous to summarize in a single article. But so, too, are the cyber security risks.

While security firms such as ours still guard against so-called traditional thieves—thieves who break into a facility intent on stealing merchandise or equipment, or engaging in vandalism, for example—Wincon Security has evolved into an integrated solutions provider in recent years precisely because an equal and fast-growing risk exists in the online realm. Sophisticated malfeasants, many of whom are connected to overseas organized crime rings, are looking for easy targets. That means organizations or commercial property owners reluctant or unwilling to invest in a holistic, digitally-focused security strategy to protect their assets are gravely exposed.

Why wait-and-see never works

Unfortunately, many organizations take a cross-your-fingers approach to security, betting that they’re too small or their data is too invaluable to draw the attention of cyber thieves. That is until they’re hit. Then most are left scrambling trying to restore systems or pay ransoms to recover data and rebuild their businesses after an online attack.

Wincon Cyber Security - digital background
Ensure your security personnel is well trained in mitigating cyber threats as they are at standing guard. Consult with Wincon today to learn more.

So great is the threat that BOMA Canada recently published a Cyber Wellness Guide for commercial property owners. In it, the organization notes:

The IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) currently in the market is geared towards user value and hasn’t necessarily been looked at from a thorough cyber security perspective. That increases the onus on building managers to have a robust plan to prevent and deal with cyber issues.

In addition to the expanding network of smart devices, attackers are also becoming more persistent and patient, whether it is to gain ransom from you or to cause other damage. In addition to local hackers who may use phishing attacks or ransomware to cause potential damage, there are international threats too as proximity does not matter when dealing with cyber risks, and no sector is immune.

Indeed, it’s not alarmist to assume that a hacker could breach your building’s cyber defenses (assuming they’re in place, which isn’t always a given), steal data, and even coordinate with thieves to break into your facility. If your organization happens to deal in high-value or sensitive materials, this is of particular concern. So, what’s a property owner or manager to do?

 Be proactive to bolster cyber security

As the BOMA report notes, it all starts with preparation. Having tools such as firewalls, anti-virus software or endpoint security on laptops and other vulnerable devices in place is crucial. Huge advancements are also being made with artificial intelligence technology to detect breaches long before they become obvious or increase risk. Of course, staff training is another important consideration—and that includes making sure that security personnel is as well trained in mitigating cyber threats as they are in monitoring traditional causes of building vulnerability or standing on guard to prevent incidents such as physical break-ins.

Having a significant security budget in place is another important consideration that many property owners overlook—particularly if they’re prone to trying to looking for ways to maximize profitability at the expense of all other considerations. That budget should include line items for both physical and cyber security measures. From there your team will need a cyber security plan that can be implemented at a moment’s notice if a data breach occurs. The plan should be customized to your specific needs and be comprehensive enough to address a range of possible scenarios.

Most importantly, be sure to work with a security provider who understands the risks involved as the IIoT becomes ubiquitous, cyber threats increase and the need for solutions integration becomes more important than ever. Because the last thing any busy commercial property owner should waste time fretting over is whether a hacker in some far-flung locale is preparing to compromise the security of their data or their facility.

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Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security

Odds are that when most of us look for space in a commercial office tower or a unit in a condominium, little thought goes to the functionality of the building’s elevators. In fact, there’s a good chance that we don’t even think about these fast-moving pieces of infrastructure unless we have a specific, pre-existing interest in lift operations.

It may be time to start paying attention.

As more high-rise buildings are constructed across the Greater Toronto Area—some soaring to dizzying heights of 80 stories or more—as well as in major urban centres across the country, operational challenges are becoming a more pressing concern for owners and managers of commercial and residential properties. Specifically, a flurry of recent media headlines has focused on residents left stranded when an apartment or condominium building’s entire elevator bank goes out of operation at once. Others have pointed to elevator issues in office towers where, in some cases, tenants have been unable to access their offices despite the significant bottom-line business consequences.

Few infrastructure-related issues generate more angst, arguments and animosity than elevator functionality.

A condo challenge for mobility-impaired tenants

Other, more damaging, headlines highlight the plight of vulnerable groups of residents such as the disabled and seniors, who wind up stranded in their apartments when lifts are taken out of operation. Not only is this a massive inconvenience, it puts lives at risk when individuals with mobility or cognitive issues are unable to exit buildings in the event of a major emergency such as a fire. In other cases, such as a medical emergency, accessing those same individuals can cost precious minutes and quickly become a matter of life and death. For property owners and managers, this kind of news is not only bad for a property’s brand—negatively impacting tenant attraction and retention, and potentially even rental prices—but also represents a major liability threat.

The obvious solution is to work with a reputable elevator supplier and install only the best possible equipment, then be sure to maintain it on a regular schedule; maintenance must also be coordinated to ensure that all of a building’s elevators aren’t out of service at the same time. But far less obvious is the need to look at elevator operation as a security issue, thereby underscoring its importance.

Wincon security guard pressing buttons in Toronto elevator
Commercial and condo elevator security should not be overlooked.

As we see in so many residential and commercial engagements, few infrastructure-related issues generate more angst, arguments, and animosity than those related to elevator functionality. We’ve literally seen fistfights break out over access to lifts when one or more are down, particularly when an elevator is put on service for moving purposes. These problems tend to be exacerbated in older buildings that have only two elevators—newer builds tend to have at least three elevators, two for passengers and one for both passenger and service use.

Looking at elevator performance through a security lens

Our recommendation is to work with your security team—whether outsourced or in-house—to develop a strategy to proactively manage elevator challenges before they arise. For example, if you know that an elevator is due for maintenance, work with your elevator service provider to schedule that servicing well before it turns into a crisis need. Collaborate with both building maintenance and security to determine times that are best suited to conducting maintenance, such as when traffic levels aren’t at their peak and when tenants aren’t attempting to move items into or out of the building. Then be prepared to revise that plan to address ongoing changes to everything from the building’s tenant composition to operational circumstances.

With more lifts than ever being installed in Toronto, don’t treat this as an afterthought.

Next, train your guards to understand those procedures and how to implement them at a moment’s notice. That should include arming them with effective communications tools—everything from lobby signage and tenant email addresses, to talking points—designed to keep key stakeholders informed and up-to-date on the status of elevator issues and, most importantly, a timeline explaining when they’ll likely be resolved. One of the most important aspects of that training is enhancing guards’ focus on customer service. Security staff will need to understand how to defuse tenant tensions by showing empathy, while also clearly explaining the plan to address the issue at hand.

Security training is essential

Last, but definitely not least, guards should be trained in the basic operation of necessary control panels and have direct access to your elevator maintenance service provider. All too often, repairs are delayed because managers or guards simply don’t know who to call. That’s an inexcusable oversight that’s easily remedied by preparing an emergency contact list (stored digitally and in hard copy format at a concierge desk or security office) with email addresses and phone numbers for mission-critical service providers.

At a time when sustainable urban planning guidelines are calling for our cities to be built up rather than out, and with more lifts being installed now than at any time in Toronto’s history, treating this key piece of infrastructure as an afterthought is no longer an option. For commercial and residential property owners and managers, the smooth elevator operation stakes are just too high to ignore.

CONSULT WITH US ABOUT YOUR ELEVATOR & SECURITY NEEDS

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Winston Stewart, President and CEO

One of the most valuable lessons any entrepreneur can learn is the importance of people. Great companies aren’t just built on game-changing ideas and innovation, amazing products or industry-leading service. Without the right team in place, success is virtually impossible. On that note, it’s with great pride that I introduce the Wincon Security Employee of the Year for 2018—Syed Johar.

Syed joined the Wincon team in September, 2016, after emigrating to Canada from his native Pakistan in 2015. New to the country and seeking to build a successful career, Syed sought opportunities in the security industry and came to appreciate both the flexibility of the position, as well of the responsibility of helping property owners guard their residential or commercial assets. The availability of hours also helped Syed support his young family, including his then two-year-old son.

I should point out that over the past year we’ve put a great amount of time and effort into not only redefining our core values—which I covered in our last blog—but also determining exactly the type of employee we want to hire to help drive Wincon’s growth as we continue to solidify our firm’s reputation as one of Canada’s leading security and integration solution providers. We already have a great culture, but we embarked on a journey to figure out how we could make it even better.

Wincon security guard receiving award
Security guard of the year.

We looked at the incredible employees we have on staff and analyzed the many valuable personal and professional assets they bring to the table each and every day. They are: focused, hard-working, passionate, innovative, collaborative, respectful, service-oriented. The list of adjectives is simply too long to summarize in full here. Perhaps most importantly, we confirmed what we already knew. Our people truly care, not only about our customers, but about each other. They go above and beyond to provide the kind of service they would expect if they were the ones hiring a security firm to protect their property. When a colleague is facing challenges, they lend a hand and help them solve the problem.

If a customer isn’t 100 percent satisfied, they find a way to put a smile on that customer’s face. If one of our team members can’t resolve an issue, they escalate it immediately through our customer service response team and stay on top of the matter until it’s resolved to the client’s complete and total satisfaction. Importantly, they regularly espouse one of our most important core values—that at Wincon Security, nothing is impossible. If there’s a way to overcome a challenge or introduce a dynamic new product or service (or improve an existing one), we’ll find a way to make it happen.

In Syed, we found the embodiment of that organizational spirit. His dedication and strong work ethic are second to none. He was recently promoted to supervisor in our Mobile Division and quickly set about making his mark, connecting with his team and suggesting service improvements that we’re currently studying to potentially implement in the near future.

“I can honestly say that I love coming to work every day,” Syed says. “I feel like my contributions are truly valued and that my industry experience really matters to the team. I have an opportunity to make a difference and I love the fact that I’ve been given the responsibility to work directly with our customers to make a difference in their lives.”

Syed has told us that he’s hoping to build a long-lasting career and relationship with Wincon. The good news is that we have a reputation for attracting and retaining talent—some of our employees have been with the company for 15 years or more. That kind of retention is unheard of in our industry, and speaks to our collective commitment to training, developing and engaging our employees to build the Canadian security industry’s most dynamic employee culture. In other words, odds are that Syed will be with us for a long time, and we couldn’t be happier.

So, congratulations, Syed! You embody the core values of our organization and your enthusiasm is contagious. We can’t wait to work together in the years ahead.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO