The threats faced by the property sector are varied and depend on a number of factors, including how good the security is. The pandemic has also reshaped some of these factors and changed threat levels.


Here is an overview of the principal threats and how to stay a step ahead.

Theft can be undertaken by opportunist thieves exploiting security lapses or professional thieves targeting premises known to hold valuable assets.

Property damage can occur at any time from natural causes or deliberate harm, ranging from vandalism to terrorism.

Theft and property damage are not just external threats, as they are often undertaken by those working in the property.

Vacant properties are exposed to a number of threats and hazards, from burst water pipes and flooding to theft, vandalism, fly-tipping and illegal occupation. Owners of real estate have a legal duty of care to protect people on their sites from foreseeable harm, including those who trespass.

Conflict and abuse can be a threat and employers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees, contractors, visitors and clients.

The Covid pandemic has led to new ways of working, which has made cyber security, as well as physical security, more difficult for many organisations.

Terrorism is one of the biggest security concerns for many. The current threat to the UK from terrorism is classified as ‘substantial’, meaning that an attack is likely.

Activism and civil disobedience which are increasingly used to raise awareness of issues, have created a constantly evolving threat.

Cyber threats are of particular concern as many properties now rely on digital operations and smart technology. Vulnerability is increased where buildings have multiple occupancies, with interconnectivity and interdependent IT systems, which involve third parties.

Intelligence is key. The G4S Academy provides regular, free security bulletins on potential threats, which can be a useful part of security planning.


A number of elements need to be in place, in order to achieve good security and stay ahead of the evolving threat.

Regular risk assessment and planning

With regular risk assessment and planning being the foundation of good security, it’s worth taking time to consider whether the risk assessments and plans are up to date. Have there been any changes in the assets that need to be protected? Are there any new vulnerabilities? Are the assessments incorporating the latest good intelligence, in real-time, and if so, are they being built into the plan?

Regular testing

In the same way that penetration testing is used to test cyber security, physical security should be tested against various scenarios. Table-top exercises can be an excellent way to identify possible weaknesses and be prepared.

A more holistic approach to training

Security officers will receive training relevant to specific needs, however, it is also important to encourage employees to take part in relevant security training.

Working in partnership

The best security solutions will be achieved where security providers and clients work closely together. Whether it’s the planning of an integrated security solution or a small change in an existing plan, collaboration can help to reach the best solutions, more quickly.

Developing a strong security culture

A strong security culture will ensure that employees are security-conscious and aware of the most effective ways of protecting assets, including themselves. It is important to review the security culture on a regular basis.

Insights, shared information and best practice

Good security utilises insights and shared information, while also using best practice from first responders.

Balancing security and customer service

In addition to providing an excellent security service, security officers working in the property sector must be proficient in customer service.

Embracing new ideas and new technologies

Technologies to counter the threats are constantly evolving. For example, lone worker devices enable staff working remotely to be in permanent contact with the security centre. Hand-held devices can be used to perform tasks that previously required officers to be sitting in a control room, enhancing the security service on the frontline.

Building integration in security

Finally, security that is integrated and planned holistically is likely to work better, because it has been designed to ensure that there are no gaps to be exploited. Physical security is best when security professionals work in harmony with good technology, and when integrated with personnel security (protecting from the insider threat) and cyber security (protecting digital data and systems).

For more information on the threats facing property and what makes good security, read our guide.

Noah Price is International Director of the G4S Academy, which is responsible for sharing specialist threat and security knowledge