Given the vast amount of litigation, businesses and property owners must find a system of adherence towards safe and secure premises to avoid multimillion dollar verdicts. In the business of law, negligent security is a rapidly growing niche field and the number of lawsuits continues to increase. Why? The obvious answer is the current lack of uniform security protocols and policies to employ.

Four elements of negligence

The idea behind these cases is that property owners and property managers must take proper precautions to safeguard their invitees, guests, customers, patrons, visitors and other individuals lawfully on their premises. Before reaching the ultimate decision of whether a property owner or property manager was negligent, four elements must be proven. First, it must be established that the property owner or management company had a duty to provide reasonably safe premises. Typically, the first element of duty is the easiest piece of the puzzle to find. The case law stands strong behind the presumption that property owners and property managers have a duty to supply safe grounds for guests, patrons, invitees, customers, or any individual lawfully on their premises.

The case of Bovis v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 505 So. 2d 661, 664 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987), reminds us that “the duty to protect others from injury resulting from a dangerous condition on a premises does not rest on legal ownership of the dangerous area but on the right to control access by third parties which right usually exists in the one in possession and control of the premises.” If the property is in a high crime area that presumption is further bolstered by the fact that the property owner should not only have taken some measures to provide security, but also to conduct inspections of the premises and/or searches of the neighbouring crime. Furthermore, landowners are expected to give warning of hidden dangers that are known or should be known to the landowner and unknown to the invitee. Second, it must be shown that the property owner breached that duty. Arguably, this should be the hardest piece of the puzzle to find. However, more often than not, the defendants in these cases fail to provide reasonable security measures.

Crime prevention is “the anticipation,
recognition and appraisal of a crime
risk and the initiation of some action
to reduce or remove that risk”

Components of Liability

The thornier component of liability is bifurcated into foreseeability and preventability. From a legal standpoint, there is currently no bright line rule to apply to the preventability and foreseeability components. The current method of addressing these issues is to hire a seasoned security expert, who will review the records reporting the types of crime and frequency of those crimes that occurred in the vicinity of the incident in question. Those records can be obtained from the local police department and through other avenues during the discovery process. The prior crime history of a property is an important focal point for any security expert, plaintiff, or defence, evaluating the foreseeability component. Preventability is approached differently, as there are numerous theories on crime prevention, such as the commonly referenced Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) method. As echoed by the National Crime Prevention Institute, crime prevention is “the anticipation, recognition and appraisal of a crime risk and the initiation of some action to reduce or remove that risk.” The central theme for property owners to remember is that crime prevention requires action, which may include changes to the structure, added surveillance cameras, effective access control methods, and proper maintenance of the premises.

Negligent security case

The third element is causation. Usually, foreseeability goes to proximate cause. A jury must consider whether the negligence on the part of the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury. The negligent act need not be a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury if they were reasonably foreseeable consequences of negligence. The fourth and last element looked upon by a jury is damages. Here is a case example that sheds light on what is happening on the negligent security litigation frontline.

Report Investment Corporation was found negligent after admitting that they never spent one dollar on security or safety
More often than not an hourly waged security officer could have prevented these unfortunate violent crimes

Barrak v. Report Investment Corporation

In 2002, Sami Barrak, at 25 years of age, was rendered a quadriplegic after sustaining a life-altering gunshot wound to the neck while in the parking lot of Tootsie’s Cabaret during an attempted robbery by an unknown assailant. There, the club owners failed to adequately maintain the property and failed to provide adequate security to safeguard its customers, patrons, and guests, including Sami Barrak. The parking lot at Tootsie’s Cabaret was inadequately illuminated and lacked the proper foot patrol. Sami was sitting in the car waiting for his friend to return, when the unknown assailant pointed a gun at him. Moments later, Sami was shot in the neck. Now, Sami survives with the assistance of a ventilator, but every day is a struggle.

Security measures

It was established that the defendant, Report Investment Corporation, had a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Report Investment Corporation was found negligent after admitting that they never spent one dollar on security or safety. During the seven years prior to Sami’s attack, there were approximately 26 violent crimes on the same property. Yet, nothing was done to cure the crime problem and ensure the safety of Tootsie’s patrons. The verdict awarded in favour of the Plaintiff was the largest jury verdict recorded for a negligent security case for $102.7 million, including $1.4 million for past medical expenses, $164,000 for past lost earnings, $28 million for future medical expenses, $650,000 for lost earning ability, $2.5 million for past pain and suffering and $70 million for future pain and suffering.

 It is important to note that different
properties require different security
needs; thus different standards should
be implemented in different industries

A disheartening fact of these cases is that more often than not an hourly waged security officer could have prevented these unfortunate violent crimes from occurring and saved a victim’s life. Frequently, it boils down to cost. As a result, property owners and property management companies are less inclined to spend the money and resources on adequate security measures. However, that is a costly mistake as evidenced above.

Uniform security standards

The above case is  just one example of the stark negligence of defendant property owners around the state of Florida. These same issues exist on a national level, with, Texas, New York, and California as top negligent security litigation contenders. That is precisely why nationally uniform industry standards need to be implemented. It is important to note that different properties require different security needs; thus different standards should be implemented in different industries. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent victimisations and serious violent victimisations have declined in number in recent years. The numbers for 2010 reflect 3.8 million violent victimisations and 1.4 million serious violent victimisations, which is a 34% decrease since 2001. If crime is on the decline, why is negligent security litigation such a growing sector?

The central theme for property owners to remember is that crime prevention requires action
Owners must find a system of adherence towards safe and secure premises to avoid multimillion dollar verdicts

Risk management practices

Owners must find a system of adherence towards safe and secure premises to avoid multimillion dollar verdicts. A security analysis must be done prior to purchasing any parcel or property. Secondly, a sound security plan must be developed and enacted. Many local police departments offer free security analyses, where law enforcement will come out to a property, inspect the premises and provide recommendations as to what reasonable security a given property needs. Crime grids and police reports showing the types of crimes occurring in your area, the number of those crimes and locations relative to your property can be obtained for a minimal charge from local police departments. Supplement the police department services by contacting a reliable and experienced security company. They will recommend what security devices and measures should be adopted and create a security plan, which may include but not be limited to: security surveillance cameras, gates, panic buttons, lighting, security guards, etc. Again, the central theme for property owners to remember is that crime prevention requires action.

Security as a responsibility

Property owners and property management companies must not hide behind the guise of a failing economy. Instead, they must put forth reasonable effort to provide safe premises for the well-being of their patrons, guests and invitees. Violent crimes are generally foreseeable and with the sophistication and refinement of the security industry in recent years, crime prevention and deterrence has become more accessible and affordable. Landowners are doing themselves and their invitees a disservice by ignoring obvious crime-infested properties and exposing themselves to liability. These cases are complex and costly to litigate. Furthermore, the cases going to trial frequently result in multi-million dollar verdicts. When a violent crime occurs on your premises, how do you defend a negligent security claim when you took no reasonable steps to provide reasonable safe premises? You simply cannot.

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Adapting servers for IP video surveillance systems: Why manufacturers struggle
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Buying a video server based on a low price aggravates the problem. “Frankensteined” or generic servers tend to generate additional costs over time, such as firmware or supply chain issues, and some systems builders have failed to provide support to offset those costs. In fact, the high costs over time of supporting inexpensive servers have been unsustainable for some system builders, who have left integrators and end users holding the bag, and in some cases, the liability. Adapting to sustainable strategies “Systems builders to the video surveillance market must adapt and invest to meet the demands of security integrators’ expectations, and they need a business model that enables them to provide a substantial level of support and commitment,” says Larson. “Working with high-quality manufacturers and providing tried-and-tested, certified equipment upfront ensures manageable costs over the life of the system. 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New Year’s Resolutions to counter web and mobile application security breaches in 2019
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How organisations can secure user credentials from data breaches and password hacks
How organisations can secure user credentials from data breaches and password hacks

In the age of massive data breaches, phishing attacks and password hacks, user credentials are increasingly unsafe. So how can organisations secure accounts without making life more difficult for users? Marc Vanmaele, CEO of TrustBuilder, explains. User credentials give us a sense of security. Users select their password, it's personal and memorable to them, and it's likely that it includes special characters and numbers for added security. Sadly, this sense is most likely false. If it's anything like the 5.4 billion user IDs on haveibeenpwned.com, their login has already been compromised. If it's not listed, it could be soon. Recent estimates state that 8 million more credentials are compromised every day. Ensuring safe access Data breaches, ransomware and phishing campaigns are increasingly easy to pull off. Cyber criminals can easily find the tools they need on Google with little to no technical knowledge. Breached passwords are readily available to cyber criminals on the internet. 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After GDPR was implemented across the European Union, organisations could face a fine of up to €20 million, or 4% annual global turnover – whichever is higher, should they seriously fail to comply with their data protection obligations. This alone was enough to prompt many organisations to get serious about their user’s security. Still, not every business followed suit. Cloud security risks Breaches were most commonly identified in organisations using cloud computing or where staff use personal devices According to a recent survey conducted at Infosecurity Europe, more than a quarter of organisations did not feel ready to comply with GDPR in August 2018 – three months after the compliance deadline. Meanwhile, according to the UK Government’s 2018 Cyber Security Breaches survey, 45% of businesses reported breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. According to the report, logins are less secure when accessing services in the cloud where they aren't protected by enterprise firewalls and security systems. Moreover, breaches were most commonly identified in organisations using cloud computing or where staff use personal devices (known as BYOD). According to the survey, 61% of UK organisations use cloud-based services. The figure is higher in banking and finance (74%), IT and communications (81%) and education (75%). Additionally, 45% of businesses have BYOD. This indicates a precarious situation. The majority of businesses hold personal data on users electronically and may be placing users at risk if their IT environments are not adequately protected. Hackers have developed a wide range of tools to crack passwords, and these are readily available within a couple of clicks on a search engine Hacking methodology In a recent exposé on LifeHacker, Internet standards expert John Pozadzides revealed multiple methods hackers use to bypass even the most secure passwords. According to John’s revelations, 20% of passwords are simple enough to guess using easily accessible information. But that doesn’t leave the remaining 80% safe. Hackers have developed a wide range of tools to crack passwords, and these are readily available within a couple of clicks on a search engine. Brute force attacks are one of the easiest methods, but criminals also use increasingly sophisticated phishing campaigns to fool users into handing over their passwords. Users expect organisations to protect their passwords and keep intruders out of their accounts Once a threat actor has access to one password, they can easily gain access to multiple accounts. This is because, according to Mashable, 87% of users aged 18-30 and 81% of users aged 31+ reuse the same passwords across multiple accounts. It’s becoming clear that passwords are no longer enough to keep online accounts secure. Securing data with simplicity Users expect organisations to protect their passwords and keep intruders out of their accounts. As a result of a data breach, companies will of course suffer financial losses through fines and remediation costs. Beyond the immediate financial repercussions, however, the reputational damage can be seriously costly. A recent Gemalto study showed that 44% of consumers would leave their bank in the event of a security breach, and 38% would switch to a competitor offering a better service. Simplicity is equally important, however. For example, if it’s not delivered in ecommerce, one in three customers will abandon their purchase – as a recent report by Magnetic North revealed. If a login process is confusing, staff may be tempted to help themselves access the information they need by slipping out of secure habits. They may write their passwords down, share them with other members of staff, and may be more susceptible to social engineering attacks. So how do organisations strike the right balance? For many, Identity and Access Management solutions help to deliver secure access across the entire estate. It’s important though that these enable simplicity for the organisation, as well as users. Organisations need an IAM solution that will adapt to both of these factors, providing them with the ability to apply tough access policies when and where they are needed and prioritising swift access where it’s safe to do so Flexible IAM While IAM is highly recommended, organisations should seek solutions that offer the flexibility to define their own balance between a seamless end-user journey and the need for a high level of identity assurance. Organisations’ identity management requirements will change over time. So too will their IT environments. Organisations need an IAM solution that will adapt to both of these factors, providing them with the ability to apply tough access policies when and where they are needed and prioritising swift access where it’s safe to do so. Importantly, the best solutions will be those that enable this flexibility without spending significant time and resource each time adaptations need to be made. Those that do will provide the best return on investment for organisations looking to keep intruders at bay, while enabling users to log in safely and simply.