Securing the corporate mailroom

Industry experts discuss key methods and technologies to detecting threats received in the mail

There are also other threats that can enter the workplace through the mail, even though there may be no malicious intent behind them. Coakley said that employees will sometimes have knives or weapons for sporting use sent to their offices and while they were not intended to cause harm, they can disrupt a company's operations.

"The real threat that most organizations have to be prepared for is one that is to cause disruption, to force an organization to evacuate," he said.

Once a potential threat has been detected, even though it may be benign, it has to be treated as if it were real.

Besides the obvious response of notifying the authorities, Heil says isolation of the package or letter in question is important in the initial response to the threat. Even taking the most basic precautions is a big key. Heil said he is familiar with one facility that had an empty 20 gallon bin in their mailroom that workers could use once they realized that they had touched something that was potentially hazardous. Mailroom workers should also wear rubber gloves throughout the course of the day to keep hazardous materials from coming in direct contact with the skin.

Communication within an organization can also play a vital role in warding off potential threats, especially if you know that some of your company's braches or subsidiaries have been recently targeted.

"When one (branch or office) receives (a mail threat), the best coarse is to communicate it more broadly with others that you know and trust because very rarely do these things travel as a single envelope," Coakley said.