At the Frontline: A Q&A with Unisys Director of Corporate Security Eileen Wieber

Unisys' Eileen Wieber discusses enterprise-wise operations, crisis management, and explaining ROI to corporate executives

SIW: What are some of the technologies and products that you've been interested in recently and are starting to implement?

Wieber: A large focus of ours has been to move to an enterprise-level access control system globally utilizing Lenel software. With Lenel we can utilize visitor control, property control, and the system can interface with many other platforms. As our budget allows, we have been converting old locations, and we are installing Lenel software in our new locations and facilities. The long-range goal is to have all locations utilizing one access control system. We eventually will interface this system with our employee database and also our facilities database to assist in space utilization of our facilities. Again, in this area, the cost versus risk factor must come into play. We have to ask, "What is the most economical way of achieving this goal?"

Other technologies are constantly being reviewed. We are currently in a review process for other technologies that may prove to be beneficial.

SIW: Your dealings with the current wave of technology in security must mean that you have to work more closely with IT security staff now. How is convergence handled at Unisys and what kinds of plans do you have for crossover security issues?

Wieber: Being a technology company, the need to have communication between corporate security and IT security was recognized some years ago. The two departments work well together, particularly on those issues that arise where there may be crossover responsibility.

There is also a group that was formed called the Security Advisory Council. This group has representation from any organization that may have any security relationship internally. We have representatives from corporate security, IT security, IT management, general counsel, audit, environmental safety and health, and human resources. In today's environment, this group has been particularly beneficial as there are many issues that reach out beyond what normally would be your typical security department, such as Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and C-TPAT compliance. It has also been helpful with issues surrounding privacy, which is addressed in just about every discipline within the company. The council has also been working on creating an all-encompassing security policy that would oversee all security-related policies, regardless of under which discipline they reside.

SIW: Since your workers are working closely on vital systems of high profile companies or agencies, be that financial institutions, aviation providers or the government, what kind of background check program do you use and how do you implement it in terms of cost and deciding how deep into background research you go?

Wieber: A pre-employment background check program was initiated seven years ago, and has proven to be a successful program. The specifics of the program cannot be discussed, however, we certainly are in compliance with industry best practices. The program has been centralized within the corporate security department, which removes the burden from the field offices to analyze the results and make security-based hiring decisions. The other benefits of centralization are consistency in hiring practices, which minimizes exposure for accusations of negligent hiring practices or EEOC challenges. The costs of doing background checks far outweigh the risk of not doing them. We have seen a positive influence on our workforce since the inception of screening employees.

Clients may require screening procedures that differ from our standard and we always make accommodations for those requirements. Again, we get involved as early as the contractual stage, to assist contracts personnel and advise them on what type of screening should be done for a particular customer.

SIW: Since 9/11, when all major companies had to step back and really think hard about corporate security, what have you seen happen? In talking with colleagues that you meet at industry events, what are you hearing is happening now, three years later, in corporate security?