As the COVID-19 pandemic began around the world in early 2020, budgets decreased as businesses shuttered their doors. According to Global Guardian Founder and CEO Dale Buckner, security budgets have the potential to double or triple in 2022.

Buckner says physical security budgets plummeted as employees left the office and enterprise organizations under duress looked for department funding to cut. While two-thirds of security budgets increased in 2021, they still have yet to reach 2019 levels. 2022 has the potential to change that.

"The reality is, as we come back to life, active shooter and mass casualty events are not going to go away — they're going to come back," says Buckner. COVID-19 created new security challenges that have yet to be solved, and as schools and businesses reopen and remain open during future surges, the security risks of the past return as well. In order to protect themselves from past, current and future threats, enterprise organizations need to reinvest in physical security.

"You're going to have to have real camera surveillance and real-time monitoring integrated with a guard force that is properly trained," says Buckner. The high-caliber security guards and training necessary to protect against threats to a business cost more than $15 an hour, according to Buckner. "It's only going to get harder to protect your enterprise, your trade secrets, your IP. All of this leads to this explosion of requirements in budget," he says.

Another factor contributing to budget increases in 2022 is executive protection. According to the Ontic 2021 Mid-Year Outlook: State of Protective Intelligence Report, 58% of CEOs who expressed a stance on political issues received physical threats. Of those CEOs who did not express a position, 40% still received threats. Additionally, 56% of enterprise leaders who encouraged health measures like vaccination or mask-wearing received physical threats. Against the backdrop of this increased threat landscape, executive protection has grown in importance among physical security professionals.

Buckner notes that these threats could also come from inside an organization. “If leaders don’t take a stand, there’s pressure internally — your organization, your people are expecting you to take that stand, and if you don’t, you’re equally going to be threatened. This is uncharted territory for corporate America,” says Buckner.

In an uncertain and rapidly changing threat landscape, organizations can protect themselves with integrated security strategies. Another factor increasing security budgets in the New Year will be insurance — as physical and cyber threats compound, organizations looking to secure themselves on all fronts will see higher insurance premiums as supply chain, cyber and physical risk increases. Buckner emphasized the importance of the lessons learned by challenges early on in the pandemic, saying that security professionals need to identify and remedy any weaknesses in their strategy exposed by the pandemic.

“You’ve got to identify where the shortfalls are and plug those holes now because if you don't get ahead of it right now, as we reopen, you're going to be right back in the same failed position that you were back in March when it started,” he says.

Security officers, executive protection and acting quickly to solve challenges highlighted by COVID-19 will all lead to increases in security budgets in 2022. With the threats of today combined with the security risks of pre-pandemic times, enterprise security leaders will need to work proactively and reactively to fully secure their organizations.

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.