Mid-size Security Threats
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Oct 01, 2012
It would be hard to dispute that the banking industry
has an enormous stake in security operations.
In fact, other than the government, the financial
services industry is considered one of the top
spenders for worldwide security solutions.
According to a recent Frost & Sullivan report, “Financial
institutions comprise 20 percent of the world’s
spending on endpoint security solutions and 16 percent
on sophisticated network security applications.”
And, guess what? These numbers are growing by
What you should know is that bank security has
evolved into a multitiered proposition due to the
emergence of new and more sophisticated threats to
The truth is that security risks have grown exponentially,
and traditional banking risks have been
compounded by the intricacies of the Internet.
Though bank robberies still occur, the days of Bonnie
and Clyde striding in and handing over a note for cash
are long gone. Internet threats are the work of wellorganized,
well-funded criminal organizations.
Compliance regulations are brought into play by
federal, state and even local governments. Thus, business
models must change because customers take advantage
of being able to perform transactions almost
anywhere in the world, including at ATMs and pointof-
sale locations through cellphones or computers.
When is the last time you actually made an in-person
deposit at your local bank?
As backward and old-fashioned as I may seem, I
haven’t been in a bank for months, maybe even a year,
yet I feel secure that my bank knows what it’s doing.
A bank’s ability to grow depends now, more than
even before, on the ability to conquer security threats.
Tom Brennan, president and CEO of BranchServ,
understands the financial industry as well as anyone,
having retrofitted existing banks and helped build security
from the ground up in a new facility.
“Our first responsibility is to determine if this is an
existing account or a new account when we begin work
at a banking facility,” Brennan said. “We determine
what security equipment the bank uses and what level
of security it actually wants. We want a clear understanding
of where the bank is headed with its security.”
Based in Bethel, Conn., BranchServ does exactly
what its name implies; it works at the branch level to
consolidate all security needs there. Brennan is quick
to point out that the company specialize in locks, vaults
and safes. However, after a quick few questions, he
says, “Oh yes, we do that (IT convergence), too.”
“Banks look for us to help them by building the
security road map,” said Brian Sullivan, director of
electronic security. “We understand that security officers
are spread thin these days, and that they may
have collateral duties, as well. We see our job as one to
help lay out the plan, then advise them with what they
need to meet their particular demands.”
What’s the bottom line? While it’s nearly impossible
to keep in front of the dynamic and complex security
environs, physical security experts work hand
in hand with network applications to ensure complete
and effective facility security.
Mid-size banks face the same security threats and
landscape for the same compliance rules as their much
larger competitors, but they don’t have masses of expert
security employees. That’s why it is important for
a security integrator to talk about the network layout
of a camera system and how it parallels all other existing
“We do a lot of listening,” Sullivan said.
Another note from the Frost & Sullivan report
states that “midsize banks do not have the luxury
of time to work out a security strategy. Proliferating
threats and multiplying regulations mean that the issues
need to be addressed now.”
Seeing the writing on the wall, so to speak, Brennan
and Sullivan, hired an in-house IT guru. They realized
that in order to protect the internal infrastructure,
they would need to protect the firewall and the
network. That said and done, it is no easier to meet
the stranglehold of abundant regulations, but employing
an IT expert means they can better keep up.
“We quickly learned that having an IT guy meant
we could talk intelligently with our customers,” Sullivan
Having technology in your corner means a bigger
payback with today’s spend on security in the financial
“A few years ago, megapixel cameras were out of
the question,” said Michael Iadarola, senior vice president
and northeast regional manager. “Today, these
cameras are within reach and necessary for credit
unions and mid-sized banks. The convergence in security
makes it better for banks to protect their assets.”
As in any industry, technology rules the day in
banking. Security products are helping banks begin
to market their services more effectively. Virtual tellers
add another dimension to security in the financial
services sector, and, basically, what used to be technology
on training wheels is now reality.
Banking on growth today may include leadership
in ways customers use banking services, including
mobile banking and payments, but it also includes
new technologies, such as cloud computing and virtualization.
With security embedded in every process,
solution and initiative, banks have the foundation to
leverage growth technologies by innovation.
This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Security Today.