Mid-size Security Threats

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 double digits.

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 financial institutions.

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 security measures.

“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 said.

Having technology in your corner means a bigger payback with today’s spend on security in the financial services sector.

“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.

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