Investing the Secure Way
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jan 01, 2009
At the 2007 Financial Symposium held in
Europe, Sir Chris Fox, former president of the
Association of Chief Police Officers in the
United Kingdom, focused his remarks on the strategic
and corporate responsibility of partnerships for security
in the finance and banking sector. His comments of yesteryear
couldn’t have been more appropriate for today’s
banking and financial institution leadership.
Retail and investment banks are facing critical security
challenges that hinge on success and failure.
“I believe the world is getting smaller and life is getting
faster,” Fox said. “The use of technology and the
ease of global travel are making crime in the finance and
banking sector more complex.”
Financial crime is international in nature, which
makes the fight against the organized criminal difficult
when police or financial institutions try to handle a situation
by themselves. Partnerships and collaboration
between companies, regulators and law enforcement is
the only way to proceed.
In November 2008, ADT sponsored a banking and
retail forum in Palm Beach, Fla., where industry experts
gathered to share their thoughts and proceed with an
active plan for financial security. Most of today’s criminals
aren’t about walking into a bank branch and yelling,
“Stick ‘em up.” The new criminal works with identity
theft and fraud, both of which are growing issues, and
not just in the financial world.
Preventing identity theft and fraud is almost too easy.
Brad Bryant, chief of the violent crimes major offender
unit with the FBI, said the easiest means to prevent such
crimes is for banks and financial institutions to pool
their resources and put credentialing systems in place.
He also pointed toward regional coalitions between
financial institutions, so banks can inform each other
when criminal activity is taking place in a particular
area. Bank fraud has become such a high priority with
the FBI, Bryant said as many as 200 agents are now
working on mortgage frauds.
Speaking of regional coalitions, the first such organization
turned five years old in July 2008.
ChicagoFIRST has 28 members from the financial services
sector in the Chicago area, including banks, securities,
futures and options firms. This also includes
exchanges and insurance companies.
Expanding its relationship to the federal, state and
local level, ChicagoFIRST has been pushing for the
development of an interoperable credential system for
essential staff in critical infrastructure sectors.
“The development of an effective credential system
can expedite business and infrastructure recovery after a
disaster, but private sector coordination with regional
public sector response agencies is very important,” said
Sara E. Alexander, deputy director of ChicagoFIRST.
“We are fortunate that local and state authorities in our
region are developing credential systems with the goal
of becoming interoperable with the system coming on
line at the federal level through the Department of
ChicagoFIRST also has played a leading role in helping
establish and maintain similar organizations nationwide.
Twelve such partnerships have formed in the
United States, using the same basic ChicagoFIRST
model, and several more partnerships are in the process
In 2006, ChicagoFIRST established RPCfirst, a
regional partnership council of these coalitions, to assist
with both administrative and operations tasks. A year
later, members of RPCfirst held their first meeting with
the Treasury Department. Also present were representatives
from DHS and leaders from the energy and
telecommunications sectors. The importance of this
meeting was to introduce federal government officials to
these regional coalitions and to familiarize the coalitions
with the relevant federal partners.
Several workshops and exercises later, ChicagoFIRST
had improved Chicago’s financial community. The exercises
tested numerous communication protocols and
emergency messaging tools, as well as the sector’s
response to major emergency events or a pandemic. They
also are engaging other critical infrastructure sectors and
government officials in regional planning, all the while
supporting the nation’s infrastructure.
Here is where it all ties together so keenly. Various
concerned groups, such as the financial sector, can now
help and depend upon law enforcement to back them up
in case of fraud or even a potential public health emergency.
Recent mailings through the postal service to
banking institutions revealed white powder in an envelope.
Though found to be harmless, what’s to say it might
have been otherwise? This not only brought in the FBI,
but the U.S. Postal Inspection Service also played a key
role in resolving the situation.
Let’s face it, a crisis is no time to be exchanging business
Best practices means that there is no blind eye when
it comes to security. Security experts are prepared for an
emergency and are set to resume business in case of an
emergency or natural disaster.
The trick is to fully understand security through intelligence,
assessment and research. Being prepared means
developing the right response, knowing what works and
properly implementing those solutions.
This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Security Today.