Branch Security: Identify Your ‘Hot Points’

Diebold report outlines how to make eight key security areas less vulnerable to criminals.

July 26, 2012

Every credit union facility has its own unique set of security threats. Even so, a number of “hot points” are consistent from institution to institution, market to market, location to location, according to “Maintaining a Focus on Facility Security in the Age of the Electronic Channel,” a white paper from Diebold.

While a credit union’s individual needs may affect how it secures these hot points, some best practices can help guide the development of a security strategy. From outside at the perimeter to a variety of internal areas, people, and devices that require protection, effective facility security is all about safeguarding the hot points from the outside in.

“Maintaining a Focus on Facility Security” cites eight common hot points and how to make them less vulnerable to criminals.

1. The perimeter

Because there’s less control of the environment surrounding a facility, the perimeter is often more vulnerable to criminal activity than other building zones. Even so, when it comes to protecting the perimeter, it’s all about the basics.

Appropriate lighting can deter criminal activity—by up to 20%, according to some estimates—and improve members’ perception of security around the perimeter. Exterior lighting should meet or exceed lighting specifications, which are governed by regulation in most states.

The configuration of the perimeter, as well as the placement of equipment, can also affect security. Physical obstructions around a facility’s perimeter can help harbor those with malicious intent. Points of entry and exit, as well as the areas surrounding ATMs and night depositories, should be free of such obstructions.

Strategically placed cameras around the facility’s perimeter not only enable monitoring services and the capture of video that may be critical for the prosecution of criminals, they also help thwart criminal activity.

Prime locations for exterior cameras include the main entrance, parking area near the main entrance, ATM locations, after-hour depositories, drive-up lanes, remote staff entry/exit points, and employee parking areas.

2. The drive-up

Today’s drive-up remains a primary form of convenience for both consumer and business banking. And it continues to be a hotbed for would-be criminals who aren’t brazen enough to take their activities into the branch.

Tools such as bullet-resistive (BR) products and two-way video can enhance security in the drive-up.

BR windows are designed to protect tellers who are in members’ line of sight. And when used in conjunction with BR windows, BR drawers and pass-through trays can further enhance the security of the drive-up environment for both consumers and personnel.

Financial institutions can further mitigate risk to drive-up tellers by relocating them from the drive-up window to more secure locations within the branch. Two-way video can enhance security for tellers without sacrificing their level of consumer service.

3. Night depository

The night depository continues to be a vital component of business banking. Unfortunately, it also remains a prime target for robberies and other malicious activities.

The use of cameras in conjunction with after-hour depositories can help discourage criminal activity and capture critical video in the event of a security breach. Dual cameras can offer views of both the depository chest and the surrounding exterior scene.

Surveillance can record images from the front of the depository and from within the unit as envelopes or bags fall into the chest, creating permanent, visual transaction records. Connection to the facility’s video monitoring capabilities can enable around-the-clock evaluation of activity at the depository.

After-hour depository alarms can be integrated into a financial institution’s existing alarm system. Alarm options include door contact alarms, heat thermo alarms, and seismic detectors.

These devices can detect a wide variety of attacks, such as external prying, torching, hammer attacks, and jamming of the drum assembly.

4. Employee entrances and parking areas

Safety is a critical employee concern that has immeasurable impact on recruitment and retention for financial institutions. Adequate lighting and video analytics in key employee areas can help ensure optimal security.

Employee entrances/exits and parking areas can be primary targets for potential robberies, internal theft, and other crimes. Similar to exterior consumer entrances and self-service areas, adequate lighting in key employee areas will not only deter potential criminal activity, but also foster a perception of security among the employee population.

One technology that’s emerging for security applications, video analytics, can be applied to help detect suspicious activity in employee areas. Using parameters the credit union identifies, the technology uses sophisticated software to analyze live or recorded surveillance video.

Analysis detects differences between actual activity and activity that’s identified as normal. It can then alert the financial institution to events of interest through actions such as triggering an alarm, alerting personnel via pre-defined protocols, or gathering data for later review.

NEXT: Securing the lobby, teller area, vault, and ATMs

5. Lobby

A financial institution’s lobby is a key starting point for crimes that take place inside the facility. Interior cameras, strategically placed personnel, and video analytics can help detect and deter crime in the lobby.

Interior cameras should be an integral part of a facilities security strategy. Key camera and monitor locations include the lobby overview, each entry/exit door, and new accounts desk/area.

The presence of staff in key lobby areas often deters criminal activity. Ideally, a security officer or greeter should be in the facility’s lobby to provide ongoing observation of entry into the facility, as well as activity at the teller line.

6. Teller area

The teller area remains one of the most targeted—and most vulnerable—areas of a facility. Financial institutions must remain vigilant in their efforts to secure this area from traditional and emerging threats.

Location is fundamental to securing the teller area. Teller lines should be removed from front door entry points. And tellers should have visibility to access and departure routes to and from their lines.

Branches with high cash and/or transaction volume should consider cash dispenser technology, which can reduce the overall cash exposure at the teller line.

The use of gates can help segregate and secure the area behind the teller line. In addition, cameras can deter criminals, as well as provide a reviewable record of activity in the event of a breach. A minimum of one camera is recommended for each teller station.

Tellers must be able to activate an alarm when needed. All teller stations with cash must have the ability to trip the alarm system in a safe and discreet fashion. Wireless hold-up buttons and bill traps can provide additional flexibility when securing the teller area.

Security strategies can also be leveraged to thwart fraud at the teller line. Policies and procedures should be developed and enforced for verifying the identity of both consumers who are affiliated with the credit union and those who are not.

The use of biometric technologies (i.e., fingerprint programs and facial recognition) can be employed for verification and assistance in flagging suspicious consumers.

7. Vaults and cash room safes

While vaults and cash room safes may be more challenging targets for criminal activity than other areas of the facility, the sheer magnitude of the assets they protect mean they still require fundamental protection.

Because a vault is typically the only piece of equipment in the branch that will never be replaced, it’s critical to select a vault that will meet your long-term needs. The efficacy of a vault is measured in terms of how long it would take to penetrate.

Experts recommend a minimum of a Class II vault, which could keep a perpetrator at bay for 60 minutes—more than twice the duration of a Class I vault. Class II vaults that are UL-certified can store up to $5 million.

Vault doors should be equipped with time locks that are regularly serviced. The time lock is critical to ensure no one can gain access through any lock manipulation whether manual or robotic.

Both vault doors and safes require alarm devices. At a minimum, they should be protected by door contacts and thermostat alarms. And cameras should be positioned at vault entrance/exit locations to enable monitoring of vault activity.

Consider self-service solutions, such as electronic vault attendants, to simplify the management of safe-deposit vault doors. Such solutions provide added convenience for consumers and they eliminate the expense of a vault attendant, enabling branch personnel to focus on core competencies.

8. ATMs

Consider three points of protection at the ATM:

  1. Secure the consumer. Security features such as ATM location, lighting, built-in cameras, and mirrors can help protect the consumer from attacks at the ATM.
  2. Secure the ATM. Brute-force attacks against ATMs still take place. From drills to torches to bombs to trucks that can literally tear machines from their locations, resourceful criminals will use any means possible to gain access to the funds inside an ATM.
  3. Secure cardholder and transaction information. The latest encryption technology is vital to ensuring the protection of personal identification numbers and sensitive transaction data.

For more information, visit Diebold’s website.