A Q&A interview with NICE Banking Sector Expert Erez Goldstein
Consolidation in the banking industry has its upsides…and some downsides as well, especially when it comes to managing physical security. In this Q&A interview, Erez Goldstein, Banking Sector Senior Product Marketing Manager for NICE Systems, shares his perspective on the security challenges facing the banking industry, and how Situation Management can help.
What are some of the trends and challenges that are driving an increased interest in Situation Management solutions in the banking sector?
Erez Goldstein: The first thing that comes to mind is that banks are distributed environments and with the trend toward consolidation, particularly in the U.S. market, banks have ever more sites and resources to manage. There’s a definite trend toward fewer independent bank brands and more branches per brand. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) the number of commercial banks in the US declined from over 12,000 in 1990 to less than 7000 in 2010. Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As) may create business synergies, but they also create complexity as banks have to absorb new technologies and outdated legacy systems across multiple vendors. For example, it’s not uncommon to see mega banks having to manage over 12 different access control systems, and that’s just one example.
Bank consolidation is also creating a highly distributed environment which means bank security control centers have more sites and data to monitor and manage. A single security control center could well have thousands of facilities, tens or even hundreds of thousands of sensors, data feeds and phone calls to monitor and manage. Add to this a backdrop of increasing regulation. (Banking is among the most highly regulated industries in the world, and some of these regulations affect physical security.) Enforcing these regulations across a large organization is challenging enough, but when you factor in that bank branches are highly distributed geographically, it’s easy to see the huge hurdles bank security executives face.
A final factor is the sheer complexity and scope of threats and security challenges that banks need to deal with – everything from vandalism and cyber theft to ATM robberies and money laundering. In recent years, criminals have become more sophisticated. So banks need to up the ante in terms of their threat prevention/detection tools. There are just too many systems, sensors, branches and personnel to manage the old fashion way. There’s a desperate need to make order from this chaos, and that’s where Situation Management comes in.
How specifically do Situation Management solutions help?
Erez Goldstein: One obvious benefit is in the area of investment protection. Banks that consolidate through M&As typically centralize their security operations for operational efficiency and savings. In the past, this would have meant extensive custom integration, or ‘rip and replace’ of existing technology, which can be very expensive. Situation Management offers a better alternative. It uses gateways to aggregate information from different legacy systems into a common, seamless interface. This has a two-fold benefit: banks can leverage their existing technology investments, and at the same time achieve a common operating picture across all of their geographically dispersed locations. By cross-correlating data, the Situation Management solution generates alerts when pre-defined conditions are met, making security operators aware of exactly what’s happening and where. Dynamic workflows and built-in escalation mechanisms ensure that the right actions are taken in any threat scenario.
Can you give me some examples?
Erez Goldstein: Sure, one example would be to use Situation Management to monitor all of the panic buttons across every bank branch in the network. Let’s say a branch was robbed and an employee pushed a panic button. That would automatically generate an alert in the security control center. A map would pop up on the security operator’s screen showing the exact location of the alarm, along with relevant video, highlighting step-by-step emergency procedures for the operator to follow. Relevant information could instantly be routed to bank security management, local law enforcement or other responders in the field. Depending on the situation, the Situation Management system could also automatically activate other systems, for example, to secure doors or to contact key personnel by phone, text or email.
By integrating intrusion detection, access control, video, GIS, and communications, and empowering security operators with automated response plans, Situation Management can also help banks better detect and handle security breaches. For example, an unauthorized access attempt at a data facility many thousands of miles away could trigger an alert in the control center, instantly presenting location information and relevant video of the would-be intruder, along with an associated access card photo for instant verification. Furthermore, all of this information could be captured and preserved for an ensuing investigation or compliance report.
Security operators could even be alerted to equipment issues, such as an ATM video camera failure or ATM failure, for fast troubleshooting and resolution. This is critical because in some states, such as New York, for instance, ATM security regulations require that a surveillance camera be installed and properly maintained for every ATM (ref: ATM Safety Act as required by Chapter 57 of the laws of 1998). Failure to meet such regulations could result in costly fines.
Asset tracking is another banking application for Situation Management. Because of the portability of bank bags, financial institutions are faced with the constant threat of money theft. According to the FBI’s Bank Crime Statistics, thousands of bank bags are stolen each year and less than half of the stolen funds are ever recovered. By integrating with location tracking systems such as GPS, RFID and blue force tracking, Situation Management technology can help track and monitor infinite numbers of far-flung and movable bank assets, including armored vehicles and bank bags.
These are just a few of the many applications and uses of Situation Management technology in banking environments.
I understand Millennium Bank in Portugal implemented Situation Management. What are they using it for?
Erez Goldstein: Yes, Portugal’s largest private bank, Millennium bcp, is using the NICE Situator open situation management solution to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of its physical security monitoring and response. The NICE solution is enabling the bank to reduce operational costs and optimize the alignment of its corporate physical security policies, standards and procedures across hundreds of branches in Portugal. NICE Situator is deployed on Millennium bcp’s corporate network and monitors approximately 900 branches and other buildings throughout Portugal. The NICE solution is integrated with a wide array of bank sensors and security systems, including video surveillance, access control, intrusion and fire alarm panels, fire detection systems, as well as VoIP, text messaging and email gateways. NICE Situator merges data from these sensors into a common operating picture, analyzing and correlating this information, then applying standard operating procedures and automated response plans.
The security situation management needs of banks such as Millennium bcp are many. Among these are intrusion, invalid access control and tampering, robberies, alarm panel communications failure and ‘Early Disarm’ and ‘Late Arm’ Situations. With NICE Situator, Millennium bcp can address these situations by receiving automatic alarms with information on what has occurred. The NICE solution does this by leveraging the existing Alarm Panels infrastructure and extracting additional intelligence from available data. The solution can also automatically connect a call between control room personnel and the appropriate individual at the relevant branch, or automatically place calls to external agencies if needed, such as local city police. Furthermore, it presents step-by-step instructions to the bank’s security personnel on how to handle specific situations.
Erez Goldstein is Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Banking Vertical for NICE Systems. He has close to a decade of experience in the security industry and holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from Tel Aviv University.
For more information on this topic you can contact Erez at firstname.lastname@example.org.