Why is physical security in bank ATMs so important?

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Physical security in a lot of ways is one of the more overlooked aspects of protecting a banking institution and it becomes glaringly projected in terms of ATM kiosk.

Hacking attempts, malware, identity theft, and even your basic insider threat - those are way intriguing stories, and they help information security (or logical security, if you prefer) to get the lion's share of attention.

Yet, as the national economy goes south, old-fashioned bank robberies are back in style, and ATM theft attempts are up, too. And then there's the arcane art of social engineering, in which bad guys disguise themselves as good guys and attempt to gain access to restricted areas by preying upon your employees' desire to be good customer servants.

When you think about it, there really are a lot of good reasons why physical security should be among your top priorities. This is exactly why we paid so much attention to the topic over the past month or so.

Bank robberies are up, ATMs are at risk

The misery of the Indian banking sector is not limited to the banks as even ATMs are not immune to incidents of theft and loot. Around Rs. 54 crore has already been lost in ATMs , in-branch, or in-transit phase for scheduled commercial banks and a few financial institutions (FIs) in the current fiscal year till December 2019. “This includes incidents such as burglary, dacoit, robbery, and theft,” Our present-day Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a reply to a question in Lok Sabha. Rs 54 crore is lost in 1092 such cases across the country. In the last three years, these incidents are on a rise. In FY18, Rs 44.25 crore was lost in 927 incidents of burglary, dacoit, robbery, and theft, while in FY19, Rs 68.45 crore was lost in 1302 such incidents.

To put a brake on such incidents leading to losses of banks, the RBI has issued a circular that was directed towards the security measures for ATMs. The circular says that the banks are to roll out a comprehensive e-surveillance mechanism at the ATMs to ensure timely alerts and quick response.

Protecting Your ATM from theft Smartly

Integrated surveillance security access control systems are being put in place to help banks receive alerts from ATMs across the country, be it someone breaking into an ATM in Palakkad or Ludhiana. All the monitoring happens from one point, depending on the company that sets up the system based on the bank's needs. The alert-based monitoring model is an integrated security access control system that involves an intrusion panel at its core with astute software that sounds an alarm for about 30 different kinds of physical activities inside the ATM, barring software or technical glitches in the ATM machine. It detects attempts to tamper with the cash vending machine and any unusual movement inside an ATM – such as a person staying inside for more than a few minutes — and throws up alerts at the control room. This helps someone or the control room operator to ask a customer through a microphone what he or she is looking for giving them the idea that someone is watching them live.

Although there is no precise data with regard to ATM crimes, industry interaction shows it is on the rise. While private sector banks are already installing alert-based surveillance and are expanding, public sector lenders are following them. The adoption of alert-based surveillance could actually bring down the costs of maintaining ATMs.

If the successive government's push to get the nation wired succeeds, better security at ATMs could also become a successful reality.

If you want to secure your systems, check out Smart I System’s innovative range of products.

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