As criminals become smarter, your business must identify a variety of tools to combat their tactics. An effective security toolkit includes a thorough and scalable plan, applicable to banks, retail settings, nightclubs, restaurants, sporting and concert venues, and any other establishment in which safes exist and high volumes of cash transactions occur.
At Wittenbach, our physical and electronic security expertise can help equip your bank, credit union, or business with the knowledge and products that it takes to stay ahead of current criminal trends. Below, we will outline common methods of bank theft and how they are carried out today. We will also share recommendations on means of protection, aligning our physical and electronic security goals with yours to ensure the safekeeping of lives, valuables, and sensitive information within your bank. Please note that this is not legal advice, but it does come from deep, broad, and trusted security experience.
New types of theft threats facing banks, credit unions, and cash-heavy businesses
While the frequency of traditional movie-style robberies has curbed, other types of heists and criminal activities pose threats to both currency and human safety. The arrest rate for bank robberies in the U.S. is currently only 60%, which means that enhancing your branch’s security measures can prevent crime and also provide detection abilities to help bring criminals to justice. The preventive steps described below are also scalable, meaning that you can expand them across your entire institution’s footprint. This protects not just one branch, but a network of branches, which can leverage economies of scale when you purchase new technology and also can share access to cloud-based data across geographies.
- Traditional robberies: This style of financial theft ebbs and flows, having peaked in the early 1990’s. While traditional bank robberies have fallen out of fashion in recent years in favor of electronic crime, some in-person criminals do try to intrude and steal cash via brute force. When the economy slows, financial institution robberies increase, as does the rate of violence against people and property when these crimes occur. Most often, robbers start with a demand note, requesting cash from a teller before brandishing a weapon and escalating further.
Preventive measures can deter a robbery, such as installing Network Video Recorder (NVR) video surveillance systems, or training your employees to be alert to potentially suspicious behavior, sometimes even defusing it simply by greeting those who enter the premises, not allowing anyone to remain inconspicuous. Furthermore, products such as the Hyosung MS-500 Teller Cash Recycler (TCR) self-replenishes upon clients’ cash deposits instead of requiring frequent visits from an armored car cash-in-transit (CIT) service. Lastly, safes and vaults with timed locks, such as those in dormakaba’s Auditcon 2 Series, deter theft from internal and external criminals, as they only allow certain time windows for authorized entry.
- ATM/ITM attacks: Theft within Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) continues to take place in several ways, as this summary from the ATM Marketplace explains. The most discreet is skimming, in which a criminal installs a card reader on top of the machine’s, reading the magnetic strip and allowing criminals to remotely transmit card data and make new fraudulent cards. Shimming is a similar process, in which an illegally installed reader transmits data from a card’s chip to a remote criminal, instead of from the magnetic strip. Awareness is the best preventive method for skimming and shimming; your team should regularly check for loose fixtures on ATMs and ITMs, as well as additional hidden cameras that were installed onto the unit by criminals.
Two other robbery methods have become more prevalent in recent years, with criminals targeting ATMs and ITMs in rural or dimly lit areas, farther away from traffic and potential witnesses. The first, physical ATM robbery method is a hook-and-chain attack, in which criminals use a vehicle to try and pull open the front of an ATM or ITM. This not only leaves cash vulnerable, but completely destroys the unit, costing your branch in many financial ways, as well as in customer confidence. This type of attack can often be prevented by the placement of your ATM/ITM unit: firmly planted to the ground in good lighting, in a drive-thru lane with NVR video surveillance cameras. For freestanding ATMs, installing barriers on all three corners ensure that the unit cannot be removed.
- The second, physical ATM robbery, while rare, is by explosion; gas attacks can attempt to break open the front of the ATM or ITM, with the goal of exposing the cash cassettes inside. In a recent blog post, we advised at length how to prevent these explosive attacks, including purchasing units such as the Hyosung 8300 Series ITMs with a strengthened chassis, or neutralizing cash through ink-staining packs and sensors.
- Criminal collaboration: Tech-savvy criminals will facilitate a bank robbery by exploring best practices easily found on the internet! More and more, criminals around the world are sharing how they have identified and leveraged vulnerabilities in security systems. During a panel discussion in ATMIA conference in New Orleans, in early February, Matt Nollau, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, gave chilling examples of how today’s criminals are collaborating. From offering “classes on how to blow up ATMs” and sharing various tips and skills with each other, Matt described how some of these criminal communities have created tutorials online. As criminals amp up their techniques, it’s imperative for your business to heighten security measures, too. For example, with an NVR electronic surveillance system installed, it is important to encrypt both the Internet Protocol (IP) cameras that capture video footage of the premises, as well as the cloud-based storage space to which that footage is uploaded. Video footage can aid in apprehending criminals as well as identifying new methods of robbery techniques for future security solutions.
Since criminal activity continues to evolve, it is important to anticipate methods and nuances that are currently emerging. With up-to-date physical and electronic security tools at your disposal, your branch or business can secure valuables, protect assets and monitor the location like never before. Allow Wittenbach to be your beacon of security expertise. Contact us and our team can schedule an in-person or virtual tour, a consultation or a suite of resources and solutions to best protect your organization.