Bank Security : From Brawn to Brain

Reported by: |Updated: May 22, 2017

Banks Continue to face to robberies and attacks.Physical security heads have envisioned smart solutions to deter criminals:

The violence in Kashmir has now extended to the banking sector. Since the end of October 2016,armed robbers have struck at bank branches in the state looting nearly `92 lakh in 13 separate attacks. There have been 4 incidents in 4 days  in  May 2017 alone, beginning with the bloody attack on a cash van on 1 May. Five policemen and 2 bank security guards lost  their  lives  in  these  attacks.  Apart from  the  highly  publicized  incidents  in Kashmir,  there  continue  to  be  robbery attempts at bank branches, ATMs and CIT vans all over the country. Some are stealth attempts and some are violent attempts. All these incidents highlight the need for banks to continually upgrade their security to protect thier employees, customers, cash and other asets. This cover story looks at the spectrum of threats and the measures and overall strategy that banks have planned or undertaken in response.

Yes, physical security has graduated today from the mere positioning of gun carrying security  person  at  the  doors,  electronic surveillance and digital locks, to include biometrics, concepts like bringing physical and logical security processes under one single platform and assessment of the risks involved and prepare plans to mitigate the vulnerabilities. Handling physical security today requires a deep understanding of the threat, the vulnerabilities that there may be to the threats, the impact these threats would make and how these threats could be treated. If not managed properly, it can seriously affect a bank’s operations, cause serious  reputational  damage  and  even result  in  physical  injuries  to  staff.  And physical security should no longer be seen only as protecting the assets of banks, but also in protecting the bank’s operations.


While  phishers  and  fraudsters  may  be capturing the headlines, the old-fashioned bank robbers are still stealing cash. How can technology help foil a bank robbery? “The  banks  have  taken  strong preventative measures against prospective bank robbers by physical electronic barriers and  remote  e-surveillance,”  says  Capt Jagmohan Mehta (Retd), head – Facilities Administration  –  Corporate  Services  at IndusInd Bank. “Deterring bank robbers continues to be a balancing act between creating a welcoming environment for the customers and maintaining strict security measures for miscreants. Firstly, having a well-informed and prepared staff to deal with holdups, secondly adding e-layers of alarm systems, auto dialers coupled with high-tech  cameras  and  other  tracking devices,  are  effective  in  helping  law enforcement officials catch bank robbers after a robbery is done,” says he.

According  to  Lt  Col  Rohit  Shukla (Retd), Chief Security Officer, IDBI Bank, the good old proverb that ‘The man behind the  gun  matters’  somehow  still  holds good even today. “Though some may have divergent views, I am of a firm belief that technology is a force multiplier and offers lot  of  promise  to  augment  the  physical guarding, alerting, detecting, forewarning of an impending threat to the bank branch but  for  the  present,  cannot  completely replace the human guard. Depending on the detailed threat perception quotient of a particular branch/premises, an effective and  more  importantly  an  economically balanced security and safety solution can be designed, incorporating technology in a big way,” he emphasizes.


He says the primary electronic and electrical gadgets available in the present times can be gainfully deployed in a combination. These include: (i) laser beam boundary system, after closing till reopening of the branch. Any motion or cutting of the beam by a burglar will trigger an instant alarm; (ii) motion sensors; (iii) night vision-enabled CCTV systems, though effective only for post crime investigation and to some extent to work as a deterrent; (iv) burglar alarms; and (v) other electronically motion-initiated alarm systems.

Col K.C. Padhy (Retd), CSO and DGM, Bank of Maharashtra, too feels use of latest equipment like vibration sensors, PIRs, magnetic sensors, standalone IR camera with inbuilt memory capability, ultra-sensitive fire alarm system with requisite number of fire/ smoke detectors are effective tools in physical security.

Capt Mehta reiterates that physical security is not about only electronic security devices or guards; it is about evaluation of the security risk. “It requires a deep understanding of the threat, the vulnerabilities that there may be to any threats, the impact those threats would make if realized and how those threats could be treated to mitigate the risk. It is from this analysis that those senior executives and members of the board, who are tasked with managing and governing a bank can decide on what actions to take,” says he

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