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Credit unions and physical security during COVID-19

May 15, 2020 / Consumer Banking

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught credit unions to expect the unexpected. This means having a plan to ensure business continuity, while simultaneously managing the day-to-operational challenges. Fraudsters do not rest during global pandemics, so it is imperative that a credit union’s security system doesn’t either.

Today’s leading credit unions are leveraging technology for both traditional and non-traditional security measures in the current climate. Here are three key ways that their physical security systems are helping them navigate a new normal.

1. Ensuring the system is operational and designed/functioning properly

Credit unions remain open for business, though with some restrictions in place. Visions Federal Credit Union continues to conduct business in the lobby with heightened sanitation requirements, while Delta Community Credit Union and Tinker Federal Credit Union allow for appointment-based lobby gatherings only.

A security system is only as valuable as its ability to function properly in the times that it’s needed most. This means ensuring that all features of the system are operating properly, such as capturing video for the right length of time and making sure all cameras are operational.

“Understanding where we are and where deficiencies are helps us stay in line in high risk areas and helps us stay on budget,” says Amie Reilly, Security & BSA Compliance Officer at Visions Federal Credit Union.

This is done through comprehensive system reporting, which provides audit and compliance trails that inform business decisions. Some solutions include detailed reports, which provide a holistic view of enterprise video operations and can be customized by DVR type or status to help organizations understand and address the causes of downtime. A security system in place that can identify such threats allows credit unions to focus on current issues – like the effects of COVID-19 – without sacrificing oversight of their system.


2. Thinking beyond physical security

Integrating cyber and physical security is paramount in today’s risk environment – this can be accomplished by designing a solution alongside an IT department and practicing proper protocols. Forward-thinking security providers can provide valuable support in ensuring cybersecurity is maintained through centralized firmware updates and simplified password management. These platforms also allow users to create powerful audit reports and manage user privileges, ensuring that cyber vulnerabilities are taken into consideration within a credit union’s physical security strategy.

“[It’s important to leverage technology] in a way that will not introduce more vulnerabilities than there were before,” said John Micue, Security and Safety Officer at Tinker Federal Credit Union. “We’re finding that being on the bleeding edge of security really becomes a hand-in-hand operation between our security area and IT area to make sure the equipment we’re putting in is solid, will work well, and can be secured.”

Beyond security, this convergence provides other valuable insight if analytics are in place, such as loitering alerts, facial recognition and more. With stimulus checks being released and credit unions preparing to be inundated by members, these analytics will prove invaluable in saving both time and money.

“We had some skimmer activity going on for a while, (so) we implemented facial recognition and loitering on ATM overhead cameras,” said Kim Hodgkin, Manager, Corporate Security at Delta Community Credit Union. “If a transaction takes over four minutes, that triggers a warning. It’s so much better than having branch managers look at a week’s worth of video and try to figure out what happened at the ATM.”


3. Ensuring resiliency and serviceability

In transitioning their staff to work from home, it’s important that credit unions maximize their system’s ability to automatically adjust and fix errors, such as an automatic reboot in the event that a camera is down. This automation, paired with the ability for remote diagnostics, has proven beneficial as institutions navigate an unprecedented landscape.

Such solutions allow users to rapidly scan the status of all DVRs on a user-friendly dashboard and verify that cameras have not been moved or their views obscured. They also help reinforce operational standards and uniformity in large-scale operations for more consistent, reliable performance. Being able to rely on your system during times of crisis, as well as receive remote support when necessary, positions credit unions to maintain high levels of physical security, even as on-site staff is reduced.

Risk mitigation is always top of mind for credit unions, so it is no wonder most are prepared to respond to any change to the risk landscape – even the most unprecedented. As credit unions across the world have moved toward reduced staffing and lobby changes to reflect current societal norms, having a security system in place that is poised to respond to evolving threats has proven exceptionally valuable.

Matt Tengwall is general manager, fraud and security solutions, at Verint.

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