The 2017 banking trend reports are out in abundance. It comes as little surprise that increased emphasis will be placed on all things digital. From more sophisticated firewalls to enhanced mobile interaction, investment in technology and digital solutions will continue to rise.


In the light of such expectations, however, some industry experts are sounding an alarm. They are warning banks and credit unions not to overlook the physical security risks that, as a recent FBI report, continues to rise. As financial institutions look forward to new potential revenue streams and relaxed regulations, they should also be looking at proactive ways to secure their branch locations and assets in the future.


Proactive Security Measures

Security experts and law enforcement professionals say the same thing. Most banks and credit unions do not consider a thorough review of their security systems until something goes wrong. In many instances, it takes a robbery, an ATM fraud or other security breach to make bank officials aware there is a hole in their vanguard.


An initiative-driven approach to planning bank security, before a crime occurs, will protect the bank’s assets as well as reputation.


Three Ways to Start Planning against Future Security Threats


It’s been said that being forewarned is forearmed. Nowhere is this more accurate than in regard to security planning. As security threats become more sophisticated and ubiquitous, banks and credit unions are benefitting from the industry best practice of creating proactive security measures. As financial institutions plan for improved security systems, there are three key areas that should be examined to help determine potential weaknesses and areas of future emphasis.


#1. External Data Clues

Banks and credit unions, regardless of size, can anticipate and plan for potential risks by studying often-overlooked, but readily-available external data. Information from local and regional police reports can provide insight into whether certain branch locations could be more vulnerable to threat than others. An examination of additional demographic and geographic information can provide a macro view of trends that could have an adverse impact on physical financial institutions.


Data gathered from national and industry crime reports can also be used to predict areas of security weakness. Are there certain days of the week or times of the day your bank is more susceptible to robbery than others? Does the placement of your ATM put it at greater risk for skimming? Is the latest social engineering trend prevalent in your region? Building preventative security measures to combat the likelihood of such data-driven threats can pay off in peace of mind and enhanced precautions.


#2. Internal Evaluations

The next place that can provide valuable clues as to what should be prioritized in a bank’s security plan is within the physical facility itself. A financial institution’s physical structure is often one of the most overlooked areas, simply because it is seen everyday. Employees may get used to rigging a faulty lock or overlooking an inoperative camera. Security experts agree, conducting a thorough evaluation of on-site security systems is one of the best ways to ensure facility,  employee and asset protection. Such  evaluations are generally categorized as security assessments and threat assessments.


A security assessment evaluates the functionality of all security systems and devices. Items that should be in full working order include:

  • Security lighting
  • Alarms
  • Access controls
  • Cameras
  • Vault safes
  • Perimeter & gates
  • Fire detectors and deterrents


A threat assessment, on the other hand, looks for potential weaknesses in the bank’s overall system and surroundings, not just the security equipment. A threat assessment asks questions like:

  • Are all entrances monitored?
  • Are employee IDs easily visible?
  • Do all windows provide unobstructed views of the bank’s interior?
  • Does the bank’s typography provide hidden entry points?
  • Can the ceiling’s ductwork be accessed from neighboring tenants?
  • Can customers easily view employee’s computer screens and keyboards?


A professional evaluation of a financial institution’s physical equipment, security devices and potential threats is foundational to building a solid security program for the future.


#3. The Human Element

It’s not unusual for bank managers and employees to be so close to their facility that they literally stop “seeing” potential security threats, especially when it comes to behavioral practices. Over time, strident security practices become relaxed or ignored. Old employees leave the company and fail to turn in their security cards. New employees are hired and not informed about document destruction protocol. Employees make a habit of leaving back doors propped open for a quick smoke break. Individually, each offense appear innocuous. But together, over time, these security lapses can create huge safety gaps.


A proactive approach to security must include a genuine evaluation of the “human factor.”



  • Do employees share their access credentials with coworkers?
  • Do employees regularly download software to company computers?


  • Do visitors have access to secured locations?
  • Are visitors required to have supervision while on premises?


  • Do guards randomly check briefcases, boxes or portable PCs to prevent unauthorized items from coming in or leaving?
  • Do guards allow visitors to bring laptop computers into the institution without proper signoff or authorization?


  • Have vendors been trained in proper security techniques?
  • Do after-hour cleaning staff maintain the same level of facility security as required during daily office hours?


The examples above are just a sampling of behavioral habits that should be evaluated as banks and credit unions consider security enhancement measures. Any planning for the future would be inadequate, however, if it didn’t also include an examination of a bank’s social engineering training.


As banks and credit unions across the nation gear up for the unknown security threats of the future, many are turning to experts like SPC Companies to help them chart the most efficient path. SPC Companies makes it their business to equip bank and credit union professionals with the resources they need to sleep better tonight, and into the future.