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Financial firms need security that keeps pace with disruption

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Financial institutions are typically large, complex entities. They have one key requirement when it comes to security – the solutions they select have to last the distance.
This means they need to be able to evolve rapidly, integrate easily with other systems, and be flexible, adapting to the changing needs of the business, writes Neil Cameron, Johnson Controls area GM: building efficiency – Africa.
In a sector where change and disruption are key factors, and technology and cyber threats are advancing apace, these are critical requirements.
Financial institutions have a substantial footprint with lots of real estate, large distribution networks, a sizeable staff complement and multiple huge datacentres — the engine rooms at the core of their business. A high level of digital disruption in this sector has seen new business models emerge, ushering in new, more digital and virtual means of engaging with customers, and a bigger focus on customer experience.
This has made securing the business, its assets, people and customers a multifaceted challenge. Are there security solutions that can keep pace with transformation in this sector?

Physical, logical and virtual systems converge
For many of financial organisations, operational efficiency, securing cost efficiency and risk management remain a high priority. As physical, logical and virtual systems converge, assets, information and people are under threat. To achieve greater control and lower risk, the consolidation of systems and efforts to achieve standardisation across these organisations have become increasingly important.
The IT environment is far from stable as technology continues to leapfrog ahead. CCTV systems, for example, have evolved from using local storage for footage to using network storage, from running analytics on the server to enabling analytics on the network device, and from providing a single camera view to providing multiple simultaneous views. At the same time, legacy systems must be incorporated. With multiple protocols and formats to accommodate, a standardised environment where, for example, end-to-end encryption is enabled, is vital.
How does consolidation and standardisation drive tighter security? Consider this: whether in a backwater town or major city centre, every branch of a bank presents the same level of risk in that each provides access to the bank’s core systems. Security thus must be applied in a consistent manner across geographies and facilities, regardless of relative perceptions of risk.
Similarly, banking organisations often have personnel moving between branches and banking divisions. With larger banks employing more than 100,000 staff across hundreds of branches, this can be a security nightmare, especially as banking halls become more ‘open’ to customers and it becomes more difficult to identify staff and manage access to restricted areas.
With increased threats to data, assets and people, it is critical that the security systems in place be able to work together to manage identity and access, placing a single consistent layer of protection across the organisation, regardless of facility type or geography.
Such a system would, for example, ensure each employee only needed a single security card (rather than multiple cards for multiple sites) that would grant them access to specific areas based on their security level – e.g., to restricted areas but not to strongboxes. It would also work at a logical level, denying network access to someone who tries to sign in from one location while being logged in at another.
It’s clear why leading control and security solutions that have a large research and development component, clear roadmaps, a proven track record and global recognition are gaining favour among financial organisations. However, advanced features and high levels of integration with other systems are also paying off in other ways.

Security smooths the way
Financial institutions function in a highly competitive environment where customer service and the customer experience is a differentiator. This has seen facilities introduce couches and ticketing systems in banking halls. With security systems sharing the banking network with these systems, it’s not hard to see the synergies. For example, to improve floor operations, CCTV camera footage feeds logistics systems, alerting managers to where service bottlenecks may be forming and driving allocation of more consultants to particular areas.
As physical, logical and virtual systems continue to converge, ensuring a single consistent risk and security policy will be very important. Any new security systems or features will require forethought. Ensuring that their security systems are open, integrate easily with other systems, and constantly evolve, enabling the organisation to make use of new and emerging technologies, will position banks well to secure their people, customers and assets in physical and virtual environments.
Johnson Controls’ recent acquisition of Tyco brings together multi-industry building control products and services with exceptional fire and security solutions. A key feature of the deal is that it positions the company to drive new innovations in technology and business models to support the smart buildings, campuses and cities of the future, as well as build upon strategic, high value-added services driven by data analytics and connectivity.
As businesses continue to evolve with the help of technology, the goal is to build even smarter, more secure and more sustainable environments. Smart solutions that harness new technologies and emerging approaches will create a firm foundation for growth and competitiveness.