Security for banks can be a real challenge when faced with a multitude of threats including fraud, theft and physical attacks. One bank which is setting new standards in the Middle East, when it comes to the application of surveillance technology to keep its infrastructure, staff and customers safe and secure, is National Bank of Kuwait (NBK). This is thanks to the roll-out of a surveillance solution from Dedicated Micros - part of AD Group - which is focused on the centralized monitoring of all of its branches and critical ATM infrastructure.
Awarded the Best Bank in the Middle East 2010 accolade by EuroMoney, NBK, which was incorporated in 1952 as the first indigenous bank in the entire Gulf region, remains the preeminent banking institution in Kuwait as well as being an established banking franchise across the Middle East and supporting a large branch network, spanning 17 countries including many of the financial and business centers.
Dedicated Micros connection with National Bank of Kuwait stretches back over four years. The catalyst for the surveillance specialist being brought on board for this ambitious ATM protection project was the bank's dissatisfaction with the surveillance solutions it tested from other providers. A spokesperson for the Engineering Services Division, NBK, takes up the story: "We looked at and tested several brands of DVRs as potential answers to our pressing ATM surveillance needs before deciding to go with Dedicated Micros. The solutions that fell by the wayside were simply too cumbersome and complicated in terms of all the extra equipment that would have been required to activate the functionality we wanted. This was in stark contrast to Dedicated Micros which was able to meet our needs based around an effective hardware-based package."
Said Salim Idris, General Manager (Middle East), Dedicated Micros: "When contacted by NBK we were delighted to assist Kuwait's banking establishment, not only were we able to demonstrate that we had the solutions available that could address the specific requirements head-on without lots of add-ons, but could also point to an unparalleled track record." "To put our extensive experience, protecting the banking sector into some sort of context across the Gulf Cooperation Council area alone, we can count 10 major banks in Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as customers. Significantly, as our surveillance systems are embedded, rather than PC based, they are recognized for their stability essential in the banking environment whereas PC dependent solutions have a reputation for crashing without warning."
Looking in more detail at the systems from Dedicated Micros which have been put in place at NBK since 2006, the system supports the effective monitoring of vital local and overseas ATM-related infrastructure. These comprise 28 individual units which are used primarily to protect standalone ATM with numbers expected to rise as part of the ongoing ATM project. There are also 145 DVRs, with typically two systems connected at each National Bank of Kuwait branch and an associated RAID unit giving additional storage capacity to the existing internal hard disk of the DVR.
This set-up offers redundancy and resilience to ensure any recorded video images are securely stored. In the case of the larger Dubai branch this combination was doubled up and four were installed at NBK's extensive Bahrain site.
To help with the management of the geographically dispersed surveillance infrastructure, at an early stage, Dedicated Micros was called upon to assist NBK in the setting-up of centralized monitoring from a control room. This was achieved by deploying VMS to allow operators to view distributed images from any product.
The ATM units specified for the NBK project are designed to work within the confines of an AT M. Certainly the security challenges with regards to banking are felt when it comes to the safe operation of ATMs whose accessibility makes them a convenient target for card skimming, shoulder surfing and even physical theft from customers. It is surveillance systems, specifically accessible DVRs that are at the heart of efforts to deal with these types of threat.
The ATM unit is able to process transaction data which is recorded with video footage. Post event analysis provides video imagery of the ATM user and the associated transaction information. For NBK this allows security staff to deal with any fraudulent activity and ensures that customer services representatives are placed to resolve any customer withdrawal disputes. Marrying up the DVRs with RAID units at every NBK branch, also facilitated the effective monitoring of each location including the in-branch ATMs not covered by the ATMs. Within this case, the cameras in the ATMs connected to the DVRs which had been specifically programmed to have the capability to associate transaction data with the appropriate video footage. The ability of both the ATM systems and DVRs, deployed for the NBK project, to apply Dedicated Micros' technology to record evidential quality M-JPEG locally and simultaneously support low bit rate data streaming in MPEG-4 compression format for remote viewing has proved to be advantageous in keeping bandwidth demands on NBK's network to an absolute minimum. Local recording including the additional capacity provided by the RAID units has the added benefit that even in the event of a network failure, recording is not interrupted or vital evidence lost.
"The solution from Dedicated Micros we have adopted has given us the opportunity to monitor all of our branches remotely 24/7 wherever they might be and to cover a large number of ATMs 181 at the latest count through the ATM transactions interface," said a spokesperson for the Engineering Services Division, NBK. "We have been very pleased with the performance of the viewing software over the past four years as it has made it easy to retrieve footage and to playback recordings over the network. With numerous cases involving ATMs reported on a daily basis and with the Dedicated Micros' solution in place, we have been able to provide recorded footage to offer proof of what has happened. In practice, we have found the speed that video can be delivered across the network to be favorable for management and archiving, when set against the limited bandwidth provided."
"The distributed architecture of the solution has also meant that even, when there has been a network issue, critical recording has been able to continue unabated. Testament to this is the fact that since the start of the project no footage has been lost in this way. A major benefit we have also seen, in terms of cost of ownership, is the fact that from an Engineering Services' point of view the DVRs have been easier to maintain, compared to what was in place before and we have been impressed with the stability of the DVRs in operation with zero reported failures. Alongside this the web-based configuration for the Dedicated Micros' systems has proved to be intuitive."