How video surveillance can secure ATMs against physical attacks

How video surveillance can secure ATMs against physical attacks

ATM security is an important topic addressed by international organizations such as ATMIA (ATM Industry Association) and EAST (European ATM Security Team). Attacks on ATMs can be divided to physical attacks, trying to reach the cash stored inside the ATM safe or fraud attempts.

“There are also many identical ATM units, which means that robbers can optimize their modus operandi and come up with faster and more successful ways to rob ATMs.” 

- Pieter D. de Vlaam, Training and Certification Manager, Gunnebo

“Originally, starting in the 60s, physical security for ATMs was underdeveloped. Attacks soon started, as ATMs are spread around the globe, containing large quantities of cash and sitting close to public space. There are also many identical ATM units, which means that robbers can optimize their modus operandi and come up with faster and more successful ways to rob ATMs,” explained Pieter D. de Vlaam, Training and Certification Manager at Gunnebo, one of the world’s largest suppliers of ATM safes.

According to de Vlaam, attacks on ATMs went through several stages of evolution. The first wave of attacks included breaking open the ATM with simple tools such as hammers and chisels — manufacturers answered the challenge by developing and implementing better safes. However, robbers did not sit still and developed new methods of operations.

“In the second stage the robbers started using torches and grinders, and eventually started gas blasting, a method in which robbers pry open the cash dispensing slot and pump gas into the ATM. The gas then detonates and blows apart the ATM from the inside giving the robbers access to the cash,” described de Vlaam. The next generation of attacks involves usage of solid explosives like Gelignite and PETN. Safe manufacturers are currently racing against robbers to provide adequate protection against the use of solid explosives.

Video Surveillance

ATM fraud and skimming
Many criminals resort to fraud attempts, using stolen
cards or stealing card data using skimming techniques.

Video surveillance is used extensively in ATM vestibules to record and detect fraud attempts. ATM surveillance equipment such as cameras and recorders needs to comply with specific small form factors and sometimes harsh environmental conditions.

“There are three key requirements from video systems deployed in a banking environment. The first is central data integration, which guarantees that transaction data always resides behind secure firewalls in the corporate datacenter, in an environment compliant with the bank data and network operating policies. The second is real-time enterprise health management, so that system issues can be notified within seconds, and this ensures the video is up and running at all times. Finally, centralized management which enables the management of thousands of recorders from a single desktop in one location,” explained Karl Pardoe, Regional Sales Manager for UK and Ireland in March Networks.

However, besides the technical challenge, a successful solution requires the ability to interface with the bank’s transaction database to be able to detect fraud and provide a comprehensive security solution. “Our solution associates transactions in ATMs with the relevant video recording. When a suspicious transaction is detected by the bank, video feed can be quickly queried and accessed to assist investigation,” explained Cristina Velasco, Marketing Executive at Spain-based SCATI. “In addition to preventing fraud, it can also raise an immediate alarm in the event of physical aggression and sabotage at ATMs.”

Woody Chang, Marketing Manager at QNAP Systems added, “In some cases, the video surveillance system is also tied to an alarm system and security system. For example the alarm can trigger a safety gate closing or release some irritant spray.”

Video solutions for ATMs include compact recorders, discreet pinhole cameras and a VMS platform which offers centralized management. The VMS integrates the video from the ATMs and from inside the branches, delivering a centralized security management platform for the entire branch network. Branches can also be integrated on the national level and video viewed from a central location.

An additional benefit of the video system is improving the bank’s operational effectiveness. “Data such as people counts, queue length counts/times, and dwell times from the megapixel dome camera can be incorporated into intelligent dashboards, which provide meaningful insight on occupancy, speed of service, and customer interest,” explained Pardoe.

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