A Survey of the Technological Innovations in Bank Security

Posted on March 24, 2013 by Nikhil P Naik

At the heart of the banking system is a fundamental reliance on its trust and security in the minds of its depositors. These institutions must provide adequate assurance to depositors entrusting them with their financial resources that the money is safe and accounted for on an around-the-clock basis. Any perception that a bank is vulnerable to theft or fraud can be fatal to an institution’s reputation and ultimate viability in the financial marketplace. Therefore, it is vital for banks to provide the highest possible security to protect the funds of their depositors.


Bank security has necessarily kept up with the pace of technological innovation in society in order to thwart any advantage modern-day bank robbers would have in pulling off heists of the magnitude that occurred in the 1930s by criminals like John Dillinger[Who is he?]. The tactics used by Dillinger and his associates during the Depression era often involved brute force and physical violence.

Bank robbers of today are technologically savvy and have kept pace with online banking advancements. As a response, innovations in banking security to counter these criminals have constantly evolved with the times. Essentially, the persistent cutting edge growth in bank security has transformed the industry in three key areas: physical security of depository funds, surveillance, and cyber security.

Physical Security of Depository Funds

Physical Security of Depository Funds

The bank vault and safe deposit boxes have always been mainstays in any bank, but the technology involved in their modern equivalents makes them much more impenetrable and alert to potential intrusion. Significantly, one of the biggest breakthroughs for physical banking security occurred with the proliferation of ATMs – Automated Teller Machines – in the 1970s. By combining physical security of a bank vault with the computerized mechanical ability of the machines to verify depositor identity through bankcards and numeric codes, thus being able to reliably dispense the proper funds, the ATM provided higher security while altering the relationship between banks and their customers.

Technology continues to play a vital role in vaults, safe deposit boxes, and ATMs by the remarkable innovations in sensors. Modern physical security for banks’ funds include such innovations as magnetic field, door position, and shock sensor systems, in addition to heat, motion, and temperature detectors. These advancements can preemptively alert or disrupt any potential threats to ensure the security of bank funds.



Federal law began requiring banks to use closed circuit surveillance cameras in the 1960s as a method of identifying criminals and providing law enforcement with evidence in bank robberies. The use of surveillance cameras also serves the dual purpose of deterring bank robberies by their mere presence in lobbies, entrances, teller windows, and ATMs. Identity verification and identity theft protection are related components of surveillance by banks, requiring government-issued photo identification cards, personal identification numbers, and fingerprints for many financial transactions.

Cyber Security

Cyber SE

The greatest innovations in banking security are the ones keeping up with the evolving nature of the industry’s transformation to the digital age. Cyber security is the priority for banks that are increasingly interacting with their depositors and borrowers through online banking, mobile phones, and bankcard account numbers. The threats are so serious that both the banking industry and the federal government address the critical topic of cyber security in the financial system by issuing research papers and guidelines for compliance.

The modern John Dillinger are more likely to be armed with a computer than a gun and they do not even have to step foot inside a bank in order to steal millions. Banks understand the new reality and are even responding with government partnerships to ensure that the funds of their depositors remain safe.

Author Byline: Donald Crater is a freelancer focusing on finance, credit, credit repair, banking, banking security, business and commerce and other related matters; to learn more about credit visit kelcreditrepair.com.

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About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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