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Top Security Techniques That Work For The Masters

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Banks know security just about better than anyone. Find out what they can teach you about safeguarding your small business.

Security is a journey, not a destination. This is a security industry axiom that means we can strive for security, and by making this effort, we can put ourselves on a path to security. But while we may achieve a relative degree of security, our businesses will never be 100 percent secure—the destination we all strive for. Even Fort Knox, the White House and the New York Stock Exchange are vulnerable.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to reach our destination. In order to protect our businesses, we can apply strategies that significantly reduce our risk level. One of the best security techniques is layering. Layers of security make a criminal’s job more difficult, as they are forced to address all the vulnerabilities in our business.

Helen Keller once said, “Security is an illusion; life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Her quote has significance, although it’s not entirely accurate. That's because security is part illusion and part theater. The illusion, like a magic act, seems believable in many cases.

Security theater, on the other hand, refers to security intended to provide a sense of security while not entirely improving it. The theater gives the illusion of impact. Both play a role in deterring criminals, but neither can provide 100 percent security, as complete security is unattainable. Hence, security is a journey, not a destination.

Banks know security, both the illusion and the theater. They have to, because robbers target these buildings daily. Because banks want to promote a friendly and inviting environment, consumers are mostly oblivious to the various layers of security that financial institutions utilize to protect their bank accounts. And that's not a bad model to follow.

What Banks Know About Security

Banks have multiple layers of security. The perimeter of most banks are often designed to include large windows, so passersby and law enforcement can easily see any problems occurring inside. The bank’s doors also have locks. There is, of course, an alarm system, which includes panic buttons, glass-break detectors and motion sensors. These are all layers, as are the security cameras, bulletproof glass and armed guards. Ideally, the tellers and members of management should have robbery-response training. Many banks also use dye packs or GPS devices to track stolen cash.

All banks have safes, because banks know that a well-constructed safe is the ultimate layer of security. A safe not only makes it extremely difficult for a bank robber to steal the bank’s money, but it also protects the cash in the event of a fire.

And then there are the multiple layers of computer security. The basics include antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and firewalls. However, there are numerous additional layers of protection that monitor who is accessing data and why, and numerous detectors that look for red flags which indicate possible identity theft.

Banks also recognize that a simple username/password is insufficient, so they require their clients to adopt multifactor authentication. Multifactor authentication is generally something the user knows, such as a password or answers to knowledge-based questions, plus something the user has, such as a smart card, token or additional SMS password, and/or something the user is, such as identification through a biometric fingerprint, facial recognition, hand geometry or iris scan. In its simplest forms, multifactor authentication occurs when a website asks for a four-digit security code from a credit card or installs a cookie on your machine, or when a bank requires a client to add a second password to his or her account. Some institutions also offer or require a key fob that provides a changeable second password (a one-time password) to access accounts, or it might require a reply to a text message in order to approve a transaction.

Every layer of protection the bank adds is designed to make it harder for a criminal to get paid.

Consider a layered approach for your small-business security plan. Think about the current layers of business protection you have in place, and then consider how many more layers you might want to install to ensure a seamless customer experience and a security-minded culture.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

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