Banking on Access Control

Some organizations treat their brands as ads or marketing campaigns. But for South Carolina Federal Credit Union, “Life Simplified” is more than just a slogan. The financial institution’s brand promise permeates its Web presence, involvement in the community, internal systems and interaction with members. Understanding the need to live a more simplified life even impacts the credit union’s security strategy.

During more than 70 years in business, South Carolina Federal has grown to include 23 branches serving more than 150,000 members in nine South Carolina counties. This growth brought with it multiple security partners and disparate, overly complicated security systems that exposed the credit union to additional risk and left too much room for human error.

In 2007, the credit union evaluated its security strategy for access control. It concluded that numerous partners, disparate systems and multiple points of control for management of these partners and systems was not a “Life Simplified” solution. To the contrary, the system lacked the efficiency and flexibility that South Carolina Federal wanted to characterize all of its processes. Therefore, the credit union sought to identify a single security partner that could deliver a comprehensive access management solution that had to enhance security, simplify management, provide access to security data, deliver ROI and be flexible enough to enable growth.

Diebold’s Managed Access Control was created to do just that. Combining physical access control with remote management and monitoring, the solution gives South Carolina Federal Credit Union control of who accesses its facilities, as well as when and where those users have access.

Janece Van Wart, risk manager for South Carolina Federal Credit Union, says Diebold worked closely with the organization to customize the solution to its needs. “Our biggest desire for the system was customization, and we got it with Managed Access Control,” she says. “We have some very interesting and unique demands, and we worked closely with Diebold to come up with a solution that would achieve our objectives.”

Enhancing Security
Even with today’s sophisticated security technologies, many organizations still use keys and basic alarm systems to control who has access to their assets.

For South Carolina Federal Credit Union, the use of keys created security vulnerabilities. If a key was lost or stolen, there was no way to determine who might have access to the branch. Rekeying — including reissuing keys to employees — was a necessity and an unbudgeted expense.

With the Diebold system, keys became a thing of the past. The credit union replaced those keys with identification cards and key fobs, which were programmed to grant access to resources such as facilities, equipment and data. If a card or fob is lost or stolen, or if they are not returned by an employee who leaves the company, they can be deactivated instantly, ensuring they will not create a gap in security if they get into the wrong hands.

Once the credit union eliminated keys, it also added access control devices throughout its branches. Now, it can better manage access to specific areas of the branch such as vaults and back-office areas such as the employee break room.

“In this day and age, we needed a more secure environment,” Van Wart says. “And because we don’t have to cut keys or worry about replacing them in the case of loss or theft, it’s also a big cost savings. In the long run, the ease of the operation will be worth its weight in gold.”

Gaining Control
With 23 branches and nearly as many systems, Security Officer Brett Cole had to cover a lot of ground. Managing the organization’s security meant visiting a variety of locations and departments — different areas managed different aspects of the legacy access control systems.

“We needed a system that was easy to manage and that would be contained in one area, instead of spread throughout the entire organization,” Cole says.

With the new system, Cole can quickly execute tasks such as the issuance of identification cards for new employees. Under the old system, he had to send employees to the credit union’s IT department, which took time. Today, Cole enters information directly into a Diebold-hosted software program. Cards are issued on the spot, and employees are ensured instantaneous access to facilities and other resources.
The credit union also needed a solution that would enable it to control access to alarms, doors, vaults and more from a central location, while allowing remote access to important management tools.
The Diebold solution allows for alarms to be set remotely and by individual zones. Security personnel can now lock entry points to the credit union based on a pre-determined schedule, while providing employees and partners such as the cleaning staff access to various areas of the building after hours. The credit union knows its assets are safe and secure, instead of wondering if it will be vulnerable to a breach if cleaning crews forget to set alarms when they leave.

The system also includes a secure, Web-based interface that facilitates management functions such as disarming access cards, assigning or changing access levels, programming scheduled door locks and unlocks and more. And because the solution includes remote monitoring, South Carolina Federal Credit Union has a new layer of security through around-the-clock monitoring that includes the supervision of authorized access and door propping. Diebold’s Event Monitoring Center not only assesses the nature of alarms and intrusions, but also takes appropriate action by following protocols set by the credit union.
“Today, we can remotely turn alarms on and off with a simple phone call,” Cole says. “It saves time and it saves trips. It’s very convenient.”

Accessing Data
The Web-based interface gives South Carolina Federal Credit Union point-and-click access to a variety of security data. Report-generation software enables security personnel to view real-time details about who accesses their sites and when, as well as reports about time, attendance and scheduling.

“I’ve gained the ability to do things like track our inventory of ID cards and fobs, as well as run reports about activity,” Cole says. “I no longer have to rely on other departments for that information.”
Cole says reports are especially helpful when the credit union experiences an alarm event after normal business hours. If a branch manager is informed of an alarm late at night and he or she is not sure who is supposed to be in the branch, the system can help answer questions. Reports can pinpoint a specific time period and confirm who is supposed to be in the facility. They can also reveal where an employee or partner is within the facility, when they entered, how long they were there and whether they followed entry or exit protocols. And because this data can help identify the cause of alarm events, it can also help eliminate false alarms.

Realizing Cost Savings, Increasing Efficiencies
There’s no doubt false alarms can be a burden on the time and resources of an organization’s security personnel. But false alarms aren’t just about operational inconveniences. Depending on local regulations, they can come with a hefty price tag. Today, many jurisdictions levy fines against organizations with multiple false alarms.

In a 30-day period preceding the writing of this story, South Carolina Federal Credit Union experienced only one false alarm in the branches that have already been converted to the new system.
The transition to a keyless approach — in addition to enhancing security — has also resulted in tangible cost savings. “When we have terminations, or when keys are lost or stolen, we don’t have to worry about changing the locks or re-issuing keys,” Van Wart says. “In the long term, that will account for significant cost savings.”

Cole adds that the efficiency of the system results in additional savings by enabling security personnel to focus on their core responsibilities. “Our legacy systems forced us to waste valuable staff time waiting for information to load or waiting for processes to be completed,” he says. “Now, all it takes is a click of the mouse — we don’t have to pay staff to sit there waiting for things to happen.”

Enabling Growth
Two South Carolina Federal Credit Union branches and one internal department are already leveraging the Diebold system. The credit union is in the midst of a multi-year plan to roll out the solution to every branch location, as well as to all departments in its corporate facility. As new branches are added, Managed Access Control will be incorporated from the day the doors open.
Van Wart says the ability to customize the solution will ensure it remains relevant throughout the conversion process. “We’re starting relatively slowly and converting our branches one at a time,” she says. “The solution has been completely customizable to our needs. There is so much we can do with it, which will allow it to evolve as we continue to grow.”

Jacqueline Grimm is the director of monitoring solutions and Larry Black is the director of financial security solutions for Diebold, a global security integrator headquartered in Canton, Ohio.