Gulf Area Banks Beef up Security with Wireless Encryption System

ERF Wireless encryption solution being deployed with Motorola's broadband technology

CryptoVue devices are installed along with the Canopy radios at each bank branch in the network. The devices employ biometrically-controlled 3-DES data encrypted IPSec tunnels to encapsulate Layer 3 data LAN to LAN over the WAN network to each location. The devices also have a packet-filtering firewall to block the propagation of any traffic on the WAN network from any device other than a CryptoVue. The devices route encrypted packets of traffic to other authenticated CryptoVues on the WAN between the branch LANs and multiple internal LAN subnets across the network.

Iberville Bank President Larry Melsheimer says the deployment of his bank's new network directly addresses a number of financial operations issues. For example, Melsheimer's bank was paying $7,000 to $8,000 a month to interconnect its branches with T1s. Typical data throughputs over T1s, especially fractional T1s, can only provide connectivity of up to 1,536 Kilobits per second. "But none can compare to the 14 Megabits-per-second speeds available with our Canopy links," says Melsheimer. Another major cost to Iberville Bank -- the $70,000 it was being charged annually by couriers to deliver checks and other paper-based documents to processing centers -- has been eliminated.

Last year, on September 24, when Hurricane Rita smashed into the Texas-Louisiana border region, Brent Courrege saw first-hand the destructive force of a Category 3 hurricane and what something like that can do to disrupt local and regional commerce. Courrege, the chief operations officer at Jeff Davis Bank in Louisiana's Lake Charles area, oversees operations for the bank's 16 locations across some 800 square miles, all of which are tied together by a Motorola-ERF Wireless encrypted wireless broadband network.

"We lost about half the towers in the storm but the main network backbone and our operations center stayed up even during the most intense winds and rains," he recalls. "We lost power at most of our locations. There were mandatory evacuations -- all Lake Charles people were locked out. However, we got permission to go back in and within a day after the hurricane hit, we got busy and the affected branches were back up and running in no time. In fact, we were up and back in business before most other banks -- banks that had to wait for the local telephone company to restore their T1 connections."

Courrege and his team used rented generators to power the branches and his Motorola-ERF Wireless network while they waited for the local electrical utility to restore service. Since the hurricane, the bank has replaced failed towers with ones designed to withstand a Category 4 storm. Generators now are permanently installed at key branch locations, while a supply of portable units is available for immediate deployment should they be needed.

"These technologies were developed to satisfy both stringent auditing standards and federal banking regulations covering enterprise wireless network security. We believe we have the only wireless terrestrial systems that have been subjected to rigorous audits, banking examinations and vulnerability assessment tests necessary to carry sensitive financial data," says Burns. "In addition, ERF Wireless provides encrypted satellite failover circuits to satisfy a redundancy requirement soon to be mandated by federal regulators."