What is emerging technological solutions towards ATMs safety?

Many thefts of ATMs are being reported every day all over the country. ATM theft can be quite lucrative as the average size machine can hold as much as crores of rupees. One of the reasons is that in the past decade there has been a dramatic rise in the number of money machines that are located at convenience stores and gas stations. These are easier targets for robbers than bank-located machines, which are typically better guarded and harder to grab and criminal penalties are much less severe for ATM theft than for armed robbery or for breaking into a bank. What’s more, for anti-social thieves it’s an appealing crime. One of the reasons people like it is because it can be done late at night and don’t have to confront anyone. Therefore, one of the primary concerns banks and financial institutions face is ATM security. With criminals becoming more prominent in the financial industry, banks especially need to install stronger safety precautions not only for their business, but to also protect their customers’ personal information and bank accounts.

Security guards, electronic alarms, CCTV cameras, sensors, social interference, police patrolling, heavy bases to machines, grill-protected ATM machines etc., all such methods are proving futile in providing safety to ATMs from thieves everywhere in general and in remote areas in particular. As ATMs continue to populate the retail landscape, thieves looking for quick cash don’t have to look very far. The increasing deployment of off-site ATMs in less secure locations has opened the door to smash-and-grab thefts and vandalism. Increased deployment of low-end cash dispensers with low-end construction has presented a growing number of easy targets. It is also a crime that takes a number of pairs of legs to pull off. Just to lift the machines can require as many as four men. ATM heists are fairly messy and labor intensive. They typically happen at convenience stores late at night. In most instances, thieves will back a stolen pick-up truck to a store’s front door, before smashing the windows. Robbers then loop a chain attached to the truck around the target ATM. The truck yanks the machine, along with the front doors and anything else in the way, into the parking lot. The robbers lift the machine onto their flatbed and drive, quickly, off. And that’s just to get the machine. Even after the getaway, the thieves still have to break into the ATM’s safe, which typically requires a blowtorch. Lastly, to cover their tracks, most ATM heists end with the robbers setting fire to the stolen vehicle as well as the machine.

Most of the time, the ATM thieves are intelligent and knew how the machines operated (like power source, camera etc). It is found that the modus operandi of the thieves follows almost a ritualistic pattern: disable the surveillance camera, disconnect the power and the centralized battery, uproot the machine and cart it away. Banks are losing lots of money in these thefts and people are losing faith in depositing their money in banks with a fear that one day or the other banks may declare themselves as bankrupt and government also will not come forward to pay all the deposits.  No doubt, most of the technological solutions in general and in ATMs in particular are to make people afraid of not committing the acts of stealing in the disguise of being caught and then getting legally punished for wrong doings.  But most of the times people are hard determined to do such thefts and then all solutions prove to be futile to protect ATMs.  However, technology is developing so fast and there are many technological solutions, if put to use in ATMs, it is possible that such ATM thefts can be neutralized and if the theft cannot be stopped at least the money stolen can be  made to be spoiled so that even thieves will never try again.  It is true that technology reach first in the hands of its mis-users or they are capable enough to find the solutions to all technological advances to their advantages.  Here, some of the thoughtful technological solutions are briefed which are either successfully implemented at some places or are in pipe line in near future in order to control ATM thefts or the loss due to these thefts.One way to ensure a company survives theft of machines is insurance but insurance has to be a last resort to protect the assets of an organization. It’s meant to be integrated with other security measures to reduce the monetary loss.  There are many things to be concerned about. There is a lot of focus on electronic security right now and deservedly so. But the physical security of the machine as they become more numerous is also an issue because more people are going to understand the way to make off with those machines. Technological advances like tracing mechanism with GPS devices for securing the machines is to tie them into security systems, install locator devices, attach dye packets to cash boxes and use of online ATM-based camera solutions. Some of these solutions are briefly discussed as:

The low-tech method to fight brute force is brute reinforcement, which has worked in some cases. Damage to the machine still occurs, but the cash box is safe. Experts have also installed a reinforcing bracket through the wall from the outside wall to the inside one, as well as secured the unit to the floor to prevent the machine from being rocked from its mooring. The machines were built with half-inch holes but had been installed with three eighths inch bolts. The increased size of the bolt and placing it through a plate inside the machine, essentially trapping it to the concrete. Fortification with reinforced metal sheets. Fortified installation (anchoring) with the placement of specially designed per ATM metal mounts

  • Video surveillance can keep watch over the machines ensure that no one loiters there and have proof in case of identity theft.
  • Install loud emergency alarms or switches which send strong signals to police stations or the public in case of such incidents. A loud alarm alerting the law enforcers or the public outside will definitely help prevent an untoward incident.
  • Provide inside ATMs a switch which can act as a door lock once a person enters in it to make a transaction. It should work like this; once you enter the ATM, the door shuts and cannot be open unless you press the switch from inside. Another person cannot enter the ATM behind your back when you are doing you transaction.
  • ATM ink security solutions for ATM cassettes in which stolen money can be made to be dyed immediately when the theft in ATM occurs with the help of some sensors and machatronic network. It is a bit daunting when the thieves have to face that the money has been dyed, the police have been called and a siren is going to go off.
  • Electronic security is equally important as physical security, and the market has responded with products designed to protect these vulnerable, valuable targets. Everything from simple preventive measures to high-end security applications is available for ATM owners. The locator devices can react in seconds to give police the exact position of a machine that has been stolen. The locator system, which applies the same global positioning system (GPS) technology used by outdoor sports aficionados and ships at sea. The launched satellites around the globe, with stationed ones on any horizon can send a beacon from which the locator device can triangulate its position. The twist that security corporations have recently applied is to link each locator from the cash machine to a central monitoring station via cellular communications. A mercury switch or a contact mounted to the floor detects that the machine has been lifted. The system initiates a phone call to the monitoring station, which relays the locator’s position once a second. At the monitoring station, a computer screen brings up the latitude, longitude, speed and direction where the stolen machine is heading. A database provides phone numbers for police and the after-hours contact personnel. A second monitor overlay the global positioning system’s location over a street map. The mapping is amazingly accurate. The locator device can prevent the damage by initiating its alarm call in seconds, before the thieves can get the unit outside and move it. The system will be useful for the smaller stand-alone systems such as those placed in convenience stores, where the real problem is.
  • Most ATMs are connected to a national network which can detect fraud but cannot deal with a physical heist of the machine. That needs local intervention. Security solution with smart phones run with android application can have inbuilt sensors (like accelerometer to measure vibration, temperature, a USB connection to measure power and a mike to detect noise levels). When the sensors detect the slightest change in any of these parameters, an SMS alert will automatically be sent to the police control room. Another app then tracks the location of the ATM on a Google map and even gives GPS coordinates. These smart phones can be easily hidden in the top (electronic) and bottom (cash dispenser) compartments of the ATM. The phones communicate with a back-end monitoring system and the local authorities that receive the alert. The phone will work even if the ATM is carried away. The phones can be installed in less than 30 minutes and is independent of the ATM power and communication network, it is tamper proof. The app can also send alerts to other controlling devices like creating an audio alarm, locking doors etc during attack.




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