Your Neighborhood ATM May Go On The Cloud To Improve Security

Your Neighborhood ATM May Go On the Cloud to Improve Security

In our fast-moving world, if there’s one piece of public equipment we can’t do without it’s the Automated Teller Machine. The ATM, or Any Time Money as it’s often called, is an innovative device that has made life easier for us, the same way as gas pumps – you arrive, swipe a card and then take as much as you need. Now, according to the latest in ATM technology, this friendly neighborhood device may soon go on the cloud. And what’s more, it’s all in the name of increased security.

Now, cloud security is something that has supporters and detractors in equal measure. On one hand, a police department snubs cloud computing citing security concerns (See: LAPD Refuses To Go On the Cloud); on the other hand, the US Army, perhaps the most security-conscious organization in the world, reposes its faith in the technology (See: US Army Awards First Cloud Computing Contract). In this light, ATM services company Diebold offering a cloud-based solution to address security concerns is of special significance.

ATM security is something that gives quite a few headaches to financial institutions and law enforcement officials worldwide. From brute force attacks to extract cash from the machines, criminals have graduated to more sophisticated measures using advanced electronic equipment to obtain data rather than cash. With this compromised data, they end up stealing a lot more than a single machine could have possibly yielded.

There are big bucks at stake here. The Wall Street Journal reports , that according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), more money is stolen today through data breaches, including compromised ATM systems, than through physical bank robberies. And the American Bankers Association (ABA) estimates that thieves in a typical ATM heist rob ten times more money than in a typical bank holdup.

All things considered, the ATM is a computer with cash and signaling capabilities to a central server. Diebold’s solution is to move confidential information from the ATM hard drive to the cloud. Now, information stored in the cloud can actually reside in heavily-guarded server farms with state-of-the-art motion sensors and 24/7 secured access, camera surveillance and security breach alarms. As is obvious, security would be much better than in the neighborhood ATM.

This solution is not without its detractors. Some believe that by concentrating data at one place, criminals would be presented with an attractive target. Personally speaking, I believe that while this concern is valid, security measures can be put into place to address this issue. And it’s definitely easier to do so at a few server farms than at each and every ATM location.

Stock markets have already started using cloud computing (See: What NYSE’s Adoption of Cloud Computing Means for the Industry); if ATMs too join in, a whole gamut of financial services would have adopted this technology. With the number of ATMs worldwide expected to increase from 2.4 million today to 3.2 million by 2016, that’s a lot of data projected to be in the clouds.

By Sourya Biswas

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