Just How Safe are These Safety Deposit Boxes?

By: Luan Johnson

Not again. Another theft in a bank; this time not from a robbery, but due to human error and misjudgment. An unauthorized personal got access to someone else's deposit box. Robberies such as these happen more often than you would think. While technologies are becoming highly advanced, so are criminals, advancing their tools for clean robberies, fraud transactions and easier ways to create fake ID's.

Deposit boxes in a bank seem like the safest place to keep valuable possessions and they might protect these documents and items from certain kinds of disasters, but is the procedure to access the deposit box secured? A survey in 2002 by the Federal Trade Commission found that over 9.5 million people had fallen victim to identity theft and fraud. So we put our valuable possessions in a deposit box for which we must pay rent, but, considering this fact, is it really the safest place?

Many financial institutes are very serious about their customer service and the security provided to their clients. According to the Celent website (http://www.celent.com/Pr ... icTech.htm) the best solution they have found in protecting against identity fraud is in researching the security possibilities of biometric technology.

Surprisingly, such a step took a long time. We live in a time where the room-sized PC's of yesterday are now the size of a small watch and the Internet can be accessed everywhere; even in the desert. At elementary schools, children the age of five are using biometric fingerprint technology (http://www.prweb.com/rel ... 199250.htm). Fingerprint technology has become more acceptable to people and is being widely used in law enforcement, gyms, dental clinics, defense, schools and other institutes. Then why is it taking so long for biometric technology to be used in banks?

Biometric technology has always been somewhat controversial. It is understandable that some people have doubts, and every person is entitled to their own opinion regarding the technology. There has been voiced concern over what exactly happens during the identification process and what would happen if someone were to break into the biometric system to steal identification data.

However, in most cases, there is nothing of use to steal. When an individual's fingers are first scanned, biometric software encrypts the scan into random set of binary numbers, which would be useless to anyone. Biometrics companies utilize algorithms that are not standard across the industry. If a thief were to break into the system, they would have to design a reverse algorithm to gain any info, and even then it would just be useless strings of numbers. The acceptance of biometric technology all comes down to how one looks at an issue, if someone wants to think negatively, no technology can satisfy that individual.

The current protocol for accessing a deposit box is quite simple, where a client can only open his/her deposit box with an assigned key, the bank's master key and finally with the client's signature, or perhaps a pin code or password of some sort. Also, a bank employee has to stay and wait until the client has left the bank vault, which creates additional hassle for the bank. Through this procedure there are possible chances of

&bull illegal fraud transaction

&bull unauthorized access to someone else's deposit box

&bull human error

&bull lapse of security

&bull identity theft

&bull altered signature

I have been doing research on fingerprint technology companies and companies such as M2SYS Technology, Motorolaand NEC came up. Among them M2SYS website was quite helpful and easier to understand and among their line of fingerprint software products was a product called Bio-Tracker which is biometric fingerprint software that eliminates any opportunities for identity fraud.

Basically, Bio-Tracker and other fingerprint software like this use a similar process; it stores the fingerprint data and a photo image of a client. The fingerprint data is then encrypted into random binary number given by the fingerprint software algorithm and when a client visits the bank to access their deposit box, he/she is requested to swipe their finger on a fingerprint scanner. Then, the fingerprint software matches the fingerprint scanned with the encrypted fingerprint stored in the database and if they match, only then would the bank allow the client to access their deposit box.

I understand how people feel about biometric technology, but we really need to look at the positive aspects of using such technology or at least learn more about these technologies to remove the misunderstandings and doubts we might have. If we really look close these biometric software can possibly:

&bull eradicate human error

&bull eliminate identity fraud

&bull remove PIN or Password system (don't have to remember them anymore)

&bull save employee time

&bull bring more efficiency

&bull increase security

&bull provide no chance for unauthorized access

Technologies are here to make our lives easier and not to bring additional burden. Obviously, no technology in this world is 100% perfect, but it seems that the companies who have created these technologies are interested in increasing our security and making our lives safer. Biometric technology cannot only be used while accessing deposit boxes but also can be used in others area in banks where security clearance is required, or during certain transactions or employee clock in/out. I strongly believe that we should research the possibility of integrating biometric technology to enhance the security of our safety deposit boxes. Because really, who doesn't want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their money is safe?

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