Meet March Networks’ President & CEO Peter Strom

Financial institutions across the globe rely on Convergint Technologies to cost-effectively maintain system uptime in order to protect customers, colleagues, property, and information. Convergint integrates existing IT systems with disparate building systems to increase situational awareness, mitigate risk, and maintain compliance. By providing effective integration of systems, Convergint is pivotal to financial institutions who are diligently working towards achieving meaningful improvements.

One of Convergint’s premium financial institution partners is March Networks®. March Networks is a global leader in intelligent IP video surveillance products and solutions and is passionate about video’s nearly unlimited potential to help organizations work faster and smarter, using integrated, analytics-driven business insights.

Tell us about your professional background.

I joined March Networks in 2003. Since that time, the company has grown from a start-up business to a global provider of IP video solutions. We’re recognized particularly for our enterprise-class banking solutions, and also for the market-specific solutions we provide to retail and transit organizations.

Prior to joining March Networks, I served as President and CEO of Gyyr, Inc., a California-based video storage manufacturer. There, I led the company’s digital transformation. Before Gyyr, I was Vice President of International Operations with the Ohio-based Mosler Corporation, where I expanded its global reseller network into 40 countries and helped establish a Beijing-based joint venture banking security company.

Prior to Mosler, I also held positions with Sensormatic Corporation and Honeywell International, who recruited me right out of school after finishing my M.B.A. in International Business.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges faced by the financial vertical as it relates to security?

There’s certainly plenty of challenges in the financial vertical. But if I look at the banking market itself, and some of the core customers that we do business with, the biggest challenge is getting multiple departments to work together. Particularly in the larger financial institutions, I often find that the Security Department does a very good job with their budgets and planning but they tend to work in a silo. Interestingly enough, when we talk to a Security Department, we are often a catalyst to actually getting some of those departments to work together. In fact, there have been situations where I have actually introduced the Security Director to the Head of IT for a bank.

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What do you think are some of the biggest security mistakes made by the financial industry?

Often, financial institutions are heavily focused on improving the customer experience. A common trend is to make transactions simpler for the customer, such as digital checking and enabling customers to open accounts remotely, which is certainly more but can also introduce potential security holes or risks. The Security Department has to come in after the fact and figure out how to apply new processes to ensure that regulatory compliance and safety are met. 

The same thing goes for branch transformation. I’ve visited many banks trying out new branch layouts, and from a customer perspective they are very attractive; however, occasionally they can also be highly non-secure in terms of sensitive areas and the safety of tellers. Generally, Security Departments are brought in at the very end, once branch layouts have been established. If the Security Department was included in the very early stages of their planning, the overall solution would probably be more favorable

Do March Networks’ solutions apply to large or small financial institutions?

March Networks can meet the needs of any kind of financial institution of any size. Today we have more than 500 financial institutions as customers, and they range from small credit unions to large multinational banks that are deploying our solution in several countries. Our product is highly scalable, so we tend to differentiate ourselves on the very high end of the market. However, we have reliability and easy management features that a small credit union can benefit from as well.

What are some common problems you see in the financial vertical?

Some common security problems include skimming and card theft. The U.S. has been slow to adopt the PIN and chip security and has probably suffered the most because of that. The U.S. is now moving very quickly to this technology, which has thankfully started to reduce the problem. The issue, however, is that every time a new technology is released, criminals are able to find a new method to steal. Now that PIN and chip are established, attacks are being done directly on ATMs. Many ATMs are running very old software. I’ve heard horror stories of some ATMs still running Windows XP, which is no longer supported, and there are a number of cyber holes that criminals can actually attack and use to essentially reprogram ATMs.

There is also an issue with ATM dwelling – people sleeping in ATM vestibules, for example, or loitering near an ATM. March Networks is currently trialing a solution for loitering because it is hurting our customers’ business.

How do regulations impact security in the financial industry?

In the U.S., we haven’t seen a lot of strict regulations in terms of video or security relative to other countries. There are some regions that are far more stringent with banking regulations. Europe, for example, is strict about how long organizations can retain video for and where they can actually place surveillance cameras and capture information.

Europe has released a new set of regulations recently called General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which limit video retention to just days. In the U.S., a financial institution can store video data for unlimited periods of time. The GDPR also limits camera numbers and where they can be installed to ensure that captured video cannot be viewed as private information. Also, if a camera is placed to capture video of people entering or exiting a bank branch, it must be able to mask any other activity unrelated to the bank, again for privacy reasons.

The Middle East has also been very stringent with its video regulations, which have been one of the drivers to banks in that region adopting new technology, particularly when it comes to capturing transactional data along with video. It’s actually mandated in the Middle East that every single bank transaction, whether ATM or teller line, has to have video integrated and coupled with the transactional data.

How important is cybersecurity in the financial vertical, and what steps does March Networks take to address cyber concerns?

Cybersecurity in financial institutions was an issue long before cybersecurity became a hot topic. Right from the beginning, many of March Networks’ engineers came from an IT/networking background rather than a traditional video background. As a result, we were able to build our video products from the ground up to meet all of a financial institution’s cybersecurity standards. We developed our video recorders using an embedded Linux operating system (OS) stripped down to make as it as secure as possible. Secondly, we embedded the OS on a drive that’s entirely separate from the device’s recording hard-drives. That way, if a recorder becomes corrupt, it will still shut down gracefully and retain all of its recorded video. We also build our video management software with customizable permission levels, so a financial institution can grant only the permissions different people need to do their jobs. An administrator might have full access to the system, for example, however, a district manager would likely only have access to the video captured in their region and no ability to reset recording schedules or change other system settings. Our software can be fully integrated with an organizations LDAP system as well, so existing user permissions can be synchronized with the video solution.

To help our partners and their technicians, March Networks also introduced a unique smartphone application called March Networks GURU. This mobile application enables installers to configure a recorder, troubleshoot a product in the field, check warranty status, arrange a return authorization and much more using just their smartphone or tablet. GURU also gives our partners convenient access to product data sheets, user guides, manuals and instructions, troubleshooting tips, and video tutorials on their phones. They can even use GURU to run a security audit, which will highlight any step that might have been missed in the install, such as changing a default password for an administrator account.

March Networks strives to proactively address security threats as they are reported by the U.S Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). When we learn of potential vulnerabilities, our team conducts immediate, in-depth investigations across our product lines. If appropriate and required, we take immediate action to prepare software and firmware updates, and to alert customers to the availability of these updates. Any partner or customer is free to sign up for these Security Advisories or view updates on our website.

Are there any other benefits that security technology can offer to a financial institution, other than protecting its people and property?

Yes. Our March Networks Searchlight™ for Banking application combines enterprise-level video management with intelligent software to help financial institutions reduce fraud, speed investigation times, and gather business intelligence to help oversee and improve operations, customer service, workforce management, compliance and ultimately increase profits. By integrating surveillance video with teller and ATM transaction data, Searchlight helps security and fraud investigators work more quickly and effectively, dramatically reducing the time and costs incurred with each investigation, and yielding accurate and measurable results. Searchlight also integrates with business analytics to deliver valuable insights into customer behavior, employee performance, and branch operations, which can ultimately improve the overall customer experience.

What benefits do you think a financial institution receives when partnering with March Networks and Convergint on security?

There are many benefits to partnering with March Networks and Convergint on security. First, both companies understand networking very well and are comfortable with solutions ranging from simple to very complex network deployments. Second, both companies can support customers domestically and globally. Third, both March Networks and Convergint have a lot of experience working with third-party vendors. Both of our organizations are forward-looking companies with a commitment to incorporating new technologies that can help our customers solve problems. We both have a thorough understanding of key customer issues, and we can adapt our overall solution to help address and effectively address those challenges.

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November 1, 2017|
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