Magazine article American Banker

Zions' Link to Fighting Fraud

Magazine article American Banker

Zions' Link to Fighting Fraud

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeremy Quittner

Zions Bancorp., in its attempt to spot fraud, was gathering much more data than its technology could handle. While searching for a needle in a haystack, it was just piling on more hay.

To finally make sense of the data it was collecting, it had to replace its process with a faster and less expensive link analysis tool.

"Many years ago we started aggregating security event information into a relational database to mine the data, correlate it and turn the data into more useful intelligence ... [but] the relational databases have scale issues, and at a certain point you are not able to add more horsepower to get what you want out of it," says Preston Wood, the Salt Lake City company's chief information security officer.

After many years of storing this data, the process of retrieving it had become too slow.

To speed things up under its old system, Zions would have had to add to the hodgepodge of products it was using from Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Inc.

Instead, early this year, Zions turned to Zettaset Inc. of Mountain View, Calif. The vendor is a specialist in link analysis, a technology in use for a decade, which it has updated using search engine techniques. Banks have only recently started to use such systems.

"Now I have one repository to get linkage and gain information, whereas in the past it may have been sitting in a bunch of different locations and difficult to link up," Wood says.

Link analysis can help banks like Zions examine structured and unstructured data. Structured data is often the kind found in form fields. Unstructured data, as its name implies, is more random. It is often text-based and does not fit well into relational databases, experts say.

Link analysis has important fraud-fighting potential, since fraudsters leave a trail of data that spans bank silos and channels. …

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