Governance and risk assessment: The winning formula for cybersecurity success

Cyber threats – ever-present, always evolving – the worry that keeps credit union executives up at night. As we navigate the innovation of technology, threat actors are poised and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. With credit unions always a prime target for cybercriminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive information, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant and take proactive measures to protect against these threats, but it’s not just external threats that institutions need to be wary of when it comes to cybersecurity. According to DefenseStorm’s 2023 Benchmark Report, more than 68% of institutions have ongoing strategic objectives or growth initiatives that could impact their cyber risk level. As financial institutions continue to evolve and grow, they must prioritize their cybersecurity measures to protect themselves and their clients from potential threats.

So, what’s the secret to achieving cybersecurity success? To safeguard the credit union and members’ sensitive data, cyber risk must be managed using the same framework employed in other areas of the credit union. A risk management framework must be designed and implemented by defining risk appetite, culture, and a risk management system. It is essential for proper governance over the program to ascertain that it continues to be implemented as designed and that the risks are being mitigated in line with the credit union’s risk appetite.

Risk management and the risk assessment

The credit union’s risk management system is a vital and comprehensive process, which includes the ongoing cycle of identifying, measuring, mitigating, and monitoring risk. Another key part of the risk management system is all the credit union’s policies, processes, systems, and people that work together to form a system of controls that mitigate the risks to which the credit union is inherently exposed.

A pivotal starting point within the risk management system is the risk assessment. Credit unions must first identify and measure risks before they can design the proper system of controls. It’s an exercise of asking yourself – what are the risks? What is the level of risk? Are we comfortable with that level of risk? What controls can we put into place to mitigate this risk to a level that aligns with our risk appetite or our comfort level toward the individual risk in question?


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