Targets for cybercriminals are chosen based on two conditions: impact and profit. Credit unions meet both requirements while offering multiple avenues for theft and fraud. With the increasing reliance on cloud-based services, mobile devices, and remote workers, credit unions must ensure they are equipped to protect their evolving IT environments. Failing to do so can have severe consequences as malware and data breaches lead the charge as top threats and incident costs continue to rise.
To avoid becoming another victimized credit union, below are a few insights to safeguard your business:
- Security train your first line of defense
Protecting your credit union against cyber threats is crucial. Regular Proactive Security Awareness Programs are necessary to empower employees to identify and respond effectively to suspicious communications and emails. The purpose of training is not to reprimand employees but to educate them about how criminals target individuals and how to recognize the warning signs. It should cover many attack methods, such as phishing, fake IT calls, and text-based scams.
According to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, 74% of breaches involved the human element, which includes social engineering, errors, or misuse. This statistic highlights the importance of your employees as the first line of defense against various threats, especially phishing scams. By actively involving employees, credit unions can mitigate the risk of data breaches and ransomware attacks stemming from clever phishing campaigns and social engineering tactics.
- Managing risk in third-party vendor relationships
Credit unions rely heavily on external vendors to streamline operations, expand their services, and attract new members. While the member-facing aspects of banking may appear seamless, credit unions work with multiple organizations with varying security capabilities behind the scenes. Any failure or compromise within this vendor chain ultimately reflects on the credit union’s reputation rather than the external vendor responsible. This means that credit unions bear the brunt of the cyber risk.
The evolving threat landscape, daily publication of vendor vulnerabilities, and growing compliance demands make vendor management challenging. Here are a few fundamental guidelines:
Minimize third-party risk by:
- Conduct a risk assessment and establish minimum security guidelines with each partner.
- Limit vendor access to crucial assets. For example, marketing services should access member contact information, not core banking data.
- Communicate your compliance requirements and align security programs to protect your members.
- Monitor your network using threat detection and automated solutions.
- Staying current with compliance regulations
Compliance constantly evolves in response to emerging threats, and credit unions are not immune to this change. Keeping up with the latest regulations ensures credibility and avoids costly investigations and penalties. The goal is to be compliant, regardless of the industry’s ever-changing landscape. Shifting this burden from your internal team to a cybersecurity provider can help ensure your credit union achieves compliance.
Regardless of company size, data breaches snowball into complicated situations that can take years to resolve. Meeting cybersecurity compliance standards mitigates risk and the havoc that comes with it.
To be better prepared for potential incidents, credit unions can implement these best practices as part of their security measures. Early detection is crucial, as the quicker a threat is identified and eliminated, the better the outcome in the long run.
One practical approach credit unions use is combining a Security Operations Platform with a Managed Detection and Response provider. This combination allows for continuous scanning of the network and hosting environment, enabling the prompt identification of vulnerabilities and enhancing the overall threat detection and response times.