According to global business research firm IGI Global, Access Rights Management (ARM) is: “The process of assigning digital rights to users which can then be used in conjunction with an access control system (ACS) to obtain access to some resource.” In the case of credit unions, one of the most important resources are the documents and the data they contain, many of which hold extremely sensitive information. In this article, the discussion of ARM relates to the allocation, renewal, and revocation of users rights to these resources as part of your credit union’s cybersecurity strategy.
In the context of cybersecurity strategy, ARM is achieved through the use of an ACS built on a comprehensive and secure document management system (DMS). This represents the most logical and effective starting point when it comes to taking control of your credit union’s risk profile. Implementing this essential cybersecurity strategy should be a priority for your credit union’s leadership team because of the opportunities it presents to secure highly sensitive member and institutional information, thus mitigating risks which could divert valuable financial, reputational, and employee resources away from your organization’s member services and business goals.
Reducing cybersecurity risks through Access Rights Management is a key issue in 2022 for credit unions. With the data within your credit union at extremely high risk for external and internal attacks and misuse, there is significant exposure for all of your credit union’s key stakeholders due to the negative consequences of these potential events which are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Being proactive to reduce the likelihood of these attacks starts with achieving strong ARM protocols as part of your overall 2022 cybersecurity plan. The following checklist provides a framework for their implementation:
- Assess your credit union’s information access infrastructure. Consider all of the potential users and data touch points throughout your credit union, particularly the digital and paper documents that are generated in the course of loan and account activities, internal processing, member transactions, human resources compliance, finance operations, and board governance. These documents contain high volumes of sensitive information that would be a treasure trove for cybercriminals if they accessed them. As such it is imperative that you know where potential weak points are in your system and assign access to only appropriate users of the data.
Beyond the day-to-day access requirements to member, operational, and transaction data, a key data access point are the authoritative copies of assets your credit union retains. SmartVault’s new UCC 9-105 compliant digital asset vaulting capabilities enable your credit union to securely generate and store digital authoritative copies, providing another key competitive and data security advantage for your institution.
- Create an internal and external ARM needs assessment. Once you have completed a broad-based needs analysis in terms of the data activities, users, and access points in your credit union, it is time to look at the specific service and administrative areas in which users need to have access to what data. Creating a detailed list and plan to reduce unnecessary access to data inside and outside of your credit union is key. This may require streamlining your operations and leveraging the capabilities within a secure DMS such as SmartVault, allowing you to assign permissions, send two-way encrypted data between users, and monitor access to data with both a real-time audit trail and version control for every document, depending on your specific operational workflow and user access patterns.
- Implement an internal and external ARM workflow with secure DMS as the hub. Once you have a clear roadmap for how your organization needs to proceed to secure its sensitive data within a larger ARM plan, you can start to create workflows for each area of your credit union and assign access to the data necessary to fulfill each function. This includes credit union members, staff, and board members, in addition to any third-parties that need to be included.
If the thought of creating these kinds of data security and access management workflows is overwhelming, reach out to your DMS provider. They should be able to help you map out the best way to manage user rights and to make modifications throughout the implementation process. Be sure to include all data in your workflows including paper-based forms and information, which should be scanned and stored securely in the cloud, with hard copies stored remotely to eliminate related access and data theft risks.
- Educate your workforce and members on cybersecurity and access rights management as part of a risk reduction framework. Although you may not like to think about it, your employees may be putting your credit union’s data security in peril. This is often unintentional, but there may also be cases of internal malicious behavior through disgruntled or possibly devious employees.
Usually it is the lack of a strong and proactive ARM structure combined with lack of training about risks and mitigation policies that are problematic. This is why training is critical for all users and generators of your credit union’s data. Make sure your member communications provide specific best practices on access to accounts and transfer of sensitive data with your credit union. In addition, be sure that you provide ongoing and in-depth training to employees and executives, as well as ensuring your vendors and other service providers are aware of your security protocols and how to follow them.
- Reduce your credit union’s cybersecurity risk by making ARM a key cybersecurity priority for your credit union in 2022. It’s an indisputable fact that setting, implementing, and enforcing the highest possible security standards for all of your member information and documents is critical now, and will only become more so as we enter 2022 and the years ahead. With credit union members adopting the digital service model at unprecedented rates, the opportunity and likelihood of a cyber or even on-premise attack on your credit union’s stored data from either an internal or external data breach through the infiltration of your credit union is high.
Of course, any DMS you use to implement your ARM plan must meet all NCUA and other compliance requirements, too. SmartVault is SEC, FINRA, and IRS compliant, meaning it can help you meet the need for a collaborative workflow tool with access and version control capabilities inside and outside of your credit union. You can learn more about planning your ARM strategy and leveraging SmartVault as the DMS hub to help you implement it at SmartVault.com.