Credit Union Cybersecurity Awareness

cybersecurity awareness monthAs the world trends towards more and more digital solutions, there is an ever-increasing risk of individuals and businesses being exposed to cyberattacks. A cyberattack refers to the attempt to steal, disable, expose or destroy information illegally through unauthorized access to computer systems, and when cyberattacks succeed, they can be extremely dangerous and costly to whomever suffered the attack. Because of the clear danger of cyberattacks, it’s crucial that individuals and institutions like credit unions that rely heavily on digital infrastructures take the appropriate measures to protect themselves and their members.

Luckily, it’s October and that means it’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an annual event sponsored by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). Each week in October, CISA will be discussing different themes related to cybersecurity, and credit unions can learn from the event and start taking measures to enhance their cybersecurity.

What is cybersecurity for credit unions?

President Biden has declared October as the designated month for the public and private sectors to collaborate and raise awareness about cybersecurity and measures they can take to be safer on the internet. That means that several events, including social media engagements and educational talks, will take place this month to educate the public. For the first week of the program, the theme is “Be CyberSmart.”

According to the director of CISA, Jen Easterly, “It’s important that everyone take a moment this month to implement common-sense steps like multi-factor authentication to keep themselves secure online. So much of our daily routines exist on digital platforms, and we need everyone to do their part to combat the growing threats our nation faces in cyberspace.” 

Listed below are some ways credit unions and individuals can protect their cybersecurity:

  • Regularly updating your software or enabling automatic updates can reduce the risk of a cyberattack.
  • Multi-factor authentication systems can reduce the chances of being hacked by 99%.
  • Always use strong passwords and keep them closely guarded.
  • Don’t click on anything! Up to 90% of cyberattacks begin with a phishing email, so be extra careful if you receive a suspicious email.

Listed below is the full schedule of topics that will be featured throughout the month of October:

  • Week of October 4 (Week 1): Be Cyber Smart.
  • Week of October 11 (Week 2): Phight the Phish!
  • Week of October 18 (Week 3): Explore. Experience. Share. Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week
  • Week of October 25 (Week 4): Cybersecurity First

To learn more about Cybersecurity Awareness Month and some of the upcoming events, you can visit CISA’s webpage here.

What can credit unions do to enhance their cybersecurity?

As more credit unions rely on digital banking services to handle all aspects of their businesses, cybersecurity has become more important than ever before. Whether a member is opening an account with your credit union, digitally applying for a loan, or checking their balance online, it’s important that their personal and financial information remains protected. While we highly recommend credit unions participate in Cybersecurity Awareness Month to learn more about steps they can take to improve their cybersecurity, here are a few tips for credit unions moving forward:

  • Compliance. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council has created a resource to help credit unions evaluate their cybersecurity effectiveness. The Cybersecurity Assessment Tool can be used to ensure your CU is up to date with the industry standards.
  • Define your risks. Consider the different scenarios that could lead to a breach and what potential actors could attempt a cyberattack. Take the necessary steps to mitigate your risks as much as possible.
  • Involve your whole team. The days of only experts understanding and being involved with your CU’s cybersecurity are over. Educate and test your team for vulnerabilities. Also, encourage cross-team collaboration to improve your CU’s cybersecurity across the entire network.
  • Be prepared. Make sure your credit union has a cybersecurity checklist ready and a plan in place in the event of a cyberattack. 
  • Security controls. Your CU should implement safeguards and security controls that can detect, avoid, and minimize security risks. These security controls are generally divided between preventative, detective and corrective controls. Examples include malware defenses and internal processes for accessing risks.

Being hacked by a cyberattack can be severely detrimental to your credit union. In fact, many small and mid-sized businesses that experience cyberattacks end up going out of business. Since most credit unions cannot afford to suffer a cyberattack, it’s critical your CU take all the necessary steps to protect you and your member’s information and assets. 

Choose the right credit union core provider

Credit unions face an array of ongoing security concerns and responsibilities. As data security breaches are on the rise so are the number of exploits and vulnerabilities. With FLEX, comprehensive security services are available using a multi-layered approach guarding critical data and repelling malicious attacks from both outside and inside your network.
To learn more about the security services offered by FLEX, click below.

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