Top 4 Disaster Recovery Concerns and 2023 Cybersecurity Trends

 

2022 has almost come and gone already. Your credit unions are gearing up for holiday promotions and member requests, and before you know it, you’ll be writing “2022” on your transaction records and deposit slips and then crossing it out because you forgot we’re in 2023 now!

We all make mistakes, and some are inevitable, that’s why we wanted to shed some light on the most common disaster recovery concerns as well as highlight some of the biggest 2023 cybersecurity trends.

Mobile Banking is a Big Target

Because your members are doing more and more of their financial housekeeping from their smartphones, there are several reports that mobile banking malware attacks are on the rise – seeing an increase of more than 50% since 2019.

Today, the majority of fraudulent transactions are being initiated from mobile devices, and that includes things like malware, data tampering, phishing attacks, ransomware incidents, and data loss.

Mobile banking will likely remain a top concern for your credit union branches (and for financial institutions as an industry) through 2023 and beyond.

Enhancing the Digital Experience

The work-from-home and remote solutions culture is still going strong in 2022 – expect to see an increased fluidity with which people are completing their work, personal appointments, shopping, finances, and so much more.

This includes optimizing your member-facing digital and mobile assets and services, as well as increasing the efficiency of your employee offboarding. Getting non-employees off your servers and out of your access windows is arguably more important than getting them the access they need at onboarding.

Without access, a new employee’s productivity is slowed, sure, but without timely access revocation, your former employees can slow the productivity of your entire staff.

It’s no longer about training new hires faster, it’s about keeping the incoming and outgoing access requests efficient to minimize gaps in your access security.

Endpoint Security Will Continue to Be Big

One of the most common 2023 cybersecurity trends and disaster recovery concerns includes endpoint security. All these remote and mobile access points mean your credit union’s network has never been more vulnerable from more angles. The IoT (Internet of Things) creates more opportunities for people and businesses to connect, but that same connection can be used to exploit your credit union’s network vulnerabilities.

We’ll see bigger pushes for remote and virtual desktops, increased endpoint security, and more. Data and productivity protection will become top-priority items.

Downtime is something that many of your members are not going to tolerate – and that means using your resources to create big bank solutions on small business and independent credit union budgets.

To help determine your direction for 2023 cybersecurity success, the latter part of 2022 and the first part of 2023 are the perfect windows of opportunity for your credit unions and branches to do some thorough vulnerability assessments.

Including MFA (multifactor authentication) and other access, controls should be educational and operational frontrunners – keeping the right people in and the wrong people out can decrease your chances of a data breach substantially.

Cloud-Based Business Continuity

Too much of your endpoint management and security resides outside the walls of your credit union branches. There are so many branch-sharing initiatives and other remote and mobile banking trends that will continue to raise disaster recovery concerns and top the charts for 2023 cybersecurity trends.

Because of this, your solutions should follow a hybrid model. Storing all your important data and programs in a single location (whether onsite or not) can create vulnerabilities in your disaster recovery strategy.

Cloud-based solutions like those offered at IMS can help diversify your data and create more avenues from which to recover, should your credit union start 2023 with an unexpected breach or data loss attempt.

For some great resources on disaster recovery, check out the Disaster Recovery Journal’s recent article, “Are People Top of Mind in Your 2023 Business Continuity Strategy?”

Need Help with Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

To help address your disaster recovery concerns and set you on the right track to tackle any 2023 cybersecurity trends, our team at IMS wants to offer you an all-inclusive backup service with disaster recovery, too!

Just like your credit union’s main goal is to educate and serve your members, IMS is here to support credit unions with unique and tailored solutions that fit into your CU’s operations. We don’t send you solutions that you have to adjust your credit union network and IT operations for, we are all about filling IT and cybersecurity gaps for CUs large and small.

It’s time someone helped take care of you – reach out to IMS today and let us know how we can help!


National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022: 4 Major Takeaways

 

October was National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we wanted to share some of our favorite insights we found throughout October. The importance of cybersecurity should include several focus areas.

Your network health and security should be a priority all year. As threats evolve and emerge, so should your cybersecurity strategies. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the state of your credit union’s security, but there are so many tools and experts ready to elevate your networks and provide you with powerful solutions.

The Human Element is Paramount

The theme for the 2022 National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is “See Yourself in Cyber,” which focuses on the human element of cybersecurity strategy. Because you can have the best protection and tools for your network, but more than 90% of cyberattacks are initiated (usually unintentionally) by human error.

From tellers to your CEO, and IT professionals to branch managers, the human element of cybersecurity is made up of everyone using your networks. And because credit unions are responsible for holding the life savings and other monetary assets of their members, it’s important to have all your employees trained on the most up-to-date cybersecurity practices.

Teaching your employees about the importance of cybersecurity includes showing them how to secure their everyday operations (with passwords, multifactor authentication, logging off computers instead of leaving them running or unlocked, etc.), how to recognize malicious content, emails, and more, as well as informing them how to report and react to cybersecurity breaches when they occur.

Learn about Your Members’ Habits, & Correct Them If Necessary

“Think before you click” is another way to underscore the importance of cybersecurity, especially after National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It’s a catchy phrase that packs a punch.

Many of your members are using their credit union information in third-party payment apps and on a host of diverse retail websites. The current “Tiktok made me buy it” trends have sparked innumerable spam accounts that are pretending to carry products that have gotten popular on social media and other platforms.

Your employees and members aren’t IT experts, but you can give them the tools to help recognize when and where they should be sharing credit union account information, or personal information in general.

Check to ensure that websites are PCI compliant, and teach your members how to recognize warning signs and scam accounts, emails, and sites.

Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

Weak passwords are often the downfall of an individual or credit union network. Sharing passwords, keeping them taped to your computer monitor at work or at home – we’re all tired of changing our passwords and finding out that we need uppercase, lowercase, special character, and minimum character length requirements.

But all these elements underscore the importance of cybersecurity: it’s in the details. Strong passwords are a great primary line of defense for several reasons. When you add each of these infuriating characteristics to your passwords, it would take a hacker nearly two decades to figure out what it is and leverage your data and networks in their favor. With that kind of security, it makes the hassle of creating these complex passwords worth it.

Update Your Software

The cyber threat landscape is always changing, and your software should be updated to keep up with those changes.

Cyber attacks aren’t growing because people refuse to put safeguards in place, they’re growing because more people than ever are carrying out core business and personal functions completely online, and the tools you had in place last year or even last month are already being circumvented by the latest threats.

Many credit unions (and businesses in general) hate losing productivity to time-consuming updates, but the importance of cybersecurity often lies most heavily in the preparation, not the reaction.

Here are a few tips:

  • Try to schedule disruptive or in-depth updates for downtime – stay away from business hours if possible.
  • Remind your team and your members early and often if you have updates that will render parts of your system unavailable for any amount of time.
  • if possible, turn on automatic updates – this prevents you and your employees from missing or skipping an important software patch or update.
  • Evaluate your software regularly – are there other products that could do things better or more efficiently? Look into them or create a review program to ensure your current solutions are the best solutions for your credit union.
  • Listen to IT department recommendations – costly mistakes can be made if you dismiss your resident cybersecurity experts. They’re not being alarmist, they’re telling you what will happen if you don’t take preventative action.

It’s Not “If,” It’s “When” – Why Your CU Needs Cloud-based Backups

Automated and unattended, IMS’s Rubrik backup solutions allow you to prepare for the worst without co-opting crucial hours of your management and IT teams’ time. Securing your data when there is a breach or data loss incident can be quick and easy.

IMS Rubrik includes backup and recovery, continuous data protection, ransomware recovery, replication and disaster recovery, virtualized environments, as well as Windows and Unix protection.

Reach out to us today to learn more about our solutions and the importance of cybersecurity. 


CU Employee Retention During the Great Resignation

 

The discussions surrounding employee retention in light of the recent Great Resignation call into question several core tenants of the hiring process and those who are involved in it. And while many hiring experts say the worst of the movement took place during the latter part of 2021, the lack of headlines doesn’t necessarily mean we’re out of the woods. In fact, according to Fortune, resignation numbers from May 2022 are virtually the same as they were at the end of 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic – and several other global and market-based factors – created new lenses through which many employees are viewing their current professional positions and the job openings in their preferred fields.

But what has that meant for those in the banking and financial industries? Let’s go through some of the ways the Great Resignation could be impacting your credit union, and how you can move forward with some helpful employee retention strategies.

The Great Attrition? The Great Renegotiation? The Great Realignment?

The Financial Brand shared some helpful insights about the latest developments in the labor movement. The first thing they noticed is the name – the Great Resignation – keeps getting tweaked in an attempt to accurately convey the current hiring and recruiting climate. But whether news sources are calling it the Great Renegotiation, Realignment, or some other evocative term, there’s really one central theme: businesses have a demand for specific talent, and there aren’t enough willing workers to keep up with that demand.

This dialogue may get tricky, but it’s a necessary step in the right direction for many financial institutions and could bring about substantive change in the future.

Redefining the Workplace for Employee Retention

Remote work was a necessity as little as two years ago, but the farther we get from the worst of the COVID shutdowns, the more banks and credit unions are faced with choosing what they want to define as the workplace. There’s now no way to deny that a great number of tasks can be done remotely and have been. However, many industries still value having employees come into the office or another business-centric work location.

But when about 3 out of every 5 employees across U.S. industries has looked for a job in the past 12 months, it’s a clear sign that your current employees may not think they are being served as well as they are serving their employers right now.

Action Items to Increase Employee Retention

The top survey items that current employees looking at their options are saying they would leave their current job for one that is more flexible, both in hours and in the work location. These desires are followed closely by things like more pay transparency, a greater focus on sustainability, and comprehensive DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) strategies.

When you break this list down, it’s really saying two things. First, the work-life balance that exists currently is not desirable or optimal for employees. And second, more and more people are looking for jobs with company cultures that show their commitment to fair, sustainable, and transparent business practices overall.

Employee retention amid the Great Resignation can also be boosted by evaluating your communication channels. Are your managers and leaders truly listening to the concerns of those who report to them? How many employees have brought up similar issues in strategy and engagement improvement meetings? Are your leaders conducting critical research into these issues and providing feedback or alternative solutions?

Employee trust is rising again, and that trend must continue in order to keep your best and brightest employed at your credit union. Your employees are expected to learn new technologies and techniques that will improve workflows and allow your credit union to better serve its members, but you also must look behind you. Are you providing the same experience for your staff? Can they count on you to grow and change as they need?

Competitive Hiring Practices Are a Must

From entry-level to C-Suite hiring, the current market means that your credit union will have fewer interested applicants and less time to make a great offer before your ideal candidate accepts another position. A strong offer right out of the gate shows your candidates that you are serious, and can show that your CU is willing to be direct and transparent about the compensation, benefits, and responsibilities that come with the role.

Digital Solutions Are Leading the Way

Many employees (and members) are looking for credit unions to meet them where they are. Phone conversations can oftentimes be replaced with helpful chatbots, internal and member-facing digital communication and navigation tools, and other digital solutions that cut down immensely on the frustrations your employees experience with their teams and the members they interact with.

It also often cuts down on the time these employees and members are spending on these calls trying to navigate the loan application process or work through strategic issues. Traditions are great when it comes to company culture, but antiquated communication for the sake of “keeping things the same” isn’t going to appeal to the largest portion of those who are joining the workforce today.

Top-Notch CU Technology Is Your Partner in the Employee Retention Game

We hear it all the time – these are the days when everyone wants to work smarter, not harder. And that often means leveraging technology to augment (not replace) your skilled and specialized employees wherever possible.

Private cloud services are helping credit unions all over the country create sustainable and stable options for back-end protocols and processes like data discovery, IaaS, and anomaly detection.

What can IMS help you with today?


International Credit Union Day 2022: Spotlighting Financial Empowerment

 

There are only 10 days until International Credit Union Day! Every year on October 20th, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) organize this day, and it often includes credit union participation in all kinds of activities like contests, fundraisers, open houses, picnics, volunteer opportunities, and more.

The theme for 2022 is “Empower Your Financial Future with a Credit Union.” We thought this would be a great time to talk about financial empowerment and how you can use this movement to create positive momentum for your credit union and its members.

What Is Financial Empowerment?

More than 1 billion people around the world are still “unbanked.” And credit unions are the perfect institution to change that. Financial empowerment is a journey that your CU can help members take on with confidence.

Financial empowerment, at its core, is the feeling of being in control of your own financial situation. After recessions and a pandemic, many people are not feeling particularly confident about their finances, even if they were in a stable financial situation before, during, or even after these global crises.

Financial empowerment is created through education and information. There are several studies being talked about right now that all say similar things: more money doesn’t mean you will be smarter with your finances or more financially stable. If you give someone an exorbitant amount of money but don’t teach them how to use it to their advantage, both for today and for the future, you’ve given them a one-time gift. But if you can help impart some knowledge and skills to your credit union members, you’ll be able to help them reach financial empowerment, and rather than a one-time gift, you will have given them the tools to create investments into their own financial health and their futures.

Get Involved with ICU Day

Fall is a busy time for all of us – the seasons are changing, school just started, and the holidays are right around the corner. If your credit union still wants to get involved this ICU Day, CUNA can help with that. You can check out their free International Credit Union Day resources here.

You can also reach out to leaders and businesses in your community and ask them to get involved. Sponsor a financial education event, and create some digital or printed resources that can help educate members and potential members about what financial empowerment means and how they can take advantage of your CU’s services to reach their financial goals.

Connecting with those who need help on their financial journeys is what credit unions were designed to do. What are your plans for ICU Day 2022?

Keep Your CU Moving Forward for Your Members

ICU Day is drawing closer, and you want to ensure that your credit union and its technologies are running at peak efficiency. And when it comes to combatting the issues in unbanked communities, building trust is a key component of your success. IMS can help with that.

As your credit union solutions experts, we can offer a range of digital solutions tailored specifically to credit unions and their business operations.

Our Polaris Sonar compliance solution is a new SaaS application that uses machine learning to discover, classify, and report on sensitive member data without impacting your day-to-day operations.


4 Ways the Great Resignation Impacts Cybersecurity Concerns

 

There had been a lot of talk about the impact of the Great Resignation, and much of it centers around hiring practices, salary negotiations, and employee retention and turnover. But there are residual effects stemming from these mass resignations, and some of the most important effects involve your cybersecurity operations.

Let’s talk about some of the biggest ways the Great Resignation is impacting cybersecurity concerns, and what your organization should be doing about it.

High Employee Turnover = Higher Data Loss

Data loss is always a concern after a resignation. Some of it is intentional – employees take data out of spite or even to use at their next job. But there are also many instances where data is lost simply because the former employee didn’t store the data properly – they stored it on their work computer rather than in the shared files or department-specific locations, or maybe they were using a personal device to have work conversations or store other important data.

This data can be used to sabotage a previous employer or to gain an advantage over a new employer. Workplace culture is changing, and because younger generations are tech-savvy by the time they hit middle school, your data can be shared, copied, or destroyed very easily by a disgruntled employee, or even just by a former worker who was unaware their personal computer has the only copy of certain files. Safeguarding your data and teaching your staff to use and store it in the proper place and through proper channels can help mitigate this risk.

Because of these increased data cybersecurity concerns, your credit union should be using the best data access practices. The primary component of these practices should be reviewing the access your current and former employees have or had and making sure they only have necessary access moving forward.

When you do this, think about how each employee’s role and responsibilities have changed during their time at your credit union. Maybe they needed a higher level of access to member account details when they were in more of a customer service role, but now that they are running your marketing campaigns, that access is no longer necessary.

The Cybersecurity Industry Isn’t Immune to the Great Resignation

Another reason the Great Resignation is creating cybersecurity concerns is that the cybersecurity industry is also affected by these mass exoduses. Many cybersecurity professionals have also left their positions in the last few years.

Being short-staffed in the IT department also puts your credit union at risk of attack. Things can fall through the cracks; your former employees could negatively impact your system (either intentionally or unintentionally).

Because the stress of the pandemic affected certain professional roles and industries, like cybersecurity, at a higher rate, many employees are leaving the field. And when hundreds or even thousands of IT professionals leave the industry, it increases the threat to businesses from outside sources that are also aware of the shortages.

This decrease in cybersecurity team numbers also means your response to threats will likely be slower and less effective. No operations run as smoothly or efficiently when you are missing team members. That’s why it’s important to start thinking about how you want to invest your credit union’s IT budget – IMS has a host of services that can fill in the gaps left by employees resigning.

Remote Work Increases Risks

Remote work is more common than ever before, and that means more cybersecurity risk for your credit union.

While it may be nice not to have the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining a remote worker’s devices, that also means you can’t control where or how your data is stored and used, especially once that employee has resigned.

Remote workers are also working from a variety of different servers and networks – home, local coffee shops or libraries, etc. And this means your data and systems are being exposed to more varied risks. You also can’t control the security parameters on these employees’ home networks in the same way that you can monitor and improve your in-house network and servers.

Gaps between Employees and Tech

More and more organizations are increasing their IT and cybersecurity budgets, and this has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and the Great Resignation. Now is the time to create the structure and strategy that we didn’t have time for during the first days of the pandemic.

When your credit union evaluates its cybersecurity spending, it’s important to ensure that your technology purchases are compatible with your workforce.

You can implement the newest and best technology in the world, but if you don’t do so with a strategy and a timeline in place to help you and your employees work through the transitions successfully, you are wasting valuable resources.

Process management should be a priority when implementing new technology, especially amid mounting cybersecurity concerns. Your staff needs to know how and when to use these new tools, so they aren’t creating new gaps in your digital defenses.

Offload Some Data Security Expenses by Partnering with IMS and Its IaaS Solutions

Maintaining high-level success in your credit union’s business operations during a time of high turnover and increasing employee recruiting and retention expenses mean you will need to decrease your costs elsewhere.

That’s where IMS comes in. With our Infrastructure-as-a-Service package, you can pay as you go and create a customized service that includes:

  • Maintained access to your applications during disasters and outages
  • Decrease expenses by only paying for what you need
  • Free up your team to focus on expansion, or employee recruitment and retention
  • Leave the troubleshooting and software upgrading to IMS and increase your credit union’s stability, reliability, and supportability
  • Improved peace of mind – IMS has you covered, through any cybersecurity issues and all your employee changes

Ransomware Concerns: Why You Should Be Fixing Data Management Problems

 

Ransomware concerns are often categorized as cybersecurity issues rather than a result of data management problems. But there are emerging insights from the cybersecurity industry that underscore the importance of data management and other proactive technology programs and software in the fight against ransomware threats.

Here’s why you should be using data management to combat ransomware threats.

The Cost of a Ransomware Attack Is More Than Just the Ransom

Ransomware costs businesses more in the resulting downtime than it does in the ransom payment, according to TechCrunch.

Downtime causes a ripple effect that can be felt throughout your organization. From incident response measures to legal fees and support, not to mention the impact to customer experience, downtime caused by ransomware can get pricey fast.

Depending on the size of your business, that ransom amount can also be quite high. Your data management problems are only exacerbated by a successful ransomware attack.

Credit unions and other financial institutions are seeing a huge uptick in ransomware attacks, and that trend doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon.

IMS can help set you up for success and save up to 80% of primary storage costs, leaving you with more capital to run your business.

Good Data Management Is Always Learning

If your credit union were a smart house, data management is the technology that runs all your settings and cycles. Imagine your smart thermostat, for a moment. You can set it to learn how you manage your home’s temperature throughout the day. Pretty soon, the system will use these patterns to create a schedule that best fits your usage.

That’s how IMS’s machine learning works with your data. The software learns how your credit union employees and executives use data and where it travels, and it will notice when things go off track, like when someone tries to hack into your servers or gain access to sensitive data without authorization.

As your data management problems emerge, your IMS software can help you navigate to the most comprehensive solutions through compliance and data discovery tools.

Don’t Forget about the Big Picture

Your data is likely housed across physical servers, cloud systems, and other legacy processes. But because these fragmented processes can’t give you a good idea of how much data you have, or what it looks like in its entirety, you are setting your credit union up for failure.

To continue the house analogy: imagine you are at home, and a fire breaks out. When you submit your losses to your home insurance, you also submit photo and video evidence of your assets that were in the home – televisions, gaming systems, children’s toys, clothes, furniture, kitchen appliances, etc. Your insurance company then cuts you a check for your loss of those items.

If you don’t have this big picture view of your home, you may miss important things that were lost.

Your credit union data is the same. If you have no concept of the scope of your data, where it is, and how much exists, ransomware attackers can steal and corrupt files that are crucial to your credit union operations, but that you didn’t realize were missing until much later. Data management problems often require looking at specific data items and areas, but also need the context of your big picture data usage and storage to use as a framework or blueprint.

Visibility and pattern analysis (like those solutions offered through IMS Data Discovery) can show you what’s happening in every part of your data management system. Once you have this framework, you can see how your data is being used, who is using it, and when. And with machine learning, those patterns we talked about earlier – and any disruptions that happen within them – are easily traceable and visible.

The Role of Data Backup & Recovery

Preventing attacks should be at the top of the list of ransomware concerns. Much like driving a car or keeping your house locked, it’s easier to use defensive tactics to prevent issues, rather than to wait until the issues arise to address them. Even so, your credit union data is still likely going to be targeted by bad actors, and that means your reaction to an attack has to be as stronger or stronger than your attempts at prevention were.

Two important pieces of pulling yourself out of data management problems include data backup and disaster recovery.

Because ransomware often targets the data that will halt operations and cripple your credit union’s business, your data backups need to be housed safely, and at least one copy should – by best practice – be housed offsite.

And disaster recovery is your failsafe. Once the cybersecurity walls have been breached, disaster recovery is your most important next step.

Ransomware cripples people and businesses by leveraging the lifeblood of their operations – digital data. If you don’t set up ways to get that data back without going through the hackers, your credit union could face huge issues, up to and including the shutdown of your business operations.

Invest in the Best Credit Union Data Management Solutions

Data management problems require multi-faceted solutions. And IMS is your guide for cohesive and comprehensive data management strategies that fit your credit union.

For those looking to increase your effectiveness at preparing for and preventing ransomware incidents, IMS offers Anomaly Detection through a technology called Polaris Radar. You’ll be able to recover faster while increasing your system’s intelligence. See how your data moves and changes and let Polaris Radar use machine learning to detect and alert you of anomalous behavior. 


Growth-Driven Marketing Ideas for CUs in 2022

 

There are dozens of reasons credit unions run marketing campaigns. Your board of directors could be having you focus on increasing current member engagement, introducing new products or services, and overall growth.

Many credit unions are focusing on a growth-driven marketing track as we move through 2022. Now that businesses, suppliers, and global economies are slowly recovering as we get further and further from the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic, we can focus on recouping some of that growth and expansion time that we lost over the last two years.

In that spirit, our team here at IMS wanted to share some growth-driven marketing ideas and strategies for credit unions to use before the year is up.

Break Down Silos & Create a Holistic Marketing Strategy

In a recent episode of the CUNA News Podcast, James Gilbert shared his thoughts on the importance of using your data and assets to create a unified front when it comes to growth-driven marketing strategies.

When it comes to creating a marketing strategy, many credit unions use a top-down approach, where the board of directors or executive staff share their plans and goals. While this is a great start, certain initiatives will take priority over others, and that means the resources used to successfully market your credit union will be divided unevenly.

This is a good thing! If you are focusing your credit union marketing on increasing the number of loans, there should be efforts from other sectors within your CU that are also supporting that. Your social media and credit card usage personnel will need to create cohesive messaging that speaks to your current goals.

In a perfect world, growth happens across all channels – you increase the number of members, loans, credit cards, savings accounts, etc. all at once. But because trends in personal financial management change rapidly, your marketing strategy must account for those things too.

Embracing Omnichannel Solutions

In today’s vastly connected digital landscape, omnichannel communication is crucial to your growth-driven marketing.

Omnichannel marketing means your credit union brand is reaching members and prospects through multiple communication channels, which can include text, social media, phone calls, email, print ads, and video assets.

Giving your members access to you via multiple touchpoints can help you reach a more diverse crowd – they’ll feel comfortable using their preferred methods to interact with your brand, rather than having to go out of their way to download new apps or create new user accounts on separate platforms to enjoy your content and services.

Focus on Personalization

Today, consumers – whether they’re shopping for a pair of shoes or a new home – are looking for solutions that fit them – personalization is a great way to take your credit union marketing to the next level and reach more people.

Think of marketing your credit union the way you’d market a home – every home has unique offerings, and every buyer is looking for certain features in the home they want to purchase.

The same is true in any B2C relationship – your credit union has to show each member that you are here to solve their specific problems and offer personalized products, services, and assistance.

Personalization can also be automated – you can create campaigns just for those members who are looking for a car loan, or who recently opened a checking account or signed up for your credit card. Rather than a generic “Thanks for doing business with us!” message, you can tailor print materials, emails, and chat messages to include specific details and insights about where they are in their personal financial journey.

Cross-Promotion, Not Cross-Posting

Your credit union marketing might include a host of different platforms, tools, and social media accounts. And each of these platforms should be seen as unique, just like your members are unique. When your members log onto their social media accounts and apps, they have different goals with each one.

And your growth-driven marketing campaigns should take this into account. Cross-promotion is the act of taking similar marketing content or messages and tailoring them to the platform you are featuring them on. Many credit unions and other businesses make the mistake of posting the exact same things across all their public platforms – this is called cross-posting.

And while cross-posting does get your brand out there and on people’s feeds, it’s not serving each platform effectively.

An in-depth LinkedIn post about how to prevent credit card fraud, for example, should be created with a much different message than an Instagram or Twitter post. Though this seems like it should be common knowledge, social media marketing is time-consuming, and it will often feel easier to create one message and one graphic, and then share them across your CU’s accounts.

But if your credit union marketing strategies are aimed toward member growth, cross-promotion can make each post on each platform that much more powerful!

As Your CU Grows, So Does Your Data – IMS Data Discovery Solutions Can Help

With credit union growth comes the growth of your data as well. But storage is only half the battle because the data you collected has significant value. It can help you understand your members and your business operations more comprehensively.

Many growth-driven marketing strategies rely on data and analytics to create targeted campaigns intended to reach the best audience for your business while offering your members and prospects content that they view as valuable.

The IMS DataArchiver is a great tool for managing and storing your data efficiently without breaking the bank. This SaaS solution can save up to 80% of primary data storage costs while still protecting your data from ransomware and other threats, giving you built-in data comprehension, deduplication, and visualization tools.

Anyone at your credit union may access the DataArchiver through a secure portal that includes full-text search capabilities, audit trails, and more.

Use your data and IMS’s private cloud solutions to work smarter, not harder this year. 


Cybersecurity Best Practices for Credit Union Lending

 

Your credit union members are likely more worried about making sound and safe financial decisions, especially as housing and living costs rise with an unprecedented hike in inflation. In the last several decades, these costs have quadrupled in most areas of the country, while wages have yet to even double. That means your members and prospective members are looking for smart and secure lending options.

July through September is the peak lending season for most financial institutions, and you don’t want to alienate prospects by employing less-than-optimal lending cybersecurity.

There are several ways to incorporate cybersecurity into your credit union lending process and practices.

Start with a Good Foundation – Or Build It

Large, for-profit banks are the only organizations in the financial sector that can afford to create a proprietary system for loan processes. The rest of us, including your credit union, must rely on strategic planning, and smart tools.

Lending cybersecurity, like cybersecurity in other high-risk industries, can’t successfully rely on DIY programs to create a solid digital wall of protection around networks and systems within it.

Your cybersecurity program should have all-encompassing strategies, not just piecemeal solutions. Think of it this way: while you can build a boat with several hundred pieces of wood or metal and create a strong enough hull for the boat to float, you’ve now got hundreds of seams and potential cracks just waiting to be breached. Whereas, if you create the hull using something more akin to one seamless piece, your chances of water seeping in are much lower.

A good foundation includes things like reviewing your current digital landscape and cybersecurity. The first step is looking for potential security gaps. These gaps can be interwoven throughout this landscape: in data collection, storage, and encryption protocols as well as third-party vendor interfaces, mobile apps and platforms, servers, cameras, social media accounts, and more.

These things need to be audited regularly, starting from the first days of your newly integrated systems.

Simplicity is Key – But There’s a Limit

Lending cybersecurity mainly relies on the implementation of practices, education, and technology solutions that minimize the risk of a cyberattack. If you have fewer holes in your systems, that a hacker will find a way through them is going to be much smaller.

That’s why simplicity in your lending practices and tasks is key. The loan process is complicated by nature, but the more seamless you can make it for your members and your staff, the better the outcome will be.

User error is often touted as one of the most common causes of data breaches. The goal of your loan programs and the steps you employ to carry them out should be to create a user-friendly experience without skimping on network security and other precautionary measures.

For example, employing multi-factor authentication in parts of your data and lending information collection process is inherently more complicated than single-factor authentication, but you are trading safety for convenience. Two-factor authentication is still the best choice when it comes to collecting and storing lending data.

Finding the balance between “easy-to-use” and “optimal protection” should be the simple target you aim for in credit union lending cybersecurity.

Here’s a great article from Medium about cybersecurity in the mortgage process. It goes into more detail about how complexity is the “worst enemy of security.”

Automating Compliance Increases Lending Cybersecurity

Lending cybersecurity is not the only way to protect your credit union loan processes. In fact, much like the risks for cyberattacks have increased, lending compliance issues are also on the rise.

Because compliance is crucial to the efficacy of your credit union, maintaining that credibility should always be a top priority regardless of whether your credit union is growing, merging, or simply focused on optimizing current business operations.

There are several benefits to automating your compliance tasks. Automation is primarily used to ensure that there is no impact to normal operations and production. There is also no learning curve – compliance automation means machine learning drives for you – it is constantly improving and identifying potential violations of internal compliance policies by tracking sensitive data nd where it goes.

By automating your compliance processes with tools and software like IMS’s Polaris Sonar, you can quickly reduce sensitive data exposure without having to add to your current infrastructure or allot employee time towards completing these tasks.

Anomaly Detection – Recover Faster

Cyberattacks on financial institutions are inevitable – your credit union holds a wealth of assets and hackers are always looking for ways to exploit your security systems to take some of those assets for themselves.

And with ransomware on the rise, it’s important to implement the most effective strategy for recognizing ransomware attacks early and defending against them.

IMS has anomaly detection solutions with Polaris Radar to track your data changes over time, replace manual recoveries for minimal business disruption, and increase intelligence with machine learning.

Make sure your credit union lending and all financial data is never used against you for ransom. Learn more about partnering with IMS today by requesting a consultation.


3 Benefits of Data Discovery

 

Like any business, a credit union’s data is an important asset for its operations. But if you don’t have the ability or expertise to analyze that data and use it effectively, you’re just sitting in a library waiting for the books to teach you something without you ever opening one.

Data discovery is the process of analyzing your credit union’s data using visual aids and other tools that can help those in your business who are less technologically inclined understand the insights housed within that collection of data. The insights gleaned from good data discovery can help your credit union’s bottom line and your employee performance, and even member satisfaction.

There are many reasons why data discovery is essential to the growth and success of your credit union operations. Let’s talk about some of the biggest benefits of data discovery for your credit union.

You Can Better Understand Your Credit Union Data Logistics

One of the top benefits of data discovery is the knowledge you, your employees, and even your board of Directors will gain on the logistics of your credit union data.

Much like the concept of “the Internet,” how, why, and where your data is stored and used can be a difficult concept to grasp, even though you are likely using or interacting with that data every day.

With data discovery, you can understand where all your different data types are stored and who has access to them. This aids in security matters, as well as productivity. One of the easiest ways to lose momentum in a work environment is to not have the tools or resources you need to complete your tasks.

You can also know which data is being transmitted, how it’s being moved around, and over which channels in your technology network. Data quality starts with data inventory, and a good data discovery tool can help with both of those things.

Data Discovery Reduces Inconsistencies Caused by Multiple Information Silos

Your credit union likely stores and shares information across multiple information silos. Think of it as a filing cabinet system. While the information in these silos may be organized, they aren’t all housed in the same data unit.

These information silos can create serious data issues as you try to aggregate the data you have stored across them all. Inconsistencies in your systems can lead to issues with duplicate information, incorrect versions of dated data, and more. The ability to reconcile these information silos and the data within them is important to your credit union when it comes to keeping data up to date and consistent.

This is even more true now that we are in the age of remote work. If your information silos don’t sync up, you could have staff members or credit union members working off old or incorrect data.

Competitive Advantage Comes from Data-Driven Approaches

The biggest benefits of data discovery come from the competitive advantages you can glean from good data. The days of blanket marketing ads that target whole regions – and even countries – are long gone.

Your approach to data discovery is one of the most valuable tools you can use to grow your credit union member base, offer targeted and high-demand products and services, and teach your staff how to meet the needs of your members and the greater community.

Much like the data housed in information silos must be pulled together, so must your data discovery tool enable you to find the insights that help your credit union operations improve.

In many businesses, certain departments know more (or less) about different initiatives and workflows than others. When this occurs, your operations can lose productivity and even credit union members as you try to hunt down the data and insights you need to form a clear picture of your next steps. Data discovery is a great way to close those gaps in your data analysis.

Data discovery helps drive your understanding of your credit union’s competitive advantages. When you’re able to look at the big picture your full range of data makes, you can create solutions that not only benefit your credit union’s business but can also create differentiators in your market. Data discovery is what positions credit unions to better service specific people and communities than big banks and universal automation do.

IMS Data Archiver: The Key to CU Data Discovery Done Right

The IMS Data Archiver is a powerful data discovery tool that has been tailored to credit union needs. Simple and cost-effective, IMS Data Archiver can save you up to 80% of your primary storage costs, reduce backup times, and can help you manage unlimited file servers in a distributed environment with zero end-user disruption.

This tool includes several powerful tools, a few of which are:

  • Ransomware protection
  • Data life cycle management
  • Built-in data visualization tools
  • Multi-remote site management
  • Data compliance and e-discovery tools
  • Data compression and de-duplication

Check out the data discovery tool and other IMS protection and compliance services on our website or give us a call today.


Hidden Ways Your Credit Union Data Is at Risk

 

The importance of protecting your credit union data can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, there are many ways your data can be stolen, corrupted, or lost. From less-than-vigilant password protocols to accidental deletions, malware, and more – each of these threats presents unique challenges and accesses specific vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity and other data systems and puts your data at risk.

There are also many undetected ways you put your data at risk. Many loopholes and vulnerabilities are often found after they’ve been exploited if you don’t know where to look or what to look for. Let’s discuss some of the hidden ways your credit union data is at risk.

Personal Device Usage

Personal devices are used for business projects and functions during working hours but are not company property. There are tons of different types of personal devices, and most of them are connected. This includes things like smartphones, laptops and tablets, smartwatches and accessories, and more.

When you allow your employees to use their own devices to carry out credit union business, you are putting your data at risk of being lost or stolen. Personal devices also aren’t held to the same security and update standards as your company-specific technology.

Device management is a major piece of post-COVID cybersecurity. Each device that connects to your credit union’s network is creating opportunities for breaches because it puts your CU and your member information in more hands, and not all of those hands will treat that data correctly. Whether the data is lost through malicious activities or unintentional employee mishandling, it’s important to think through the amount and types of devices that you want to be able to connect to your data and network systems.

Insufficient Backup Policies

Backups are diverse and indispensable tools for safeguarding your credit union data. But that doesn’t mean every backup works the same way.

When you are exploring and auditing your backup policies, it’s important to not only think about the time and convenience of the backup functions – making sure your backups are run regularly, capturing all your credit union data, and not hindering other network functions.

But it is also wise to think about how long it will take for your backups to restore your data. If an onsite server fails, do you know how long it will take for your offsite backups to restore it? Will it take a full 24 hours? Do you have adequate offsite backups?

The mistake here is installing backup software or protocols and then forgetting about it. These systems, though they should never fail, should be regularly checked to ensure that you are capturing all the data you need to be backing up. Business processes change, and IT protocols are always evolving.

IMS offers backup services tailored specifically to credit unions. That means these systems were built with your specific data types in mind. Your data backups are automated and your data is secured and stored offsite at an IMS data center.

Digital Supply Chain Weaknesses

The digital supply chain is essentially the network that is created throughout the supply chain to increase integration, dynamic processes, and predictive supply chain operations.

If you have third-party software that you used to create your credit union’s app, which then supplies products and services to your enrolled members, this is just one example of the different ways digital content and programming can intersect with and affect your cybersecurity and your credit union data. For example, a breach in 2021 involved the Kaseya supply chain. Kaseya offers remote management services that many credit unions in the USA use.

Understaffed and Overburdened IT Staff

Credit unions aren’t like big banks. Some are standalone small businesses with a handful of staff members that are diligently serving their communities. Other credit unions are large and can be run much like a corporation.

But right now, there are staffing shortages everywhere. The pandemic has caused what many are calling the Great Resignation, and that means more people than ever are overburdened at work.

And while this is a big hurdle to overcome no matter what industry or department you work in, IT shortages can be much more expensive than just the overtime and loss of productivity costs.

If your IT department isn’t able to keep up with all the day-to-day maintenance, employee and member requests, and other top priority items, something is going to eventually slip through the cracks.

The hiring shortages and issues aren’t going away quickly, and that means technology-based solutions should be your next step. Luckily, that’s what IMS has been doing for credit unions and credit union data for years.

Combat Known and Unknown Data Threats with IMS Today

IMS is the leading data management, backup, disaster recovery, and IaaS service provider for credit unions. Whether you are trying to increase protection from bad actors, unhappy employees, or unprecedented threats like staff mistakes and natural disasters, IMS can help.

Our private cloud services have been designed with credit union data in mind:

With these and other services, tailored specifically to your CU needs, IMS is the perfect solution to help assuage your data fears as we become increasingly reliant on technology and stored data solutions.