Finding Your Quality Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution

As the cloud computing network grows in financial institutions, so do the methods cybercriminals use to breach important, sensitive information. It’s not fun to think about threats, but what’s less fun is thinking about how you’ll snap back after one. 

The financial services sector is the most frequent target of cyberattacks, and scammers and fraudsters are always becoming more diligent and creative. Data breaches have become more insidious and calculated, and in the dire case that you do need help, you need a backup solution that won’t seriously disrupt the day-to-day of your business. 

Physical data storage is a burden to credit unions that need to focus on member value, but cloud backup storage and off-site replication can help. Your credit union is unique, and so is your backup solution.

Not all backup solutions are alike.

Cloud systems are more secure than traditional IT, and when monitored, audited, and updated correctly, you can shift your focus to member-related solutions. Our technology and team empower yours, so you can take advantage of the cloud and provide value to your members. 

For example, credit unions are taking notice of ever-changing member demographics and the ways that younger generations can be reached from your credit union. When your staff is freed up to focus on solutions that provide value to members, you can watch your member demographic grow in new, exciting ways.

Rubrik powers our backup solution, a system that stores only the information you need, which ensures you won’t be paying for unnecessary storage. In physical and virtual environments, Rubrik provides on-premise backup and off-site replication to the secure cloud. 

In the case that you do need disaster recovery assistance, the IMS Support team can assist 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how you can benefit from a custom data solution. 


Developing Your Adaptive Solution with IaaS

In an ever globally-connecting world and one that is always “on,” you’ll need the right approach to innovation in order to stay afloat. The behaviors, expectations, and needs of customers are changing, and credit unions must adapt if they want to remain competitive.

A Deloitte report on the global banking outlook for 2020 refers to credit unions as the “trusted custodians of customers’ assets,” which extends far beyond just finances. Your members trust you to protect their sensitive information. As a financial institution within a rapidly-developing and globally connected network, you need to ensure that data will stay safe.

But in order to manage all the moving parts related to software, equipment, data security, server hosting, and more, it can be easy for the focus to shift away from members.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) eliminates the need to set up and manage a data center with flexible management and pricing. With these benefits, you can sleep easy knowing that you’ve covered the areas you need to be protected. 

Innovation is not about solving problems on the fly.

A system that anticipates your needs and provides security can put your credit union in a position to acclimate to developing trends and issues that crop up within the “open banking revolution.”

With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), you’ll eliminate the need for setting up and managing a data center. Our model means that you only pay for as much as you need, so you’ll be able to harness the services that you absolutely need. 

The IaaS model provides: 

  • Custom, on-demand IT infrastructure 
  • Software upgrades and equipment troubleshooting
  • Self-service, enterprise-grade 
  • Data and application security

This way, you won’t be “over or under-provisioning,” and you’ll be able to optimize your own use of the cloud. With IMS you can pass over the development, disaster recovery, and production, and stay on top of the technology while keeping the primary focus on your members. Let’s talk about your needs. 


Making the Most of the Cloud as a Credit Union

 

In 2020, if you haven’t switched to the cloud, there’s no way around it. You’ll likely be doing it soon! If you’re wary of the cloud, take a closer look at the major benefits of a cloud computing solution. 

Understanding the moving parts of your holistic solution

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) incorporates the hosting services, backup, disaster recovery, and data security that work in a holistic way to protect your data and provide insurance in any instances of disaster.

The number one benefit of a cloud computing solution is the ability to save on hardware costs. In addition, your costs will be predictable because you’ll only be paying for what you need on a monthly basis. By eliminating the upfront data storage, you’ll save a great deal of money by only paying for the components that you need in order to optimize your cloud costs. Our enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure houses your data, but it’s yours to structure.

Essentially, backup to disaster recovery centers means you’re doubled up with a superior backup solution. In the dire case that you need disaster recovery, the cloud will not only help you to function more fluidly on a daily basis but also have the ability to snap back during times of disaster. This means less time spent managing solutions and less time spent sending valuable team members over to figure out those solutions. A responsive system that jumps in when you need it most.

Relying on an experienced team to assist minimizes downtime. You not only need the hardware infrastructure to perform disaster recovery smoothly and efficiently, but you also need the technical expertise to perform that recovery with minimal downtime. Our IaaS offerings provide a robust setup that will function on-demand to adjust to any specific requests, 24/7.

When credit union data storage solutions aren’t agile, they aren’t leveling up with the competition. 

As a result, it may become more difficult to reach younger demographics who don’t want interruptions in their experience with your credit union when you’re fielding issues and expending resources with expensive on-site storage.

If you’re looking for flexibility and need a custom solution for the cloud, we’re available to deliver and design those solutions to a wide swath of credit unions. Let’s talk about the solutions that will work best for you and your credit union.


Mastering the Challenge of Disaster Recovery

 

Credit unions are no stranger to the physics of Murphy’s law. If something can go wrong, it will. In an age where cybercrime is hotly discussed and natural disasters crop up when they are least expected, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks of losing data as a credit union.

Risks can be natural or manmade, across a wide spectrum—from wildfires to hackers, a comprehensive disaster recovery solution should cover a range of potential disasters. However, that solution does not need to be extremely specific. The most common errors include natural disasters, cybercrime, and human error. The specific risk you’ll need to prevent is never certain—that’s why disaster recovery functions as such an important form of insurance. 

A disaster recovery solution shouldn’t be bulky and expensive. 

The most common solution(s) for disaster recovery purposes are typically physical locations. However, physical data storage drives up costs in the form of equipment,  connections, and employees that are in charge of managing those hefty physical elements. In addition, when a physical approach is taken, multiple physical locations are used, further driving up costs.

Your customers expect excellence when they access your services through digital channels and share their valuable information with you. Those requirements translate to the safety of their data. You don’t want to lose customers since you failed to implement a solution that protected their information.

These expectations stem from our everyday conveniences—how did you feel the last time your internet went down? Customers expect the same fluidity. When you develop a disaster recovery solution, the effectiveness of the solution should mean that customers don’t experience hiccups in their digital experience. 

While you can’t prepare for a specific disaster, you can prepare for the worst.

The disaster recovery challenge is characterized by the way one responds to the breach. If a breach or disaster does occur, learn how to respond and recover from cybersecurity incidents

If you haven’t made disaster recovery a priority for your credit union this year, you may want to consider its role in your business: financial institutions are often the target of cybercrime and natural disasters are never predictable. Plus, there are many advantages to prioritizing disaster recovery.

With disaster recovery come the following benefits:

  • Minimized downtime and rapid business restoration
  • Near-zero data loss with on-site backups and real-time replication
  • Our secure branch communications allow immediate connections

Disaster recovery shouldn’t be a difficult term to hear, because it is more about planning than it is about the actual scenario. When the need for your disaster recovery solution to kick into place arises, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve implemented the best possible planning beforehand.

Essentially, disaster recovery plans are a form of insurance. We help to ensure that the challenges you face can be remedied smoothly and efficiently—the IMS Crash Response team is ready 24/7 to respond to any disasters. Find out more about how you can optimize your disaster recovery response.


Rising Trends in Email Scams and Phishing

From large to small, the financial services sector is often the target of email phishing schemes and other malicious attacks, and credit unions are no exception. The FBI reports that Business Email Compromise or Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC) has seen a surge in those types of attacks, now a “$26 billion scam.” These exorbitant losses have prompted the FBI and law enforcement to become highly versed in the nature of these scams and how they are perpetuated. Still, fraudsters are always using more cunning methods to successfully access sensitive information.

Business Email Compromise is on the rise

Account takeovers are a part of this influx in Business Email Compromise, though some also speculate that these account takeovers include data gathering, which is then used to create ACH files. The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) survey reports that ACH credit scams using BEC rose from 12 percent in 2017 to 33 percent in 2018. 

BEC is a robust effort on the part of fraudsters, who target those in companies with financial credentials access through a variety of measures. This may include social engineering, or grooming, combined with network intrusions. It’s a patient effort and one that continues to rapidly develop as these efforts continually seek to evade law enforcement. These fraudsters can cultivate the appearance of a relied vendor or another business, and exploit those with access to financials to provide sensitive information.

Fraudsters do their homework

It would seem that most phishing scams are obvious and avoidable, but the ingenuity of hackers and the development of new technologies and tactics indicate that companies need to stay on their toes through protection and cybersecurity education. Those seeking to infiltrate accounts and information will take the time to even look at social media accounts and other marketing to understand the culture of a company.

Email fraudsters have become savvier at making payroll fraud schemes appear to be official direct deposit submission forms, and might include an email with details requesting changes to direct deposit information. When that information is provided, the information points to another account, often a prepaid card. For example, one type of email scam includes a link to a spoof login page. When employees input their credentials to this page, the fraudster can use this information to access other employees’ personal information. 

In other cases, the fraudster might not request a transfer of funds. Rather, they are looking to obtain W-2 forms and Personally Identifiable Information.

Even while fraudsters are developing new methods of getting in, they’re also developing new methods of getting away. Domestic wire transfers have become more common than international ones, as law enforcement is now savvier at detecting those transactions when they are international since there is a slight delay in processing. During that lag in time, law enforcement is able to step in and stop the transfer. 

In 2018, Operation WireWire, involving the efforts of the Department of the Treasury, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, a six-month mission which resulted in dozens of arrests across the globe, and helped to recover $14 million worth in fraudulent wire transfers. 

Steps for prevention

The efforts of fraudsters have a significant impact on the global economy. Learning how to stop these malicious attacks on your business not only helps to ensure your members’ well-being but contributes to a greater purpose.

Educate your employees: 

Give employees clear, actionable instructions for looking out for the following:

  • Mismatched emails or URLs that don’t represent the business or person it claims to be sent from;
  • Any misspellings or unfamiliar URLs should be an immediate red flag;
  • Get versed in the most common leading BEC email keywords used in 2018;

Steps you can take:

  • Enable two-factor authentication or use another channel to verify requests for account changes.
  • Monitor finances and note any irregularities, especially missing deposits. 
  • Update all systems and keep software patches on

Being the victim of BEC can be an enormous financial loss and blow to a company.

In our compatibility with various types of credit union software, we provide an advantage to a wider berth of credit unions. We help you to provide a sense of security to your customers. 

If you’d like to learn how you can stay protected against financial cybercrime, get in touch.

Read more about why credit unions are a common target of email scams.


A New Decade in Cloud Computing

The cloud will explode in 2020, and financial services will be at the forefront of this surge. In comparison to insurance and healthcare, financial services have seen the biggest growth in cloud computing adoption “beyond basic cloud maturity.” 

LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision 2020: The Future of the Cloud Study reports that 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020. In 2020, People’s Choice Credit Union aims to be fully-digital

Gone are the days when credit unions had to worry about data storage sizing. The advent of cloud computing means that capacity is no longer a problem. 

But how can you ensure that cloud computing will be successfully incorporated into your business? How will you ensure that your members’ data will be safe?

Cybersecurity and the cloud

Cybersecurity developments in the cloud have been prepared for the potential of attackers. 

It’s understandable to be wary about the switch to cloud services when financial industries like credit unions often see data breaches. However, many misconceptions about the cloud are cause for delay in using it. In fact, research has demonstrated that cloud systems provide more security than traditional IT systems.

Benefits of cloud computing backup 

If your IT staff is fielding security breaches and abandoning other important tasks, the switch to cloud computing can help to prevent those intrusions and liberate your staff to focus on other efforts of value, such as member-focused solutions. 

Continually monitored, updated, and audited, layers of protection with the cloud system help sensitive information to stay safe. Security is a full-time gig, and your IT team won’t be able to focus on efforts of greater value if they are continually faced with issues related to cybersecurity. 

Disk-to-Disk solutions, for example, can be an effective measure in data organization and potential recovery. Agile and scalable, cloud computing can help to open up new markets as well.

Adapting to the cloud computing system

Don’t assume that the switch to cloud computing alone is safety measure enough. Proper implementation of the cloud and assistance along the way can ensure that your layers of protection are secure. 

We can help with transitioning your team to this type of system, and your employees will be able to shift their focus to efforts that improve the member experience. 

For companies that work with a large amount of sensitive information on a daily basis, cybersecurity will always be one of the biggest concerns. When you’re looking to implement a system to bolster your cybersecurity efforts, it should be a complex, multilayered approach. We can help to guide you throughout this process and ensure that you’re taking the correct steps.


Cybersecurity Developments in the Cloud

 

For some CU executives, cybersecurity is a topic that causes them to lose sleep at night.

With 2020 looming ever closer on the horizon, it’s important to be aware and prepare for the inevitability of cyber attacks on financial institutions. Cyberattacks are becoming more powerful, intricate, and in even more instances, automated. Financial institutions must now prioritize cybersecurity.

Most credit unions don’t have the strongest security systems, nor do their employees have the adequate skills and training to assess threats properly. The anxiety of CU executives largely stems from the need to catch up with these threats and adapt systems that anticipate the sophistication of these attacks and the signs that they could be experiencing a threat.

Making the switch to cloud computing 

Misconceptions about cloud computing can prevent some CU leaders from making the switch when they should. However, private cloud backup and hosting can significantly improve the nature of your disaster recovery system. By backing up your data to the cloud, you’ll be giving yourself a safety net should a data disaster strike.

Benefits of Backup:

  • With centralized configuration, you won’t be storing unnecessary data. You can specify what data needs to be backed up, rather than chipping away at your valuable investment. You’ll only secure your data the way you prefer.
  • With IMS, we leverage Disk-to-Disk solutions which help you to organize your data and easily recover it. 
  • IT Departments can free up their time to focus on more member-facing solutions, rather than maintaining a server at a physical location. 

Many believe that their cloud security is safer than it actually is. 

Once upon a time, credit unions stored their data in remote facilities. With one physical location, the risk was much more significant. Now, data is largely safe from many potential risks. However, cybersecurity threats remain one of the hottest topics concerning financial institutions, and active security management must meet the gravity of these risks.

When cloud security is properly implemented, there are many benefits to this type of system. When cloud security sees human error in configuration, this means there are gaps in the system that need to be adjusted.

If you’re running with a lean IT staff, it could be beneficial to add layers of protection to your system. Secure cloud computing measures free up IT resources to focus on providing more member value. 

Still, cybersecurity is a complex, layered system, and requires significant time and effort. Let us help guide you along the way. 


The Difference Between Credit Union Disaster Recovery And Business Continuity Planning

Most people use the terms “business continuity planning” and “disaster recovery” interchangeably, but they are two completely different strategies that organizations use to protect operations and bounce back from a disaster.

What are the main differences between business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans anyway? While the exact answer varies depending on who we ask, the general rule goes:

  • A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) consists of a series of protocols made to make sure that an organization can continue operations during a disaster. It answers the question: “How can our credit union remain operational during a disruptive event?”
  • A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is often a subset of BCP and refers to the processes and tech needed for recovering from a disaster. It specifically pertains to recovering lost data and restoring failed infrastructure. This answers: “How does our credit union recover when a disaster strikes?”

Think of a BCP as a general strategy that businesses put in place to be able to continue operations with minimal disruption during a disaster. A DRP is much more specific. It’s a plan to recover the applications, data and other components that allow your organization to operate should your servers or data center get damaged or destroyed. 

Why are both Business Continuity Plans and Disaster Recovery Plans important?

Now more than ever, credit unions have to guard against a number of threats that can hinder operations. Aside from natural calamities such as earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, or floods, you now have to protect yourself from man-made threats such as cybercrime and attacks from competitors or disgruntled employees. Without both of these plans in place, your credit union may face severe consequences.

According to a study by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), “following a disaster, 90% of smaller companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within 5 days.” Without comprehensive plans for preparing for these events, financial institutions are wide open targets.

By focusing on creating and regularly updating both business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning, leadership can make sure that their credit unions can weather through these events.

How do BCPs and DRPs overlap?

In actual use, both plans are referred to when describing an organization’s disaster preparedness. However, it’s very important to remember that a comprehensive business continuity plan will always have a disaster recovery plan built right into it. Think of your BCP as a master document that covers all aspects of your credit union’s disaster prevention, management and response, including the necessary recovery protocols. You can’t have an effective business continuity plan without tackling how your credit union will recover from different kinds of disasters.

Are you ready to fully prepare your credit union for any potential disaster? IMS has your back. Learn more about our Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery solutions!


3 CyberSecurity Issues That Credit Unions Need To Watch Out For

Is secure disaster recovery one of your credit union’s priorities this year? Now more than ever, financial institutions should place higher importance on resilience after cybersecurity incidents, IT failures and severe weather events.

The majority of the context for disaster recovery planning involves the types of disasters your credit union wants to defend against. Previously, we would see IT outages, power failures and natural disasters as the top three threats to watch out for. However, over the past few years, the likelihood of a cyberattack occurring is more dominant than anything else on the list. This is why secure disaster recovery should be a priority.

While they almost feel equally disastrous, blackouts and floods aren’t on the same level as cyber criminals who are proactively looking for ways to breach your credit union’s defenses. Criminal organizations have been increasing the frequency of their attacks, their use of automation tools, and improving their social engineering tactics to raise their chances of successfully attacking certain industries and organizations.

Data breaches and disaster recovery planning go together. Cyber criminal groups are extremely aware of the security measures that vendors are implementing. Take a look at 3 cybersecurity issues that should drive your credit union to prioritize disaster recovery:

  • Ransomware

Unfortunately, this type of attack is stronger than ever, especially in the credit union industry. According to the Beazley Breach Response Services team, the number of ransomware attacks ballooned in the first quarter of 2019, reporting an increase of 105% in the number of attacks against clients compared to last year.

Hackers are also doubling down by implementing ways to stop IT departments from recovering by either incorporating a “ransomware attack loop” or compromising your backups. This technique is specifically designed to attack your credit union’s ability to recover. 

  • Compliance

More and more compliance laws are taking effect and your credit union needs to act now. GDPR and the Ohio Data Protection Act are currently in effect, while the California Consumer Privacy Act follows next year.

These laws work to protect customer privacy and require similar protection around the integrity and security of their data. This directly affects your disaster recovery strategy around making sure that you can restore security and the data itself back to a usable state.

  • Island hopping (targeted attacks)

This advanced technique involves cyber criminals gaining access and control over systems, user emails and accounts in one organization to be used to commit data theft, fraud and other crimes in another company. For most cases, hackers create entirely new accounts and separate emails as part of their strategy. So even if your credit union is not the target victim of a group, the cleanup involved after being part of a data breach includes securely returning the company’s data and systems to its right state.

Compliance standards and cyberattacks require organizations to plan well in advance for these types of disasters. IMS’ Disaster Recovery services ensure that in the event of any unforseen event, your credit union will be able to quickly resume operations.