Data Security Best Practices for Credit Unions

 

Credit unions often serve some of the most vulnerable businesses in their communities. About 50% of small businesses that have a data breach in their operations will close permanently in the following 6 months. While credit unions may not fold so easily in the midst of a cyberattack, it’s still important to have excellent data protection protocols and contingency plans in the event that your data is hacked or compromised, and it’s not just for the benefit of your IT managers. Adopting credit union data security best practices can curb the risks associated with the storage and curation of sensitive customer data.

Data security is an ever-evolving and often underestimated superpower in the financial world. There are many great ways to improve your data security. 

Barriers to Entry and Enhancement

Protecting your data, while always a worthy investment, is often very expensive, especially for smaller institutions. Onsite data protection is a great start, but the events of 2020 have also shed light on the many business’s shortcomings in the online data security arena. Without proper training and monitoring, employees can also easily perform unsafe data handling. As email scammers and hackers get more creative, the chances you or your business will be a victim of a cyberattack only grows.

Recognize potential threats

The first thing you should do is check your weak spots: gather a list of information that is most valuable to scammers. Knowing what the high-risk data is, and where it’s stored, is half the battle, as they say. Creating protocols and programs that scan for these valuable tidbits is a great way to pull this information together quickly and precisely.

Potential threats can also include older technology, like employees who leave login credentials or other access information somewhere easily accessible or noticed. Just because it’s not stored in a sophisticated and expensive device doesn’t mean it can’t be used to wreak havoc on your business.

Put Your Guard Up

Once you’ve identified your top targets, it’s time to reinforce them. Encryption is a common tool for protecting sensitive information, and it can be used on many fronts. Leverage tools like the ACET to set standards and controls that install safeguards against bad actors on your systems.

Diversify your approach using malware defenses, continuous monitoring systems, employee procedures, and the like. Your outside vendors are also common entry points for cyberattackers. Make sure your protections extend to these dealings as well. 

Don’t forget to test your systems. Remember school tornado drills? It’s wise to practice these protocols in a controlled environment to be sure your institution is prepared for the real deal.

Conclusion

Credit union data security is an industry that evolves at breakneck speeds. A system that worked perfectly last year could leave dangerous gaps in your cybersecurity offerings this year and it is wise to keep an eye on new trends both in cybercrime and in the tools industry leaders are using to mitigate the risks.

Cybersecurity maintenance is a continuous and all-encompassing endeavor. Contact us for help, we can protect your data and meet your cybersecurity needs.


Black Friday vs Cyber Monday

Is One Better Than the Other?

holiday shopping 2018 IMSBlack Friday, or Cyber Monday? While there are obvious differences between the two – in-store vs online – there’s been a bit of a debate regarding which of the two will garner the best deals.

For some, having the option of skipping in-person, retail craziness is enough to sway them towards preferring Cyber Monday. For others, it’s a yearly tradition with family and friends; completing all holiday shopping before 8:00 am.

According to the National Retail Foundation, more than 174 million shoppers in the United States took to brick and mortar and online stores, from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday 2017, spending $7.5B on Black Friday alone!

It is no secret that there are amazing deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you do a bit of research, you’ll most likely find fantastic finds, both online and in-store. According to experts, the better of the two depends on what you are interested in buying. So, let’s break it down and save some cash!

When to Shop for What

Believe it or not, depending on what you are shopping for can dictate when you should shop for it. There are specific items/categories that are usually priced better on one of the two days. While not set in stone, typically the following deals are seen:

Black Friday

  • Appliances
  • Grills
  • Televisions
  • Computers/Peripherals
  • General Electronics

Cyber Monday

  • Apparel/Shoes
  • Beauty Products
  • Travel Deals/Airfare
  • Apple Products
  • Gaming Systems
  • Discounts are often retailer-wide, as opposed to a specific product
  • Deeper discounts on leftover inventory from Black Friday

Do Your Research

Utilize email subscriptions from retailers you intend to shop with. Discounts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday are often emailed to list subscribers.

Use online tools and browser extensions to monitor the price of items you’re interested in.

Sometimes the second-best deal ends up being the better deal. You won’t be up against as many consumers and have a better chance of your item being in stock.

Cheaper isn’t always better. Sometimes there are features that aren’t included in the lowest priced models. Whether it’s a washing machine without a fabric softener dispenser or a television that isn’t as “smart” as you thought it would be, do as much research as you can when you have a specific model or item in mind.

Prepare in Advance

  • Whether shopping online or in-store, have a list of items that you are interested in purchasing.
  • If you’re purchasing online, make sure that you create an account prior to shopping, to expedite the checkout process.
  • If you’re shopping in-store, map your route to the different retailers and go in with a plan!

While some would rather brave the crowds and early morning hours, others prefer the convenience of shopping from wherever they like. Either way, there will be many deals available, and with a little preparation, you can save a lot of money!

Guard Your Information

Whether shopping at retail outlets or online stores, be mindful and observant of your personal information. The holidays are a busy time of year for identity thieves and cybercriminals, so be vigilant and smart.

  • Make sure that any website on which you are providing ANY type of personal information is secure. Look for a padlock next to the URL in your browser’s address bar. If you don’t see that, don’t share any personal information and do NOT provide any type of financial or payment information.
  • Check your credit card and bank accounts early and often. Many banks will show transactions within moments of occurring. As your bank or financial institution if text message alerts are available to customers, to be notified when a purchase is made.
  • Protect your packages! Thieves have no problem stealing packages from the porches, stoops, and mailboxes, of others. If you already have a security system in your home, ensure that a camera is focused on any areas that packages or items of value may be left.
  • Track your package shipment process through text messages. Most package carriers and shipment facilities offer text alerts and updates to recipients at no cost. This makes it easy to see where your package is in the shipment process, and if it was delivered.

Remember the reason for the season when you’re out shopping, or browsing online. Enjoy your experience, find great deals, and have a wonderful holiday season!

From all of us to all of you, have a wonderful and joyous holiday season!!

The Team at IMS