Digital Transformation Insights

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6 Tips to Prevent Your Next Credit Union Data Breach

Feb 5, 2018 6:20:42 PM

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

As the threat of data breaches continues to increase, consider implementing these tips to protect your customers.


Last fall, it seemed that virtually every newscast discussed the Equifax data breach (and for good reason). The mega cyberattack not only exposed 143 million United States consumers’ private information to hackers, but also led to millions of dollars in credit union expenditures to help customers successfully recover from the breach.

In fact, credit unions across the country are still spending millions to safeguard their customers from that one data breach alone. And of course, expenditures for information security in the banking and financial industry will only continue to rise, as hackers’ technology is improving constantly, likely leading to even more data breaches this year than last.

So how should you—as a credit union professional—respond to these ever-increasing attacks? What can you do to improve your customers’ financial security? And how can you ensure your loyal customers are well protected for the future? Consider implementing the following six tips now, so that your customers are safeguarded from potential future breaches, no matter what tomorrow brings.

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Hire a Cybersecurity Professional.

If your budget allows, you should have at least one full-time employee who’s solely dedicated to your credit union’s information security. This individual should constantly monitor threats, communicate with vendors and associations about potential problems and consistently seek out the latest cybersecurity technology available on the market.

“In addition to providing this professional a full-time position, it’s vital that you also offer regular training options, whether online or at your credit union,” says Nirav Doshi, managing partner, CDP. “Your professional must remain as up-to-date as possible, with regards to new cyberattack methods, threat monitoring techniques and technology options.”


Seek Outside Assistance and Opinions.

Although the full-time cybersecurity professional will be regularly educated about the most recent security threats and safety methods, it’s important to acquire opinions from experts outside of your credit union as well. They’ll ensure you’re fully prepared to immediately respond to breaches, as they’ll test your current cybersecurity software, offer suggestions for improvements and provide advice about potential replacements.


Trust is a Must.

Although it may seem straightforward, you must have cybersecurity software you can trust. Consider these three questions:

  • Is your software regularly updated with new technology implementations?

  • Does your software’s developer offer representatives who are available for assistance during normal business hours?
  • Is your software consistently recognized for its high functionality?

If you answer no to any of these questions, now may be the time to replace your current software.

“Just as there is a virtually endless supply of data breach risks, there’s also a wide range of cybersecurity software available—a list that seems to grow with each passing day,” Doshi explains. “You must review these options and purchase the software that’s best suited for your credit union. Never settle for anything less than the best fit for your office.”


Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Oftentimes, cyberattacks occur when members of credit union teams fail to communicate with one another. Ensure your cybersecurity professional is constantly communicating with your analysts. And ask your analysts to consistently communicate with vendors and associations about potential threats, as well as success stories (e.g., cyberattacks that were prevented). This will help earn your customers’ trust and loyalty, as you’ll also be more likely to safeguard them from future breaches.


Educate Your Customers about Data Breach Prevention.

To further improve your relationship with customers, offer them seminars about credit card breach prevention. These seminars offer opportunities to educate them on the ways in which they can protect themselves, such as:

  • Password Security: Passwords should have proper lengths (at least eight characters) and combine numbers and special characters.
  • PIN Number Best Practices: PINs must be changed regularly (and be easily remembered without being overly obvious).
  • Online Shopping Security: All websites should be encrypted.

“The threats of data breaches alone can be intimidating, let alone the ways in which your customers can help prevent them,” Doshi adds. “Sometimes intimidation can lead customers to miss the obvious. You have an opportunity to show them how they can personally secure themselves—usually within a matter of minutes.”


Don’t Overcomplicate the Security Process.

Just as customers can overlook obvious security measures from time to time, credit unions’ staff members can also miss what’s right in front of them, so to speak. Usually this oversight (e.g., courses about new cybersecurity software, reminding customers to change their passwords and PIN numbers) is directly related to the stress involved with managing the constant evolutions of data breaches. Work to minimize that stress by getting back to the basics.

“Remind your staff members to focus on the basics of cybersecurity—offering personalized customer service, receiving regular reviews of security software and maintaining communication with experts to learn about new trends,” Doshi states. “Data breach management is already complicated enough. Work alongside your team members to make sure they don’t lose sight of what they can control.”

If you have any questions about the ways in which your credit union can further improve its data breach security, visit CDP is ready to help you advance your security measures so you can protect your customers from future cyberattacks, regardless of their scope.


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Chris Lewis
Written by Chris Lewis

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