Enhancing Detection Improves Credit Union Cybersecurity and Compliance

October 15, 2019 Todd Thiemann

Credit unions hold highly sensitive data such as members’ financial and personal information, but they typically lack the information technology (IT) budgets of larger banks and financial institutions.

This disparity makes them a ripe prospect for hackers, who will exploit this fact to gain access to credit union data.

For example, Desjardins Group, a large federation of credit unions, just suffered a data breach that was one of the largest ever among Canadian financial institutions.

An employee improperly collected information about customers and shared it with a third party, leaking the details—including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and email addresses—of roughly 2.7 million people and 173,000 businesses.

Analyst firm Gartner recently identified a new dynamic in security investments away from threat prevention and in favor of threat detection.

According to Gartner, “The shift in security investments from threat prevention to threat detection requires an investment in security operations centers (SOC) as the complexity and frequency of security alerts grow.”

Detection is Better Than a Cure

While most credit unions have invested in protective measures like anti-malware and firewall products, the task of monitoring and detecting what inevitably slips through those protective layers poses an ongoing challenge.

Rapid detection can mean the difference between a compromise and a catastrophic breach. Quickly detecting the threat and breaking the attack kill chain leads to improved cybersecurity.

While larger financial institutions have the resources to establish a SOC, it can be a challenge for credit unions to budget for the eight to 12 security analysts needed for 24×7 monitoring and also bring in-house the required infrastructure like a security information and event management solution.

Typically, only large enterprise firms can afford the necessary people, processes, and technology that’s needed in the form of an on-premises SOC.

So, what’s the answer for credit unions? Think outsourced solutions.

A SOC-as-a-service gives you continuous monitoring and the necessary visibility into your network to improve your security posture and minimize threats. It includes security experts who triage alerts and only notify your own IT team when its involvement is absolutely necessary.

What’s more, SOC-as-a-service solutions also help you meet industry-specific compliance needs, including NCUA guidance and PCI DSS requirements.

Seeing the Threats

There are no silver bullets, but several steps can change the cybersecurity strategy from a system of protection to one of detection:

  • Educate: Regularly train and educate staff members on the tactics employed to breach systems and commit fraud.
  • Identify: Develop and implement an identity governance strategy to understand the assets you need to protect and identify bad actors before they breach the system.
  • Monitor: Maintain comprehensive and full visibility over all users, applications, and data, both on-premises and in the cloud.
  • Analyze: Analyze systems for a holistic understanding of vulnerabilities in the network that put both employees and clients at risk—and have a plan to fix them.
  • Vigilance: Be constantly vigilant. Monitor and stay prepared for when, not if, a breach happens.

By embracing the detection mantra, credit unions can better meet their cybersecurity and compliance challenges.

*originally published by the Credit Union National Association

 

 

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