Smaller financial institutions, such as credit unions, need to keep their systems well-protected from cybercriminals, whether they're insiders or those operating from outside of the organizations. To do so, credit unions must first understand just how important IT security is. They must also come to terms with how their IT security capabilities are likely more limited than larger firms with more spending capital. When they accomplish both, they can take the appropriate measures to protect themselves.
"Larger banks are getting harder to penetrate since they've invested in security for years. They've had their big breach through which they get religion, they get spend [more budget] and they get harder," said Bill Stewart, an EVP with Booz Allen, according to Jeff John Roberts of Fortune. "Now, the adversaries are moving down the food chain."
"Big banks have the resources to keep hackers away, so cybercriminals are beginning to focus on smaller institutions."
In other words, big banks have the resources - and they're using them - to keep hackers away. However, these cybercriminals are also resourceful, and they're beginning to focus on smaller institutions that don't have the advanced tools to completely defend themselves.
Roberts interestingly notes that many of these hackers likely learned their skills by attacking larger, more robust financial organizations. Smaller, mid-sized companies, Roberts says, "appear to [be] sitting ducks.
So the question that remains is: How are credit unions mitigating these risks?
"I worry more about the financial companies who aren't the big banks - who aren't at that level yet," said Richard Nesbitt, chief executive of the Toronto-based Global Risk Institute for Financial Services, according to Financial Post.
Nesbitt said that larger banks tend to work together to fight off breaches. But this isn't always the case with smaller institutions, which also may struggle to evolve.
Financial institutions need to focus on cybersecurity just as much (and arguably more so) than anything else, including neat, 21st century mobile banking features.
The Federal Financial Institutions recently released a statement reminding banks of the importance of cybersecurity and how they can protect themselves from these online cybercriminals.
"In light of recent cyber attacks," financial institutions should "actively manage the risks associated with interbank messaging and wholesale payment networks," the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council said.
The FFIEC suggested that banks, in our case credit unions, constantly monitor risks by assessing and prioritizing systems, updating software and hardware when needed, restricting access to critical systems, testing programs, training employees on industry best practices and also taking part in training sessions and "information-sharing forums."
It's not difficult for credit unions to increase their IT security protocols and measures, however it does take dedication and time. Unions that focus their efforts on protecting vital customer information will keep their systems better protected from cybercriminals.
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