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Credit Unions Versus Inevitable Cyber-Attacks
By Alex Waintraub, DFIR Expert Evangelist
March 11, 2024
Credit Unions Versus Inevitable Cyber-Attacks

Credit unions deal with troves of sensitive financial information and Personal Identifiable Information (PII). This makes them a prime target for cybercriminals. A recent report by Arctic Wolf highlighted an alarming statistic. Financial services firms are 300 times more likely to face cyber-attacks, with an average breach cost of $5.9 million USD.  

 A breach in a credit union's security can lead to severe consequences. These extend beyond mere financial losses, like fraudulent spending and the cost of replacing debit cards. They also include revenue loss due to downtime and damage to their reputation. This damage often results in lost members. The aftermath of such incidents can be especially catastrophic for smaller credit unions, potentially jeopardizing their continued existence. 

Challenges Faced by Credit Unions  

Credit unions often operate insufficient and outdated technology. This can make them susceptible to cyber threats. Darrin Johnson, MD of Cybersecurity Services at Progent, a managed security service provider, observed multiple instances where PII and sensitive information were left on outdated, unpatched servers. Furthermore, Joshua Marpet, IAN Faculty advisor and CMMC author, found that many credit union technology inventories are not adequately updated. This leaves them vulnerable to end-of-life systems still being utilized. 

Managing Third Party Risk 

Credit unions often leverage third parties to enhance the features and functionality offered to their members. Threat actors see this as an easy way to carry out cyber-attacks. This type of susceptibility was highlighted recently when ransomware infected 60 credit unions through a vulnerability in a third-party IT vendor (CVE-2023-4966). This disrupted operations and exposed the credit unions' exposure to third-party risks.  

Redefining Cyber Resilience for Credit Unions 

Recognizing the challenges credit unions face, the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) advises credit unions to adopt a proactive approach. The NCUA suggested measures include patching vulnerabilities, implementing MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication), conducting security awareness training, enhancing email security, and establishing an incident response plan. 

CYGNVS takes it a step further—it’s not just about having a plan; it’s about having a dynamic response plan. It should be available and easily accessible even if your network is compromised and your files are encrypted by a threat actor. Cybersecurity MDR company Critical Start says that “preparing for potential breaches, credit unions can bolster their defenses and safeguard the financial well-being of their members.”  

CYGNVS enables credit union cybersecurity teams to actively participate in and respond to simulated cyber threats in the same place they will ultimately fight from. This approach helps you identify and update your response playbooks on the fly. It also gives your team the muscle memory needed to respond to cyber-attacks.  

Staying Compliant 

Credit unions must comply with regulation, adding complexity to incident response efforts. These standards are constantly under review and revised to keep up with evolving technologies.  The NCUA says that “all federally insured credit unions must notify the NCUA as soon as possible, and no later than 72 hours after the credit union reasonably believes it has experienced a reportable cyber incident or received a notification from a third party regarding a reportable cyber incident.” CYGNVS not only assists in complying with existing regulations but also adapts to evolving standards.  

CYGNVS’ incident command center offers a single pane of glass to ensure all the necessary steps have been taken and completed. This helps accelerate response timelines allowing companies to meet their regulatory requirements to report within a given timeframe. The true test of preparedness arises when a team can demonstrate that their organization can confidently execute a response plan swiftly and effectively.  

The CYGNVS Advantage 

Navigating a cyber incident can become complex with the involvement of numerous stakeholders, including the general counsel, CISO, C-suite executives, operations, security, incident response teams, crisis communications and PR agencies, as well as third-party providers like outside counsel, forensics, crisis communications etc. In the event of a cyber incident, CYGNVS provides a secure, out-of-band place to not only swiftly respond to the cyber-attack, but also to report the incident in the required timeframe 

 With the CYGNVS platform’s Dynamic TenancyTM capability, you gain access to a secure place where you can effectively collaborate both internally and externally, with fine-grained access control across all users. CYGNVS provides a fortified environment for real-time information sharing, communication, and collaboration between internal and third-party teams. Additionally, CYGNVS’ patented Isolate ModeTM raises the drawbridge to your company data, ensuring that only stakeholders with the right privileges can communicate and collaborate on the platform, preventing threat actors from gaining access to your response strategy.  

Why CYGNVS is right for Credit Unions 

The team of experts at CYGNVS has pooled together best practices from managing thousands of cyber incidents to build the CYGNVS Cyber Incident Command Center. They serve over 1,500 organizations around the world. The CYGNVS platform is designed for enterprise-grade security. It has SOC2 Type 2 compliance, ISO 27001 certification, and 24/7 live technical support. Visit www.cygnvs.com to learn more about how CYGNVS can help your credit union plan, practice, respond, and report during a cyber crisis.