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Collaboration Is the Key for Cybersecurity Success
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 6:15 AM

Idrees Rafiq, Jr., AVP IT Consulting, Credit Union Resources

Working with credit unions of all sizes for just under 12 years now in the realm of cybersecurity, it became evident that collaboration is the key to combating the adversaries around the world. My impression was backed up in the summer of 2014 when the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council piloted a cybersecurity examination work program (cybersecurity assessment) at more than 500 community financial institutions to evaluate their preparedness to mitigate cyber risks. One of the key findings was that there is a serious need to enhance threat intelligence and collaboration.

With credit unions tending to acquire community charters, competition plays more of a role than collaboration. Although competition can be healthy, it doesn’t prove to be a positive thing when fighting cybercrime. The FFIEC published the following four questions for credit unions to consider:

  1. What is your process to gather and analyze threat and vulnerability information from multiple sources?
  2. How do you leverage this information to improve risk-management practices?
  3. What reports are provided to your board on cyber events and trends?
  4. Who is accountable for maintaining relationships with law enforcement?

In a subsequent document, guidance was listed within the Cybersecurity Assessment Toolkit (CAT), under the maturity level of baseline, where National Credit Union Administration expects all credit unions to comply with:

  1. Belonging or subscribing to a threat and vulnerability information sharing source(s) that provides information on threats.
  2. Using threat information to monitor threats and vulnerabilities.
  3. Using threat information to enhance internal risk management and controls.

The burden to comply may not be the same for all credit unions. For those who struggle or are willing to help others, there are options. Here are some of the organizations that I belong to that demonstrate a solid sense of collaboration that will help you achieve compliance and a strong cybersecurity posture:

  • The National Credit Union Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (NCU-ISAO), which promotes the strengthening of credit union cyber resilience through intelligence, operation guidance, and education. Unlike the FS-ISAC, this is actionable intelligence and includes educational components in its digest that even the most technology challenged person could understand and, most important, do something about.
  • The Cornerstone Technology Council, which promotes a regional collaboration forum where credit unions of all sizes can exchange ideas, best practices, and posts questions to professionals that have your best interests in mind.
  • The CUNA Technology Council, which is a nationwide council with more technical discussions and collaboration. The council is focused on networking, education, and providing tools, resources, and information to its members.
  • Infragard, a partnership between the FBI and members of the private sector. The group focuses on timely collaboration between the private sector and government agencies to expedite the response to attacks.

There's a lot to digest in the realm of cybersecurity, protection, compliance, risk management, cybersecurity controls, external third parties, etc. If you don’t or haven’t collaborated, feel free to start collaborating with me! You can reach me via email at


Assess Your Systems and Manage Your Risk
As technology changes, every credit union faces new security issues. Let Credit Union Resources help you stay on top of it—your future could depend on it. Our team of technology professionals provides guidance on compliance, shares best practices, and performs audits. We have a vested interest in your success, and your cybersecurity matters to us. To find out how we can help you manage cybersecurity and operational risks, contact:

Idrees Rafiq
800-442-5762, ext. 6799

Deanna Brown
800-442-5762, ext. 6464

About Credit Union Resources Inc.
Credit Union Resources is a service corporation that provides industry-leading solutions and expertise to credit unions across the country. Credit Union Resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, a regional trade association representing the interests of credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.