To gain new insight into the needs of banks and credit unions today, Safe Systems conducted a sentiment survey and asked community financial institutions directly about their top concerns. Their responses were primarily concentrated in three main areas: security, compliance, and technology, especially regarding exams and audits, cyber threats, and disaster recovery. Since the pandemic events of this year, many of these concerns have only strengthened in importance. In this blog post, we’ll address these challenges and offer some key best practices to solve them.
Top Security Concern: Cybersecurity
Banking security threats are pervasive worldwide, leaving banks and credit unions with good cause for concern. Consider these alarming cybercrime statistics: Cyber-attacks are 300 times more likely to hit financial services firms than other companies, according to a recent Boston Consulting Group report.
A key tool to combat cyber threats is the Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and the Automated Cybersecurity Examination Tool (ACET) from the NCUA. Institutions can utilize this voluntary industry-specific cyber assessment tool to identify their risk level and determine the control maturity of their cybersecurity programs.
Top Compliance Concern: Exams and Audits
While examinations and audits are necessary components of compliance, many institutions are intimidated by the process itself, and while exams and audits may overlap in similar areas, they are distinctly different in terms of nature and scope.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) conducts bank examinations to ensure public confidence in the banking system and to protect the Deposit Insurance Fund. Audits, which typically last several months, are designed to ensure institutions are complying with federal laws, jurisdictional regulations, and industry standards. Auditors conduct tests, present their findings, and recommend corrective actions for the bank to undertake.
Banks and credit unions can use several tactics to prepare for, and meet, the requirements and expectations of regulators:
- Review all guidance and issues related to their institution and become familiar with any changes that might impact them
- Review previous exam reports for comments or matters that require attention and be prepared to report and discuss these findings, along with any previous nonfinding comments
- Use a managed services provider in combination with compliance applications to automate the process of documenting, reporting, and preparing for exams.
While following best practices will not guarantee that an institution won’t have examination findings, it can help significantly lower the likelihood and severity of them.
Top Technology Concern: Disaster Recovery
Financial institutions must have provisions for restoring their IT infrastructure, data, and systems after a disaster happens. Considering the recent outbreak of COVID-19, it is also important for community banks and credit unions to consistently review, update, and test their current disaster recovery plans to be able to address any issues that occur during a pandemic event.
With effective planning, banks and credit unions can launch a calculated response to a disaster, pandemic event, or other emergencies to minimize its effect on their information systems and the overall business operations. Some general best practices for disaster recovery include:
- Analyzing potential threats
- Assessing the technology required
- Managing access controls and security
- Conducting regular data recovery test
- Returning operations to normal with minimal disruption
While the survey respondents shared a number of serious banking security, technology, and compliance concerns, the good news is that they all can be properly addressed with the right processes, strategies, and resources in place. For more information on the top concerns community banks and credit unions are experiencing today, read our latest white paper, “Top 10 Banking Security, Technology, and Compliance Concerns for Community Banks and Credit Unions.”