The ISO is tasked with multiple simultaneous activities; supervising the financial institution’s business continuity planning, project management, vendor management, cybersecurity, exams and audits, and information security, which can be an overwhelming responsibility for one person to manage. This presents operational and compliance challenges for the institution if there is no second-in-command should the ISO become suddenly unavailable. For this reason, the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC) in their Management booklet outlines the importance of succession planning for key roles within the institution, including the ISO.
Effective succession planning involves proactively identifying alternate personnel and initiating proper cross-training for critical roles well in advance. A case in point is Billy Peele, who has worked with Iva, South Carolina-based The Peoples Bank for 45 years, and who has plans to retire by the end of 2020. Overseeing the bank’s IT and InfoSec departments, Peele has also functioned as the institution’s ISO. With a succession plan in place, the bank selected Jill Seymore and Addrian Wilson to jointly assume the title and responsibilities of the ISO in preparation of Peele’s departure.
Although highly skilled in banking operations, Seymore and Wilson initially lacked the level of ISO related experience necessary to fulfill the role. Specifically, the pair wanted a better grasp on the IT reports and to learn best practices in reviewing these reports from the ISO perspective. This learning curve could have been overwhelming for the new ISOs, but The Peoples Bank decided to implement a proven virtual ISO solution to give Seymore and Wilson the tools to become more confident in the new role.
Too often, new ISOs do not receive a detailed hand-off document from the predecessor and may not know where to start to complete key responsibilities. Fortunately this was not the case for The Peoples Bank as Safe Systems’ ISOversight Virtual ISO Solution formalized all responsibilities into a structured framework for Seymore and Wilson, allowing for methodical review of all tasks on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis to ensure continuity for the bank.
ISOversight serves as a risk management tool designed to support the role of the ISO by augmenting existing personnel and ensuring that all tasks and related activities are completed on time and properly reported to the various stakeholders. ISOversight helped ease Seymore and Wilson into the ISO position by grouping all of the various responsibilities into a unified platform to effortlessly manage compliance and security activities. Not only did this clearly outline key requirements of the ISO, but it also educated Peele’s successors on how to effectively perform the role.
ISOversight gave Seymore and Wilson the confidence that allowed them to trust the bank’s IT department while verifying all interrelated activities are running smoothly and securely. Reviewing reports and receiving alerts with the assistance of the VISO helps the new ISOs extract relevant, actionable information to determine if there are anomalies or exceptions that they should be aware of and act on.
The key to succession planning is to find ways to standardize and maintain the consistency and continuity of the responsibilities of the ISO. In this case, the bank can be confident that information is secure, tasks are being completed on time, and documentation is shared with auditors, examiners, and the board. At The Peoples Bank, ISOversight provided a seamless transition for Seymore and Wilson, while laying a solid foundation for future ISO activities.
For more information, download the full white paper, “5 Case Studies: Exploring Common Challenges Faced By The Information Security Officer.”