Republished from CU Times dated January 12, 2024. By James McCabe
The continued worldwide data breach avalanche has significantly struck the credit union industry. In late November, at least 60 credit unions were affected by a ransomware cyber-attack perpetrated on a third-party, cloud-based provider for these credit unions. By mid-December, news reports indicated these credit unions were back online but still dealing with the attack’s aftermath. This incident was another example of why the NCUA continues to warn credit unions that greater cybersecurity awareness and preparedness is needed.
The underlying theme is simple. No company (credit union) or individual (member) is immune to this continuous onslaught of data breach attacks. Even the previously impenetrable – or so we thought – companies have become easy targets. Recently, casinos, major insurance companies, and even the three credit bureaus have been victims of successful cyber breach events. Organizations that prepare for the worst are the ones that fare the best after a breach or fraud event occurs.
As more credit unions become victims of this tidal wave, perhaps there’s a greater understanding of how your members must feel. Your members are getting hit repeatedly and much more dramatically as they constantly face the risks of data breach fallout from regional and national breach events. With the recent chain of breach events, including MOVEit, MGM Resorts, Caesars Resorts, 23andME and United Healthcare (to name a few), your members have seen their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and other data explode within the dark web.
If we follow the full meaning of having Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), then part of a credit union’s CSR initiatives should be providing its members with a direct and comprehensive solution for protecting their identities, financial well-being and livelihood. Empowering your members with peace-of-mind protection that includes monitoring and recovery amid these cyber dangers could be the most critical CSR initiative in 2024.
Hundreds of credit unions have already implemented a retail checking strategy that has become a key component of their CSR plans. These retail checking strategies include free telehealth access, mobile phone insurance and ID theft protection, and they have become meaningful ways to make life easier and less stressful for members. Also, members get benefits and services directly addressing protection and recovery from a data breach fallout. The credit unions implementing these retail checking strategies have dramatically increased membership value, gained more profitable relationships with their members and addressed liquidity issues with reoccurring non-interest income.
As previously stated, no individual or any company is immune to criminal cyber-attacks, therefore, finding a way to help members within your credit union deal with potential fallout and win their ultimate trust becomes essential. After all, a recent report from TELUS in partnership with global market intelligence firm IDC indicates that 77% of consumers accept that security breaches can happen but will most trust those who help them with meaningful support.
So why not make 2024 the year that your credit union expands its CSR initiatives to include identity theft solutions that protect your members from any beach or fraud event, including those that may have already affected your members? And, while you’re at it, you can prepare your credit union for the worst by getting comprehensive data breach response and protection that complements your cyber insurance policy and completes your risk management strategy while also keeping employees and board directors protected. Ringing in the New Year with a plan to help your members, employees and board of directors deal with life’s challenges, including the dangers of breach fallout, will help foster appreciation, loyalty and growth.
In the grand scheme of life’s jeopardies, members prefer to do business with companies they can trust to help them in times of need. The coming year could be a great time to seek ways to expand your suite of services outside the walls of the credit union and support members with a stronger sense of corporate social responsibility.