Data Privacy Day 2021: Rise Above Your Risk

As ransomware attacks ramp up throughout the financial services industry, it’s critical credit unions remain vigilant in keeping sensitive data secure.

1/26/2021

Thursday, Jan. 28, is Data Privacy Day — a globally recognized day dedicated to raising awareness about the growing threat of cybercrime and sharing best practices for keeping data protected.

As more states across the country establish their own privacy laws, credit unions may find themselves facing conflicting requirements at the state and federal levels, making it more difficult to keep their sensitive data secure. Awareness and proactive prevention are critical for credit unions and their members.

Reliance on data, IT systems, and a number of high-profile incidents have led to increased awareness of cybercrime. In turn, cybersecurity strategies are evolving quickly — but so are threats to data security. Credit unions must stay on top of next-generation vulnerabilities to minimize risk and prepare a response for potential loss of information and data.

“Financial Institutions, including credit unions, are one of the most targeted organizations for ransomware and other cyber-attacks,” said David Curtis, Director, Compliance Services at NWCUA. “Hackers are not only stealing and encrypting data, but they’re also threatening to reveal that sensitive data to the public, which is likely to be even more damaging than the malware itself.”

This sensitive data might include member financial records, employee personal information, termination letters, salaries, and much more. This means credit unions will have to treat these attacks like data breaches. Furthermore, if any third-party information is stolen, which is highly likely, then that requires further disclosure as well.

“With the increased focus on consumer data rights, more litigation could result from consumers who claim they have suffered damage as a result of these ransomware or cybersecurity attacks,” said CUNA Mutual Group Senior Risk Consultant, Carlos Molina. “Unfortunately, this will be a wait and see dilemma.”

The National Credit Union Administration says cyber-attacks against credit unions and consumers are likely to ramp up even more due to advances in fintech, an increase in remote workforces, and the growing adaptation of mobile technology for financial transactions.

“The NCUA continues to promote cybersecurity hygiene in credit unions, and reviews of credit union information systems and assurance programs remain a supervisory priority for the agency,” the agency recently communicated. “Building upon its outreach efforts to the industry in 2020, the NCUA will continue to provide guidance and resources to assist credit unions with this critical threat.”

Credit Union Cybercrime Prevention Resources

Credit unions can access the NCUA’s Cybersecurity Resources page for more information on cyber threats, regulations, federal requirements, and best practices.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance also offers a variety of free resources, including tip sheets, courses, reports, and videos for consumers and organizations alike.

To learn more about the current cybersecurity landscape, view CUNA Mutual Group’s Cybersecurity Threat Outlook eBook.

Editor’s Note: Northwest credit unions – what plans and procedures do you have in place to combat data privacy vulnerabilities? Share your expertise and you may be a featured in an upcoming Anthem edition. Please send your tips here.