Author: Darren Bridges

18 Jun 2020
Addressing Banking Security, Technology and Compliance Concerns

Addressing Banking Security, Technology and Compliance Concerns

Addressing Banking Security, Technology and Compliance Concerns

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.”

09 Jan 2020
Top Bank Technology, Security, and Compliance Concerns in 2020

Less Worrying. More Banking.™ Top Banking Technology, Security, and Compliance Concerns in 2020

Top Banking Technology, Security, and Compliance Concerns in 2020

The constant evolution of technology, the ever-changing compliance landscape, and increased security threats have fundamentally changed the way financial institutions operate today and the key concerns they are facing on a daily basis. In our 26 years of experience serving the community banking industry, we have not seen a more difficult landscape for our clients to navigate.

The risks associated with security, compliance and technology have never been more challenging than they are today. As the responsibilities of community financial institutions continue to grow and evolve, it is not uncommon to worry about limited resources, keeping up with new technologies, or simply maintaining a competitive advantage in the industry. We believe that all financial institutions, regardless of size and location, should be able to leverage the best technology solutions available so they can focus on serving the financial needs of their communities. It is our mission to provide peace of mind and value for our customers in these areas so banking professionals can get back to doing what they do best and spend less time worrying.

Through the years we have developed and offered compliance centric IT services designed exclusively for community banks and credit unions, ensuring that they are kept up to date on the current technologies, security risks, regulatory changes, and FFIEC guidelines. We strive to listen to our customers to ensure our solutions continue to support the changing needs of the industry and meet their expectations in addressing key concerns. We recently surveyed a group of our community bank and credit union customers to gain a better understanding of the top worries and concerns they have for 2020 as they relate to technology, compliance and security. Through that survey we uncovered the following:

Technology Challenges

Financial institutions of all sizes continue to depend on their IT network infrastructure and technology solutions for nearly all functions of the institution, which makes it crucial that all solutions work efficiently. While community banks and credit unions have been utilizing technology for quite some time now, they continue to face certain technology challenges heading into 2020. According to survey respondents, the expense of technology solutions, keeping up with rapid changes, and truly understanding the technology solutions are top concerns. In addition, many continue to struggle with network management and connectivity, patch management, and training employees on IT solutions.

Compliance

While banks and credit unions have adjusted to the frequent and strenuous regulatory reviews, they continue to struggle with meeting examiner expectations across critical areas such as vendor management, business continuity planning, and risk management and assessment. In addition, many struggle with adequately defining the requirements of the Information Security Officer (ISO), as this role has become more involved and the expertise needed has grown. The ISO has one of the most crucial roles in a financial institution. In fact, it is one of the few positions that are required by guidance. The FFIEC covers various issues related to information security in great detail, including the expectations and requirements for the ISO. According to the FFIEC IT Examination Handbook’s Information Security booklet, financial institutions should have at least one person who is dedicated to serving as an in-house ISO.

Security

Over the past several years, the industry has been impacted by a marked increase in data breaches, ransomware, card fraud and other malicious attacks. Additionally, an increase in devices connected to networks has made it critical for financial institutions to strengthen their security strategies and policies and ensure all systems are up to date and able to effectively combat today’s threats. Cybersecurity-related attacks on the financial sector continue to increase at an alarming rate, making cybersecurity a top area of concern for financial institutions. Additional areas of concern include ransomware, phishing, malware, disaster recovery, and network security.

Managing these challenges alone can be a daunting task to undertake. As a trusted resource for financial IT and regulatory support, Safe Systems is here to serve as a true extension of your team, providing you with access to technology professionals who are specifically trained in the banking industry. Safe Systems offers cost effective solutions such as IT support and managed services, internal network/cloud design and installation, hosted email, business continuity and disaster recovery, compliance consulting, security services, and IT and compliance training. Our services help financial institutions significantly decrease costs, increase performance, and improve compliance posture.

Let us help you get back to what you do best. Less worrying. More banking.™

 
28 Mar 2019
An Eastern Virginia Bank Enhances Compliance with Safe Systems’ NetComply® One Solution

An Southeastern Bank Enhances Compliance with Safe Systems’ NetComply® One Solution

An Southeastern Bank Enhances Compliance with Safe Systems’ NetComply® One Solution

To run a bank efficiently, it is important to have all employees — from the C-suite to the teller line — working towards a common goal of providing quality service, fulfilling strategic business objectives and offering the best products to customers. For many bank IT professionals, this can be a challenge when most of their time is spent managing software updates and reporting and troubleshooting networks, workstations, and applications, all while maintaining regulatory compliance.

The Chief Information Officer for a Southeastern-based bank with nearly $2 billion in assets ran into this very issue with his IT team. They spent a tremendous amount of time managing the bank’s network and installing updates and patches and did not have time left to handle their other responsibilities at the institution.

This led the CIO to search for a way to streamline processes and enable his staff to focus on higher-value activities like supporting the core business and assisting customers.

The Solution

Download PDFCase Study: An Southeastern Bank Enhances Compliance with Safe Systems’  NetComply One Solution Get a Copy

After consideration, the bank implemented Safe Systems’ NetComply One service in late 2016. At the time, they were one of our largest customers with hundreds of devices on our network, which made their CIO a little apprehensive. His concerns were quickly put to rest when our team completed the implementation with ease. The CIO was happy that we were able to meet all the needs of the bank by getting NetComply One quickly implemented without downtime at any of the bank’s locations.

With the new IT solution in place, the bank can effectively monitor and manage its IT assets with automated patch management, qualified alerts, and detailed reporting capabilities in a single solution. The NetComply One service provided the CIO with confidence that their IT assets are operating securely and efficiently.

Results

Since working with Safe Systems, the bank has improved IT processes and decreased the amount of time spent on daily IT responsibilities. NetComply One helps them monitor and manage all their devices from one centralized platform, ensuring IT operations run more smoothly on a day-to-day basis.

“With NetComply, we don’t have to spend time managing IT assets and troubleshooting end user issues as we had to in the past. Now, our people can focus on our core systems and applications and setting up systems for new products, allowing us to offer a wider range of services to our customers.”

The bank also benefits from the Strategic Advisor, or dedicated resource, that Safe Systems provides to help guide and advise the bank on initiatives and where the bank wants to go. In addition, NetComply One helps the bank prepare for exams by reducing the amount of time required to produce reports that meet examiner expectations and needs.

“We’ve experienced positive results working with Safe Systems and do consider them an extension of our internal team,” said the CIO. “Aside from the innovative solutions they provide, it is the people that makes Safe Systems such a valued partner to have. I know they want to see us do well, and they help push us towards the results they know we can achieve.”

21 Mar 2019
Safe Systems Launches Customer Referral Program

Safe Systems Launches Customer Referral Program

Safe Systems Launches Customer Referral Program

According to our third annual report, “2019 IT Outlook for Community Banking“, nearly 91% of survey respondents claim to turn to their peer network for information when researching a new solution or vendor.

Download the PDFThe 2019 IT Outlook for Community Banking Get a Copy

These confidants provide valuable first-hand information from trusted individuals who have knowledge of the industry and are experiencing similar situations and issues. So, we wanted to provide an opportunity for our customers to conveniently share our more than 25-year journey serving the community banking industry, unique customer experience, and dedicated strategic advisor service, by simply sending their peers to this new webpage – The Safe Systems Way.

In addition to facilitating the easy exchange of information, we have launched a formal customer referral program that provides existing customers with a simple online process to refer Safe Systems to their peers. Customers will be awarded a small gift thanking them for each peer referral, and new customers who come through the referral program will receive an exclusive welcome gift.

At Safe Systems, we strive to provide a high degree of customer service by paying close attention to our customers’ pain points and keeping their needs a priority. This has enabled us to build strong relationships with clients. These relationships combined with extensive knowledge of community banks and credit unions, enables Safe Systems to be a valued partner and true extension of our financial institution clients. We truly understand the complexity that financial institutions face in managing the constant evolution of technology, compliance, and security. Our team works to streamline IT processes for banks and credit unions and ensure regulatory requirements are met or exceeded.

01 Aug 2018
Cybercriminals Do Not Go on Vacation

Cybercriminals Don’t Go on Vacation! 3 Key Steps to Maintain Security During Summer Months

Cybercriminals Do Not Go on Vacation

Summer is in full swing, and many employees are heading out of the office for their annual summer vacations. However, while employees are taking advantage of the summer months, so are cybercriminals! Cybersecurity attacks continue to increase and are becoming more sophisticated with recent attacks involving extortion, destructive malware, and compromised credentials. An attack on a financial institution resulting in the loss of data can have a devastating effect on the organization’s revenue and reputation. In addition, the amount of time and money needed to resolve these attacks can be significant.

While the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) actually encourages mandatory vacation time for bank employees of all levels, this can be a challenging time for many community institutions that have a small staff and rely on key individuals to ensure their institution is adequately protected. So, what are some key steps financial institutions can take to ensure their organization is protected when key personnel take time off?

  1. Have a Solid Layered Security Program
  2. Financial institutions should employ a strategy that places many uniquely tailored layers throughout the network. By employing multiple controls, security layers ensure that gaps or weaknesses in one control, or layer of controls, are compensated for by others. This includes scanning your network for threats on a regular basis and ensuring all patches are up to date. Implementing a layered approach to security enables institutions to catch security incidents before they become damaging. The right balance of security layers allows staff to automate security tasks and takes the pressure off one individual managing the entire security program.

  3. Create a Strong Security Culture and Adequately Train Staff
  4. An important part of combatting cyber attacks is ensuring that all bank and credit union employees are comfortable highlighting security-related issues and will follow the appropriate steps to ensure they get resolved. This means staff must be adequately trained to spot security issues; understand the importance of protecting sensitive information; and recognize the risks of mishandling this data. All employees should know how to report anomalies, mistakes, or any concerns immediately. To effectively execute this, employees must understand what to look for; where key vulnerabilities lie; what steps to take when a security issue arises; and who they should alert.

  5. Partner With an Industry-Specific IT Security Provider
  6. Complimentary White PaperManaging Risk with Truly Secure Vendor Management Program Get a Copy

    To help augment security responsibilities and combat cyber-attacks, many community financial institutions are turning to industry-specific IT and security service providers familiar with banking regulations to act as an extension of their organization. These organizations act as true partners and work alongside current staff to provide timely support, and they help the financial institution successfully design and execute a comprehensive security strategy. An IT and security service provider can help automate and control many of the administrative functions that normally fall to the IT security department, making it less daunting for personnel to take time away from the office.

Cybercrime is one of the greatest security challenges and concerns for financial institutions today, and community banks and credit unions cannot be complacent when it comes to protecting themselves and the sensitive information they hold. When the security staff is out or unavailable, outsourcing security processes helps fill the personnel gap and provide added stability for the institution and peace of mind to all.

At Safe Systems we understand the challenges that come with managing security programs and ensuring the network is safe and secure. By making the decision to partner with Safe Systems, your organization will benefit from time-saving automation, an in-depth view of your IT network environment, and additional support in co-managing your IT security operations. We want to provide you with assurance that the institution’s IT network is functioning efficiently, optimally, securely, and is in compliance with industry regulations at all times.

04 Oct 2017
What is RegTech and Why is it Important for My Organization

What Is RegTech and Why Is It Important for My Organization?

What is RegTech and Why is it Important for My Organization

The financial services industry is continually evolving, especially when it comes to regulatory and compliance changes. The number of regulatory changes a bank has to manage on a daily basis has increased from 10 in 2004, to 185 in 2017. To stay abreast of these changes more than a third of financial firms continue to spend at least a full work day each week tracking and analyzing regulatory changes, according to recent research by Thomson Reuters. Regulatory compliance efforts have become a resource consuming, expensive inefficiency within financial institutions, which has led to the development of a new technology product category: regulatory technology, or RegTech.

What is RegTech?

A relatively new term, RegTech, refers to a set of companies and solutions that address regulatory challenges through innovative technology. RegTech is a subset of FinTech that focuses on technologies that facilitate the delivery of regulatory requirements more efficiently and effectively than traditional compliance processes.

RegTech helps financial services organizations automate compliance tasks and reduce operational risks associated with meeting regulatory requirements and reporting obligations. In addition, the technology empowers organizations to make informed choices based on the actual data provided through the system. This data highlights the actual compliance risks the organization faces and how it mitigates and manages those risks.

Why is RegTech Important?

The relationship between compliance and technology is nothing new; however, it is becoming more important as the sheer number of regulatory changes rises along with an increased focus on data and reporting. U.S. financial institutions now spend more than $70 billion annually on compliance, and the market for regulatory and compliance software is expected to reach $118 billion by 2020.

Key Benefits of RegTech to Financial Institutions:

  1. Reduced cost of compliance efforts by simplifying and standardizing compliance processes and reducing the need for manual intervention
  2. Increased flexibility and growth opportunities due to the efficiency gains RegTech solutions provide;
  3. Data analytics enables regulatory information to be analyzed, helping organizations proactively identify risks and issues and remedy them in an efficient manner;
  4. RegTech enables risk and control frameworks that can be seamlessly linked.

Attributes of RegTech Solutions

Due to the complexity and momentum of regulatory changes, RegTech solutions must be customizable and easy to integrate into a variety of environments. No two institutions are alike but properly designed RegTech solutions should help to guide institutions to a better overall compliance posture.

RegTech solutions are usually cloud-based, providing the ability to maintain, manage and back-up data remotely, while ensuring all data is secure in a cost-efficient manner. The level of agility that cloud-based solutions offer ensures a high level of security and control over an institution’s compliance data. Overall, the technology is designed to reduce implementation time, enabling financial institutions to spend more time focusing on revenue-generating activities.

What do regulators think of RegTech?

Regulators around the world have been encouraging the adoption of RegTech. Many RegTech solutions enable financial institutions to not only streamline their reporting, but also have better oversight of their data. This makes it easier for regulators in the event they need to review time-sensitive information.

The need to ensure compliance and regulatory requirements are met has spawned new activity in the financial services arena. The use of technology to help streamline and automate the time-consuming processes of monitoring compliance and regulatory changes, risk monitoring and regulatory reporting will continue to gain momentum as regulations evolve and regulators expectations grow. RegTech solutions are quickly becoming standard operating tools for all financial organizations.

Safe Systems has combined compliance and technology to create RegTech solutions for financial institutions for over 25 years.

28 Jun 2017
The CAT Isn’t Mandatory, So Why Should We Complete It

The CAT Isn’t Mandatory, So Why Should We Complete It?

The CAT Isn’t Mandatory, So Why Should We Complete It

Due to the increasing volume and sophistication of cyber threats financial institutions are facing, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) developed the Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) to help institutions identify their risks and determine their cybersecurity preparedness with a repeatable and measurable process. The CAT helps financial institutions weigh specific risks such as gaps in IT security, versus controls or solutions aimed to prevent, detect and respond to these threats and determine areas for improvement. Each institution is then responsible for identifying its own risk appetite and establishing its desired level of maturity. Using the CAT, financial institutions can understand where their security practices fall short and how to effectively address those gaps.

When the CAT was initially released in 2015, it was promoted as a free and optional tool available to financial institutions to help assess their cybersecurity preparedness. However, regulatory agencies including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) have announced plans to incorporate the assessment into their examination procedures. Today, many examiners are using the tool to assess an institution’s cybersecurity readiness and have already begun to issue citations to financial institutions that have lapses or are not meeting expectations.

Even though the CAT is voluntary, all financial institutions are required to evaluate inherent risk and cybersecurity maturity in some way, which requires a robust assessment program. Completing the CAT is a good way to prepare for audits since the guidelines provide community banks and credit unions with detailed information on the federal government’s expectations for cybersecurity preparedness. The CAT enables financial institutions to identify vulnerabilities, fill in security gaps, and demonstrate a stronger security posture before the examination begins.

In addition to meeting examiner expectations, completing the CAT benefits financial institutions by helping them:

  • Determine whether controls are properly addressing their identified risks
  • Identify cyber risk factors and assessing cybersecurity preparedness
  • Make more informed risk management decisions
  • Demonstrate the institution’s commitment to cybersecurity and
  • Prepare the organization for an upcoming audit.

When using the CAT correctly, it can provide a cost-effective methodology to help improve security, instill client trust, and avoid losses from a breach. For it to provide the greatest positive impact it should be completed periodically on an enterprise-wide basis, as well as when significant operational and technical changes occur. Completing the CAT helps community banks and credit unions understand the key risks they face and what controls they need in place to protect the institution’s data, leading to increased knowledge of regulatory expectations and a stronger, more compliant cybersecurity program.

For more information, please download our complimentary white paper, Understanding the FFIEC’s CAT: How Your Institution Can Improve Its Cybersecurity Posture.

Free White Paper

Understanding the FFIEC’s CAT

Understanding the FFIEC’s CAT: How Your Institution Can Improve Its Cybersecurity Posture

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17 May 2017
Choosing a Credit Union Vendor

Evaluating and Selecting Third-Party Vendor Relationships – What your Credit Union Needs to Know

Choosing a Credit Union Vendor

The majority of credit unions rely on third-party service providers for specialized IT services and technology that improve the overall quality and efficiency of the organization and for mission-critical software and hardware to actually run their business. As such, third-party providers have become an essential component of day-to-day operations, but it is important that credit unions understand the operational and reputational risks they assume if they do not select and manage these relationships and providers appropriately.

Some of the potential risks of using a third-party service provider include:

  • Compliance risks including violations of laws, rules or regulations or non-compliance with policies and procedures;
  • Reputational risks including dissatisfied members or regulation violations that lead to public enforcement actions;
  • Operational risks including losses from failed processes or systems, or losses of data that result in privacy issues;
  • Transaction risks including problems with service or delivery; and
  • Credit risks if a third-party is unable to meet its contractual obligations.

To help eliminate some of the risk that comes when working with third-party providers, there are several steps a credit union should take and processes that should be put into place before entering into an agreement with an outsourced provider. Before entering into a third-party relationship, credit unions should:

  • Determine whether the relationship complements their credit union’s overall mission and philosophy;
  • Document how the relationship will relate to the credit union’s strategic plan;
  • Design action plans to achieve short-term and long-term objectives;
  • Perform proper due diligence on all vendors;
  • Assign authority and responsibility for new third-party arrangements; and
  • Weigh the risks and benefits of outsourcing business functions with the risks and benefits of maintaining those functions in-house, if possible.

Once a vendor is selected, credit unions should:

  • Adopt risk management processes to coincide with the level of risk and complexity of its third-party relationship;
  • Implement an effective risk management process throughout the life cycle of the relationship including: plans that outline the credit union’s strategy, identification of the inherent risks of the activity, and detailing of how the credit union selects, assesses, and oversees the third-party;
  • Have written contracts that outline the rights and responsibilities of all parties;
  • Implement a process for ongoing monitoring of the third-party’s activities and performance;
  • Have a contingency plan for terminating the relationship in an effective manner; and
  • Have clear documentation and reporting to meet NCUA regulations and requirements.

Following all of these steps and ensuring third-party relationships are managed correctly can be a time-consuming, often cumbersome responsibility for credit union staff. In response, credit unions are looking for ways to more efficiently perform due diligence and manage their outsourced vendors, protect themselves from risk, and maintain NCUA compliance and requirements. Credit unions often determine that implementing an industry-specific and automated vendor management program is the most cost-efficient method to control and manage these risks. When implemented correctly, automated vendor management solutions can save a tremendous amount of time and money, reduce risks and eliminate potential compliance issues.

For more information please download our white paper, Why Automation is the Answer to Credit Unions’ Vendor Management Challenge

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Why Automation is the Answer for Credit Unions’ Vendor Management Challenge

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07 Dec 2016

Small Town Bank Maintains Compliance Posture with Safe Systems’ Cybersecurity RADAR Application

Cybersecurity Defense

Compliance and regulatory issues, especially as they relate to cybersecurity, are top of mind concerns for financial institutions. For many community banks keeping up with the ever changing regulatory requirements and expectations can be a challenge. One area of concern for many banks is the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s (FFIEC) CAT, which was released in June 2015 and is designed to ensure banks are prepared in the event of a cybersecurity attack. Although regulators said they would not require banks to complete the CAT, they began using this set of criteria to examine institutions and determine their level of cybersecurity preparedness.

This was the case for Small Town Bank, a $215 million institution headquartered in Wedowee, Ala., that serves East Central Alabama and its surrounding communities. To comply with the FFIEC’s cybersecurity requirements, Small Town Bank began implementation of the new CAT requirements. However, the bank’s IT department found the 123-page assessment to be a time consuming and cumbersome task for the bank to manage and understand. The bank was unclear on what they needed to do to improve their cybersecurity processes and understood they needed to find a more efficient way to complete the assessment, understand their level of risk and make improvements to their IT environment.

The Solution – Safe Systems’ Cybersecurity RADAR Application

Small Town Bank began looking for a solution that could simplify this process and provide guidance on exactly what the staff needed to do to improve its compliance posture. When the bank heard about Safe Systems’ new automated cybersecurity tool, the staff was excited to learn more about its key features and functionality and how this product could help them achieve their long-term goals for cybersecurity. The Cybersecurity RADAR solution combines compliance expertise with an Enhanced Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (ECAT) application to help document notes for examiners, create reports and maintain an up-to-date record of the assessment. After reviewing the information about the Cybersecurity RADAR product, Small Town Bank knew it would have a knowledgeable team to provide expert knowledge and support to ensure a more streamline assessment process.

The Results – Improved IT Examination Results

Working with Safe Systems, Small Town Bank was able to realize significant operational efficiencies in its CAT assessment reviews and reporting and reduced the time its staff spent on completing the CAT from days to hours.

For more information on how Safe Systems helped Small Town Bank, please download our complementary case study, Small Town Bank Improves IT Examination Results.

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Small Town Bank Improves Their IT Examination Results

Learn how Jennifer Dendinger, Information Technology Officer at
Small Town Bank, reduced the time needed to complete the CAT

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09 Nov 2016

How an Automated Solution Can Enhance Your Cybersecurity Posture

How an Automated Solution Can Enhance Your Cybersecurity Posture

Our industry has seen the frequency and severity of cybersecurity attacks continue to increase, with recent attacks involving extortion, destructive malware and compromised credentials. In fact according to the FDIC, Information Security Incidents were up 48% in 2014, and we expect similar increases this year. In light of the increasing volume and sophistication of cyber threats, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) developed the Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) in 2015. The assessment provides institutions with a repeatable and measureable process to inform management of their institution’s cybersecurity risks and preparedness.

What Do Examiners Expect You to Demonstrate?

While use of the CAT by financial institutions is voluntary, examiners expect all financial institutions to use some sort of framework or risk assessment process to demonstrate cybersecurity preparedness. This is important not only for the health of the institution, but also for the financial industry as a whole. Moreover, careful consideration of cybersecurity risk is absolutely critical when complying with regulatory requirements, as the new cyber elements will be added to future IT examinations. For many bankers, responding to an IT examination has become so time-consuming that it is essentially full time job. Having a user-friendly automated tool would certainly help streamline the assessment process, but to date, the FFIEC has not indicated that it intends to release an automated version of the CAT.

So, increasingly bankers are investigating their options when it comes to automating the assessment and reporting process. A well-designed automated solution should help financial institutions take a more informed, proactive approach to managing periodic FFIEC cybersecurity assessments. It should help bankers easily identify and resolve any cybersecurity gaps in an efficient manner, while also meeting examiner expectations. Such a solution enables the financial institution to collect, summarize, and report on its cybersecurity posture coherently (and consistently) and be better prepared for the actual IT exam.

Your cybersecurity compliance solution should enable your institution to:

  • Simplify the initial assessment by providing plain-English clarification for confusing questions;
  • Provide a way to actually track responses from one assessment to the next, which helps with reporting back to regulators in terms of consistency and in better articulating progress over time;
  • Develop thorough reports for the Board and other stakeholders, as well as a clearly articulated action plan;
  • Be more proactive vs. reactive in managing cybersecurity risks, by including items such as incident response testing and Board reporting;
  • Reduce the possibility of misinterpretation of information or questions, which can impact the accuracy of the entire assessment; and
  • Better understand or predict what to expect from regulators in the future.
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Driving Compliance Through Technology

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institution’s compliance posture



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An Automated Solution for Community Banks

At Safe Systems, we understand that managing cybersecurity has become very time consuming and stressful for financial institutions. To help streamline this process, we have developed Cybersecurity RADAR. This comprehensive compliance solution couples compliance expertise with access to our Enhanced Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (ECAT) application. We’ve transformed the FFIEC’s 123-page Cybersecurity Assessment Tool into a much more user-friendly digital interface. The web-based ECAT application is designed to capture and document periodic changes to an institution’s risk and maturity, empowering you to measure the state of your cybersecurity risks and controls within the FFIEC’s framework, and easily generate reports in preparation for Board meetings or exams.

In alignment with the ECAT, our compliance consultants will help you complete the assessment, identiy and resolve cybersecurity gaps, complete cyber Incident Response testing, and report to the Board, and train employees. This combination helps community banks and credit unions clearly demonstrate Cybersecurity preparedness and ensure a smoother IT exam process.