Tag: NetComply One

12 Dec 2019
Five Ways Strategic Advisors Help Community Banks and Credit Unions Improve IT Planning

5 Ways Strategic Advisors Help Community Banks and Credit Unions Improve IT Planning

Five Ways Strategic Advisors Help Community Banks and Credit Unions Improve IT Planning

The day-to-day responsibilities of managing the IT network administration, compliance efforts, and security measures for a community financial institution have grown to be a cumbersome, challenging, and often inefficient process. It is likely that there is not enough people and resources on the team to manage the multiple solutions and responsibilities.

To help combat the limited staff issue, many community banks and credit unions turn to managed services providers that have strategic advisors who act as facilitators and trusted partners to guide technology committees and provide tools to address financial regulatory governance. These advisors have a wealth of banking IT expertise and are knowledgeable regarding regulatory and industry issues faced by financial institutions today. They also serve as a convenient, single point of contact within the managed service provider, and assist by performing the following tasks:

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  1. Attend Technology Steering Committee Meetings
  2. Participating in regular steering committee meetings enables the strategic advisor to interact with decision makers and help with deliberation, consideration, and recommendations on IT-related issues. They can help mitigate potential risks that are often overlooked while sharing the knowledge and insight needed to help move the financial institution in a positive direction.

  3. Assist with Strategic IT planning
  4. Strategic advisors have a wealth of knowledge and insight into not only the banking and financial services arena, but the IT solutions needed for a financial institution to be successful. They help banks and credit unions develop a comprehensive plan to ensure the institution is implementing and utilizing the solutions necessary to meet its goals.

  5. Facilitate Responses to Pre-exam IT Questionnaires
  6. The exam process has become a time-consuming endeavor. At the beginning of the exam process, the examiner typically sends a list of items they want to review; certain areas they plan to examine; and items they plan to discuss. This normally includes a list of questions the financial institution must prepare ahead of the review. The strategic advisor works with the bank or credit union to complete the questions to meet examiner expectations.

  7. Provide Updates on Current Trends in Compliance, Technology, and Security
  8. The advancement of technology, online banking services, compliance, and regulatory requirements, have made the business of banking more challenging. Strategic advisors provide knowledge and information to help banks and credit unions stay abreast of all the updates and trends in the industry.

  9. Quarterly System Reviews and Assessments
  10. Performing regular assessments helps the financial institution ensure all things related to IT network technology controls are working and up to date. It also serves as time for the strategic advisor to educate bank personnel on new or changing government regulations and expectations. This helps community banks and credit unions to remain in compliance and be better prepared for audits and exams.

With this type of guidance, financial institutions can gain deeper technology insights and enhance strategic IT planning. Strategic advisors act as an extension of the internal team while helping guide and advise the bank or credit union on initiatives that ensure success today and into the future.

07 Nov 2019
How CEOs Can Ensure Continuity In their Bank or Credit Union With Network Management

How CEOs Can Ensure Continuity in their Bank or Credit Union with Network Management

How CEOs Can Ensure Continuity In their Bank or Credit Union With Network Management

The role of a community bank or credit union CEO has become increasingly complex with responsibilities including oversight of all operations and procedures—no small task in light of today’s rapidly changing technology and security landscape, evolving compliance, and shifts in consumer behavior when selecting a banking partner. Given this, many CEOs are struggling to ensure continuity in this environment, especially working with limited resources and increased employee turnover.

An effective way to do this is to partner with a managed services provider that has a comprehensive network management solution designed specifically for community banks and credit unions to provide expertise, services, IT support and add to the existing internal knowledge bases.

Sustaining Personnel Continuity

The reality is that today, community banks and credit unions must address succession planning, especially as it relates to their IT department. CEOs are tasked with thinking about and planning for redundancy to counter the consequences of key staff leaving and taking that knowledge-base with them—and away from the institution. But true continuity is not limited to a single employee resigning; there needs to be a continuity plan in place to account for when employees take vacation, are out sick, are on short-term disability, or are on maternity leave. Regardless of the situation, a managed services provider can help minimize uncertainty, prevent unnecessary stress, and assure continuity by acting as an extension of a bank or credit union and helping to augment internal IT resources.

Ensuring Technology Continuity

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In addition to human capital, technology continuity is a key component of a community financial institution’s success. The advancement of technology, online banking services, compliance, and regulatory requirements, plus the growing demand from customers and members to have 24/7 access to their financial lives, has made the business of banking that much more challenging as it has become more IT-focused. This has made it crucial for banks and credit unions to have a proven technology program and framework in place to ensure that operations continually run smoothly.

Working with a provider who offers IT network management solutions exclusively tailored for the community banking industry provides a level of continuity and expertise that can otherwise be difficult to maintain internally on a long-term basis. Doing so ensures that the financial institution’s network is properly adhering to its operational, security, and compliance policies and procedures.

Continued Adherence to Government Regulations and Compliance

The burden of understanding how an ever-growing list of regulations applies to IT operations is shared across the organization. This pressure can be alleviated by an outsourced provider that truly understands the industry and is able to help institutions better manage their processes in a compliant manner. Taking a proactive approach to network management, for example, gives community banks and credit unions the ability to better stay ahead of new and pending regulatory requirements while effectively managing costs through limited resources.

Change is inevitable for any institution. However, having the ability to withstand change and still meet (or better yet, exceed) customer and member demands and expectations in spite of personnel turnover, natural disasters, technology struggles, etc. is key in today’s marketplace. An experienced managed services provider that offers a comprehensive network management system can go a long way toward ensuring continuity.

31 Oct 2019
IT, Compliance, Security and Personnel Challenges That De Novos Face

IT, Compliance, Security and Personnel Challenges That De Novos Face

IT, Compliance, Security and Personnel Challenges That De Novos Face

While the economy is making way for startups, there are still significant challenges to starting a bank from scratch. In addition to the overall challenging environment for community banks and the need to raise significant capital and funding, De Novos face additional obstacles such as complex regulatory and compliance expectations, strict information security requirements, and the stress of finding qualified staff in continuously evolving IT landscape.

People

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Attracting and retaining the right people is one of the most daunting steps in launching a De Novo, particularly because early on, everyone needs to be very hands-on and wear multiple hats. Hiring the right personnel takes time and resources and can force executives who are trying to secure funding and capital for opening the bank to redirect their attention. All of this makes staffing and the development of in-house expertise significant pain points for De Novos to manage.

Technology

The advancement of information technology, security, compliance, and regulatory expectations and online banking services—plus the growing demand from customers to have 24/7 access to their financial lives—have changed the business of banking. Today, bankers have expanded their focus to include management of data, IT networks, compliance requirements, and security, in addition to their traditional roles of managing money and providing loans for their customers. Because technology has become central to the operations of banks, De Novos must quickly establish a proven technology program and framework to ensure that their operations run smoothly both at launch and ongoing. Even with the latest technology, however, the challenge often lies in trying to keep pace with the rapid rate of change that continues to impact their institution.

Information Security

From day one, De Novos must establish a strong information security posture to counter the increasing frequency of cyberattacks in today’s business environment. While falling victim to security breaches and associated attacks is costly for any community bank, both from a financial and reputational standpoint, it is especially harmful to new banks that are working hard to establish trust among its new customers and the community. Furthermore, successfully recovering from the damage and destruction of data, theft of personal and financial data, and disruption to the normal business operations can exceed a De Novo’s financial resources.

Compliance

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Regulators have historically been more stringent in ensuring that De Novos are in compliance with, and adhering to, expectations. As an example, the FDIC’s InTREx program (Information Technology Risk Examination) is designed to provide a more uniform and less subjective examination experience—one that requires a deeper analysis by the examiner and in turn puts a greater compliance burden on the bank. Proper documentation will often make the difference between a “satisfactory” and a “less than satisfactory” assessment. This means that institutions must be adequately prepared to meet examiner expectations. In addition to proving that the bank has enough capital to operate, they must also prove they, with all applicable laws, regulations, and supervisory policies. De Novos have found managing regulatory compliance efforts to be a resource-consuming and expensive task.

Today’s complex regulations, increased use of technology, personnel restraints, and security expectations, are forcing De Novos to find new ways to manage risk, remain compliant, and be competitive in today’s environment. Under these mounting pressures, De Novos are increasingly turning to managed service providers to help bear the burden and establish a framework to meet these challenges. Such partners bring knowledge, additional resources and expertise to help financial institutions better control and more successfully manage their complex IT environments – positioning them to operate in today’s financial services arena with a greater degree of confidence and success.

24 Oct 2019
Reducing Risk for CEOs

Reducing Risk: Top 4 Things CEOs Can do to Reduce Risk in their Bank or Credit Union

Reducing Risk for CEOs

The role of a community bank and credit union CEO has expanded and now requires a much deeper understanding of technology issues, risks, and regulatory requirements. CEOs are ultimately responsible for the health of the institution, which requires effective oversight of all operations and procedures and ensuring the institution is efficiently managing and reducing risk.

Many risk events arise from preventable mistakes, including: the right security layers not being in place; flaws in transaction processing; flaws in IT solutions and processes; security breaches; and/or outright fraudulent acts.
The CEO is ultimately responsible for ensuring the institution manages and combats these risks. Some key things CEOs can do or implement to reduce risk include:

  • Attract and Retain Skilled Staff

The CEO must make sure that the staff has the knowledge to ensure the institution is both compliant and competitive in today’s market. Employees must understand the ever-growing complexity of regulations as they relate to IT operations and ensure the institution remains compliant with continuously changing regulatory requirements and is up-to-date with evolving technology to meet customer and member demands and expectations.

  • Implement Information Security Procedures

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The CEO must ensure proper technologies and solutions to thwart viruses, spyware, and other harmful threats are installed. This entails overseeing the creation of enforceable policies and processes to both educate employees and protect the institution’s computer infrastructure, networks, and data. Cybersecurity represents a large component of the risk prevention strategy. Ensuring security defenses fit closely with the institution’s long-term goals as well as support the IT and compliance strategies is vital to not only the health of the organization but also in remaining compliant with current regulations.

  • Understand Compliance and Regulatory Expectations

Regulators now pay more attention to issues around governance, security, and IT solutions than they have in the past, and they have made clear that it is on CEOs to make sure that the institution is adequately protecting customer or member data, are aware of the institution’s operations, and are following all FFIEC and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) requirements. The CEO must evaluate risk assessment efforts and security initiatives and establish policies regarding the management of key compliance and consumer risks to ensure the organization adheres to the correct policies.

  • Partner with the Right Managed Services Provider

More and more community financial institutions are turning to third-party providers for expertise, services, and IT support. Working with a provider who offers solutions exclusively tailored for community banks and credit unions ensures the institution’s network adheres to its operational, security, and compliance policies and procedures. Partnering with the right managed service provider can also help eliminate redundant resources, reduce existing fixed costs by maximizing capacity and leveraging economies of scale, and can add to existing internal knowledge bases.

CEOs of community financial institutions are continuously looking for ways to more efficiently and effectively manage risk. As a result, they are increasingly recognizing that partnering with a managed service provider that offers a comprehensive network management system, designed specifically for the financial services industry, helps them not only better manage their responsibilities and streamline processes, but reduces their regulatory risks as well.

To gain more insight into how CEOs can reduce risk, as well as other IT management issues for CEOs to be aware of, download our white paper, Top 3 IT Management Worries for CEOs in Banking.

17 Oct 2019
Morris Bank Experiences Growth with the Help of Safe Systems’ Network Management Solution

Morris Bank Experiences Growth with the Help of Safe Systems’ Network Management Solution

Morris Bank Experiences Growth with the Help of Safe Systems’ Network Management Solution

In today’s fast-paced, technology driven environment, managing community banks’ IT operations and networks have become a very time-consuming process to execute, especially for financial institutions looking to achieve strong growth, increase acquisitions, and build brand new institutions for their communities. The number of patch updates, reporting requirements, network troubleshooting, and regulatory compliance responsibilities are cumbersome for many IT professionals to handle while also working to keep bank operations running efficiently and seamlessly in various branches and locations.

Creating an Environment for Growth

Many community banks set out to build the best institutions for their communities, and when they’re successful, the next logical step is to expand. Morris Bank, headquartered in Dublin, Georgia, was on a mission to grow by offering more services, more locations, and more opportunities for their customers to thrive. A major challenge for banks that take on this task is ensuring IT operations are implemented and managed effectively, especially during these periods of growth and change, and that the institution is compliant with all regulatory requirements.

Larry Schenck, IT Officer at Morris Bank, realized the bank was already engaged with a provider that could help him more efficiently manage and meet the growing IT needs of the institution. Morris Bank has been a Safe Systems customer for 15 years. Schenck knew that they understood the demands of the banking industry and could adequately support the bank’s IT and compliance requirements. After careful consideration, Morris Bank decided to implement Safe Systems’ NetComply® One IT network management solution in 2016.

As a community bank with limited staff and branches in several locations, Morris Bank relies heavily on third-party providers, such as Safe Systems, to offer new opportunities to streamline processes. NetComply One helps Morris Bank efficiently manage all important network tasks including automated patch management, network monitoring, qualified alerting, and detailed reporting for examiners. Since the bank implemented Safe Systems to manage its IT network, the IT team has been able to focus on more revenue-generating opportunities and market expansions that have led to great successes for the bank.

“Our vendors play a key part in our success as well, and working with Safe Systems has helped us to simplify IT processes, meet compliance guidelines, and provide continuity for our internal team and our community as a whole.”

The last 10 years brought on a lot of change and growth for Morris Bank. The bank grew its total assets from roughly $180 million to $980 million and added seven locations to equal nine branches throughout Middle and South Georgia in Dublin, Gray, Gordon, Warner Robins, Statesboro, and Brooklet. The bank was able to grow so successfully by not only acquiring other smaller banks and their assets but also by opening branches in desirable locations. In fact, after being opened only two-years, the branch in Gray was the fastest growing bank branch in the state of Georgia.

“At Morris Bank, we have a great management team and an amazing staff that enable us to keep growing and continue to provide great service to our customers,” said Schenck. “Our vendors play a key part in our success as well, and working with Safe Systems has helped us to simplify IT processes, meet compliance guidelines, and provide continuity for our internal team and our community as a whole.”

Overcoming Challenges with Network Management

Acquiring banks and branches is a complex process, especially in terms of IT integration. All equipment and systems must be brought onto the same network and operate through the same infrastructure. Compatibility is not always easy, and often, the larger the bank or branch being acquired, the more complicated the task.

One of the bank’s recent acquisitions included three branches with 40 employees; more than 40 workstations; several servers; and additional devices and systems that needed to be set up on the network. First, all systems and devices must be tested for updated patches and antivirus. While this can be a cumbersome task, Safe Systems’ network management system enabled the bank to efficiently manage and complete the process. “Onboarding new machines and getting all systems set up on the network is a challenging task during an acquisition,” said Schenck. “With the reporting NetComply One offers, we can easily see which machines need updates, remedy any issues and have more visibility into the network to efficiently manage integrations.”

In addition to the reporting from NetComply One, Morris Bank relies on Safe Systems’ Strategic Advisors to help them navigate the processes needed to complete integrations. With the knowledge the advisors provide, the bank has been able to complete the challenging tasks of ensuring all systems are working in a compliant manner and all branches are running efficiently.

The patch management component of NetComply One has also been very important for Morris Bank. The bank has approximately 250 computers to manage and keep up to date with patches, which is critical to information security and combating cyber threats. “While Safe Systems manages and provides the patches, they are also very careful to not just arbitrarily patch machines and equipment without proper testing,” says Schenck. “Safe Systems tests each patch to ensure it will work with our current systems and ensure no holes will be left for hackers to exploit.”

Building a Strong Partnership

Morris Bank relies on a number of vendors to offer its customers key products and services that give them more convenience and control. Over the years, they have added additional Safe Systems services, including their Vendor Management solution. This solution enables a more efficient risk assessment and due diligence process, as well as provides the ability to proactively manage vendor renewals, centralize all important documents, and have detailed information to share with auditors, examiners, senior management, and the Board.

“Regulators are more closely scrutinizing the vendor management process within banks, and with Safe Systems’ vendor management solution, we are able to easily provide the proper documentation to examiners in an efficient manner,” said Schenck.

I worry less and sleep better at night knowing we have Safe Systems’ solutions running in our bank.”

Through its partnership with Safe Systems, Morris Bank has been able to expand its reach in all areas of technology, compliance, and security. The bank receives positive feedback from regulators on its network management and vendor management programs and has enhanced its compliance posture.

“Through the years, Safe Systems has been a valuable and trusted partner to our bank,” said Schenck. “The solutions Safe Systems provide enable us to give our customers a better banking experience as well as a more efficient work environment for our employees. I worry less and sleep better at night knowing we have Safe Systems’ solutions running in our bank.”

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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

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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.”

24 Jan 2019
What Community Financial Institutions Should Look for in a Managed Services Provider

What Community Financial Institutions Should Look for in a Managed Services Provider

What Community Financial Institutions Should Look for in a Managed Services Provider

The majority of banks and credit unions rely on managed services providers to help them improve efficiencies in their organization, meet mounting regulatory compliance requirements, and provide the competitive products and services their customers and members expect.

However, selecting the right managed services provider can be challenging. We have highlighted some key qualities that community banks and credit unions should look for when choosing trusted partners.

A managed services provider should have a true understanding of the following areas:

The community banking and credit union industries

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A managed services provider must truly understand the “ins and outs” of operating a community bank or credit union. This includes recognizing the industry trends, realizing the importance of priorities, such as customer- and/or member-service related touch points, and understanding regulatory and compliance issues. Not knowing how a community financial institution operates is a hindrance that can prohibit the provider from effectively meeting the demands of the institution and makes it unlikely that it will be in a position to offer informed recommendations on improvements and solutions to existing issues.

Financial services technology

Technology is ever-changing and it is nearly impossible for any one person to successfully keep up with all of the advancements. To provide the technological solutions and services that a community bank or credit union requires, a managed services provider should understand the technical requirements of all banking technology solutions, starting with the core platform. Since many applications have to work with — and integrate into — the core platform, it is impossible to design an efficient and comprehensive network without first an understanding of core platforms and banking technology.

Regulatory compliance requirements

The evolving world of financial regulatory compliance governs every aspect of your IT network and that includes what hardware and software you choose to deploy. In today’s banking environment, vendors must be able to make recommendations on how to manage hardware and software to meet regulatory expectations, meet regulatory expectations such as, verifying all patches, ensuring security measures are up to date, and maintaining access to critical services during a disaster.

Working with the wrong managed services provider can be time-consuming, cumbersome, and even stressful. However, working with a provider who offers the desired services and who truly understands your industry can help guide the institution in today’s challenging financial environment. A good partnership is key to ensuring your organization remains competitive and profitable for years to come.

14 Sep 2018
American Pride Bank Partners with Safe Systems to Successfully Launch New Institution

American Pride Bank Partners with Safe Systems to Successfully Launch New Institution

American Pride Bank Partners with Safe Systems to Successfully Launch New Institution

An efficient network environment is important to ensure that bank operations run smoothly, especially for new financial institutions. Preparing a bank for a grand opening involves setting up workstations, equipment, servers and software for the entire organization – all of which can prove daunting for an institution with limited IT staff.

Nicole Rinehart, vice president of Macon, Ga.-based American Pride Bank, quickly found herself in this situation when managing the launch of the de novo bank. She realized she needed assistance and support with the bank’s IT initiatives to get the institution up and running as soon as possible.

“As the only IT person in the bank, I had a big assignment to accomplish getting the bank open and ready for business,” said Rinehart. “I had never dealt with a company like Safe Systems before, but with their professionalism and expertise in the banking industry, I felt that they were a great partner to help us with this project.”

Streamline IT Operations and Compliance Processes

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American Pride Bank implemented Safe Systems’ IT network management service, NetComply® One, allowing it to automate a variety of IT functions to ensure its network would be secure and compliant. With NetComply One, the bank can monitor and manage IT compliance and security from one centralized platform; easily receive alerts; provide detailed reports to examiners and Board of Directors; receive network updates; streamline patch management and other manual tasks and obtain expert support from Safe Systems’ team. Rinehart is also able to access the bank’s network remotely to monitor and manage day-to-day maintenance issues that arise.

After the initial set up, the bank switched locations seven months later, and Safe Systems was right there to transfer all of the equipment, servers, and workstations to the new building. The support from the technical engineers made the transition seamless and stress-free for the entire organization.

“NetComply One is a one-stop-shop for technology, compliance, and security,” Rinehart said. “When examiners come into the bank, our audits are flawless because we have thorough, real-time data to share that meets regulatory expectations and shows that our network is functioning securely and efficiently. The platform streamlines our IT processes and reduces the amount of time I spend on manual IT tasks, allowing me to focus on more valuable activities for the bank.”

For more information, download the full success story, American Pride Bank Enhances IT Network Management Processes.

12 Sep 2018
Streamline Network Reporting to Better Meet FFIEC Requirements

Streamline Network Reporting to Better Meet FFIEC Requirements

Streamline Network Reporting to Better Meet FFIEC Requirements

Annual exams and regulator expectations continue to change and become more cumbersome for financial institutions, regardless of size. The entire exam process, starting with the preparation, can be an extremely time consuming and stressful process to complete given the amount of reports and information the bank or credit union is required to provide. To manage this process efficiently, community banks and credit unions must understand what examiners are looking for and be able to streamline processes to ensure the proper documentation is prepared prior to the exam.

The Compliance Challenge

Regulatory agencies are requesting an increasing number of documents and reports even before the exam begins. Financial institutions are usually asked to prepare between 40-100 items for each exam or audit and institutions have between 11-20 exams per year, making exam preparation alone a cumbersome, full-time task, and one that can be overwhelming for a financial institution with a small IT department. This doesn’t even take into account the amount of time spent providing accurate responses to requests and reviewing and remediating findings.

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Some of the reports requested by government agencies include:

  • Documentation of patch management programs;
  • Vendor management program reports;
  • Network Vulnerability Scan reports;
  • Back-up verification and reporting;
  • Inventory and auditing logs;
  • Remote Control Logs;
  • Training logs;
  • Detailed Executive Summaries; and
  • Security Control Logs and Verification.

With limited resources, many community financial institutions struggle to efficiently meet examiner expectations and provide reports that are timely, accurate, complete, and consistent.

Automate the Network Reporting Process

Community financial institutions are looking for ways to better manage their regulatory reporting requirements. To help streamline this process, financial institutions are implementing a network management system with an automated reporting function that allows institutions to easily configure, customize and generate reports to meet examiner expectations.

A comprehensive network management system designed specifically for financial institutions can help the IT department quickly produce and effectively manage custom reports for exams. Having a solution that automates IT reporting based on FFIEC requirements, helps banks and credit unions to more efficiently prepare for exams. In addition, increased visibility to the network helps IT managers simplify processes and provide proper documentation to examiners.


Remaining in compliance with government regulations is a consuming responsibility for institutions of all sizes. Regulatory agencies are continually changing and increasing the amount of reports they require. To help ease this compliance challenge and streamline reporting activities, financial institutions should adopt applications that will increase efficiencies with automation.

05 Sep 2018
8 Key Requirements of the CAT to Consider

Does Your Network Management Comply with the CAT? 8 Key Requirements to Consider

The threat to network systems has increased significantly over the last few years, and the consequences of a breach can be potentially disastrous for organizations and individuals alike. Due to the volume and sophistication of cyber threats, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) plays a major part in helping financial institutions identify risk and understand their cybersecurity preparedness. To better protect the network, financial institutions must understand where their security practices fall short and how to effectively address those gaps. The CAT provides a clear set of standards to ensure an institution’s network systems are managed efficiently and compliantly.

 
Some key areas of network management that are addressed in the CAT include:

  1. Risk Identification
  2. There must be documented processes that outline potential threats and vulnerabilities. Risk identification activities that determine the institution’s information security risk profile, including cybersecurity risk, must be documented and evaluated on a routine basis.

  3. Network Border Protection
  4. There must be effective preventative controls in place to adequately protect the network from attack. This includes firewalls, anti-virus protection and anti-malware software.

  5. Inventory of Assets
  6. An updated inventory of technology assets including hardware, software, information, and connections should be maintained. The inventory should include where all assets are stored, transmitted and processed.

  7. Auditing of the Network
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    Financial institutions must have the ability to identify what devices are present on a network; the ability to monitor at the device level to determine the health of network components; and the extent to which their performance matches capacity plans and intra-enterprise service-level agreements (SLAs). It also includes the ability to track performance indicators such as bandwidth utilization, packet loss, latency, availability and uptime of routers, switches and other Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) enabled devices.

  9. Dual-Factor Authentication
  10. The system must have more than one form of authentication in order to access it to ensure a secure log-in.

  11. Patch Management
  12. An effective patch management program is a must in today’s environment. All software applications require updates from vendors to remedy weaknesses. Updates should be rolled out to all devices in a timely manner, updates should be tested to ensure they don’t create an issue for the institution’s applications and all patches must be well documented.

  13. Remote Control Access
  14. Remote access to a network allows employees to connect to any machine in their network via encrypted and logged sessions. It gives administrative personnel the tools to administer and manage a network, enabling increased productivity, heightened security, greater flexibility and centralized control that’s accessible from anywhere they have an Internet connection. While this is beneficial, it must be monitored and protected from outside attacks.

  15. Reporting
  16. Financial institutions must be able to generate and provide easily configurable, customizable and accurate reports for all exams and audits in a timely manner.

Consequences of Not Being in Compliance

Failure to comply with FFIEC guidelines puts a financial institution at risk of doing poorly on exams, being written up for not following protocols and spending large amounts of time remedying violations, which can all lead to reputational damage and loss of revenue. Regardless of location and size, banks and credit unions are all subject to largely the same regulations. Governing agencies have become more stringent in their exams in the last several years and have been liberal in issuing citations to community financial institutions that have lapses or are not meeting regulations.

Automating Network Management

To help ensure community financial institutions operate more efficiently, securely and compliantly, IT professionals are implementing network management systems designed specifically for financial institutions and their compliance needs. These systems help to further decrease costs, increase performance, and improve their compliance posture by automating the myriad of tasks associated with exams and regulatory requirements. Systems with built-in automated intelligence eliminate the need for IT staff to directly administer challenging and time-consuming tasks such as patch management, anti-malware updates, and reporting.

Automating IT activities helps ease the burden of maintaining network compliance. Remember, while compliance requirements can be cumbersome and time-consuming, these standards are in place to ensure that sensitive, financial data is protected from the malicious threats and attackers who seek to exploit it.