Woman studying on laptop.

As part of #CyberSecurityAwarenessMonth, we wanted to remind credit unions of ten simple ways you can “protect the front door” by keeping your devices secure.

You may already be using some of these preventative tactics, but Cybersecurity Awareness Month is always a good time to complete an annual security review and come up with a plan to enhance what you’re doing to keep your credit union protected.

Ensuring the devices used by your employees remain secure can be an overwhelming thought, as it often feels like an impossible task to defend from every possible online threat, especially when cyberattacks are always changing.

Small businesses and financial institutions are often the targets of cyber criminals because they manage large amounts of money and may not have the resources to deploy expensive cybersecurity solutions that help protect personally identifiable information that can be used by hackers to exploit them.

Ensuring your organization and the devices used for your business are safeguarded against hackers is essential to keeping your credit union secure. Keep on reading to discover all of our tips below.

Use a Firewall

With basic online activity, data is exchanged between your device, servers and routers in cyberspace. Firewalls monitor this data to check whether it is safe or not. This is done by establishing whether the data meet the firewall rules that have been set up. Based on these rules, data is accepted, or rejected.

Windows and macOS have built-in firewalls to create a barrier between your information and the outside world. Firewalls prevent unauthorized access to your business network and alert you to any intrusion attempts.

Install Antivirus Software

Computer viruses and malware are everywhere. Antivirus software can protect your computer against unauthorized code or software that may threaten your operating system.

Antivirus software plays a major role in protecting your systems by detecting real-time threats to ensure your data is safe. After you install an antivirus program, don’t forget to use it. Run or schedule regular virus scans to keep your computer virus-free.

Use Complex Passwords or Passphrases

Using secure passwords is the most important way to prevent network intrusions. Hackers have an arsenal of tools to break short, easy passwords in minutes. The more secure your passwords are, the harder it is for a hacker to invade your system.

More secure often means longer and more complex. Passphrases have now become the new best practice instead of passwords. A passphrase is longer than a password and contains spaces in between words. A passphrase can also contain symbols and does not have to be a proper sentence or grammatically correct. The main difference between the two is that passwords do not have spaces while passphrases have spaces and are longer than any random string of letters.

Keep your Operating Systems up to Date

Always install new updates to your operating systems. Most updates include security fixes that prevent hackers from accessing and exploiting your data. Today’s web browsers are increasingly sophisticated, especially in privacy and security. Be sure to review your browser security settings in addition to installing all new updates.

Educate Employees

Cybersecurity threats continue to evolve and become more costly to businesses that suffer a data breach. One reason for that is hackers have realized it’s easier to find someone who may willingly or unwillingly open an attachment containing malicious content than to exploit technical vulnerabilities within computer software, according to Symantec.

When it comes to combatting these growing risks, most organizations continue to place more trust in technology-based solutions than in training their employees to be more aware of threats. Learn more about how you can turn your employees into a “human firewall” in the Celero Insights blog.

Back up Your Computer

If your credit union is not already backing up your hard drive, you should begin doing so immediately. Backing up your information is critical in case hackers do succeed in getting through to your system. Always be sure you can rebuild as quickly as possible after suffering any data breach or loss. An external backup hard drive can also provide enough space for your systems to operate properly.

Secure Your Connection

Routers don’t usually come with the highest security settings enabled. When setting up your network, log in to the router and set a password using a secure, encrypted setup. This prevents intruders from infiltrating your network and messing with your settings.

Use Multi-factor Authentication

Passwords are the first line of defense against computer hackers, but there is a second layer that increases protection. Many sites let you enable multi-factor authentication (MFA), which boosts security because it requires you to type in a numerical code – sent to your phone or email address – in addition to your password when logging in.

MFA helps your credit union comply with regulatory requirements. The layered security protections of MFA meets the security protocols necessary to achieve and prove compliance for most regulatory bodies. MFA is a necessary compliance tool with PCI-DSS, so if you are working towards PCI compliance, start to consider MFA.

Encrypt, Encrypt, Encrypt

Even if cybercriminals gain access to your network and files, encryption can prevent them from accessing any of that information. You can encrypt your Windows or macOS hard drive with BitLocker (Windows) or FileVault (Mac), encrypt any USB flash drive that contains sensitive information and use a VPN to encrypt web traffic.

Don’t use Unsecured Public Wi-Fi

Password-free, widely used Wi-Fi networks have no security features. As such, they’re prime targets for computer hackers. When travelling or using your devices away from your secure network, ensure that you are always using secure Wi-Fi networks.

To learn more about how Celero can assist you with all your security needs, talk to your Celero Account Executive or contact us. You can also follow Celero on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook and monitor the hashtag #CSAM2021 this month to discover resources to help keep your credit union secure.

About Celero
Celero is a leading provider of digital technology and integration solutions to credit unions and financial institutions across Canada. Clients trust Celero’s proven track record delivering innovative banking technologies, digital and payment solutions, cloud computing, outsourcing, IT and advisory services.

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