U.S. government puts credit unions on high alert

As tensions mount regarding a potential conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the U.S. government is putting credit unions on high alert for serious cyber threats targeting the financial services sector.

This political unrest puts credit unions and other components of U.S. critical infrastructure in the crosshairs of cyber threats, according to a recent alert from the National Credit Union Administration. Credit unions are targets of both Russian state-sponsored cyber threats and malicious cyber incidents aimed at public and private entities in Ukraine.

“Credit union leadership should be aware of critical cyber risks and take urgent steps to reduce the likelihood and impact of a potentially damaging compromise,” the NCUA alert advised.

It’s not just a friendly heads-up. More than simply making sure cybersecurity systems are online, the NCUA advises proactive threat hunting and increased vigilance. In addition, credit unions should reevaluate disaster-recovery plans because COVID has wreaked havoc on supply chains. Failure to prepare, NCUA said, could leave a credit union vulnerable to compromise or even “severe business degradation.” This is a critical point of preparation for many credit unions, as Digital Silence aids in addressing both operational and cybersecurity incident management for organizations both before and after an incident.

This current age of cyberthreats does not discriminate between large and small businesses — anyone can be a target appealing enough for threat actors, or simply those bent on disruption.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends a laundry list of cybersecurity measures for credit unions, with the highlights including:

  • Mitigating chances of a damaging cyber intrusion, which covers basic measures such as controlling remote access to the internal network, keeping software updated, and establishing a comprehensive vulnerability scanning and management program.
  • Identifying and addressing potential intrusions quickly, particularly if the business has any connection with Ukrainian organizations. This is critical, having an MDR or other endpoint visibility is critical in reducing the dwell time and impact of a cybersecurity incident.
  • Having a response plan in place, including designating a crisis-response team and practicing. Making sure that the plan you have in place works is critical, doing tabletop exercises help identify areas of improvement to move the needle.
  • Maximizing resilience should an incident occur, such as by testing data backup procedures or by testing backup manual operational technology in case the network goes down.

This may seem daunting, but doing the work upfront empowers companies to best face increasing cyberthreats. If you need the help of seasoned industry experts, Digital Silence specializes in testing companies’ cybersecurity, everything from evaluation against best practice to even attacking a system just like the bad guys do — and in helping companies respond to a threat actor when new threats arise every day. Our understanding of concerns specific to industries — such as credit unions — makes us an insightful and valuable partner. Contact us today.

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