As an IT manager or CIO of a community bank, how familiar are you with the ongoing efforts of keeping your bank secure? You need to understand the expertise that is needed for this maintenance and whether your in-house staff is equipped to handle the job efficiently. You must also understand how to establish continuous maintenance and what steps are needed to do it.
So, what is needed in this ongoing IT security effort? Will you be able to handle it all in-house or should you outsource some or all of it to maintain your bank’s security? Should you look at an experienced managed service provider to help you maintain your IT and security and allow you to focus on other important things for your business? These are some of the questions that an IT manager or CIO of a community bank must be prepared to answer. Below we will discuss critical security elements that will be instrumental in answering these questions.
Establishing an IT Security Maintenance Program
Establishing an ongoing IT security maintenance program for your bank entails four steps to make sure your bank and your customers are secure. First, you must have a robust risk assessment methodology in place. Second, access controls must be verified for all user types. Third, you must categorize your data to ensure that it is only seen by those who are authorized to see it. And fourth, the rights, responsibilities and duties of your personnel need to be clearly specified
Risk Assessment Methodology
A robust risk assessment methodology should identify specific risk categories, classify items by the level of risk they cause your bank or customers and outline how those risks should be mitigated.
A successful risk assessment methodology should establish parameters around what constitutes acceptable risk levels so items can be reliably and accurately categorized. The assessment should also identify roles and responsibilities, inventory and internal controls, and policies and procedures associated with risk mitigation.
Community banks often give the responsibility of user access privileges to their IT person or staff. However, they may not necessarily understand who needs to have particular levels of access. The IT staff needs to look at all users’ access and ensure access privileges are given on a must-have basis. Additionally, users’ access rights need to be reviewed promptly when a user’s roles and responsibilities change, or the user leaves the organization.
Classification and Security of the Data
The data within your community bank needs to be classified and prioritized to ensure that only those who are supposed to access and use the data can do so. You may have data that is considered high risk, or data that is protected, for example, by federal legislation. You will also have confidential data, such as customer information. Finally, you will have public information that is free to be distributed to anyone. This classification is key to protecting the data within your organization.
Rights, Responsibilities, and Duties of your Personnel
Your institution needs to specify all of the rights, responsibilities and duties of your personnel. Who makes the decisions, and who makes the actual changes? What happens when someone leaves the company? Is there training available to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and duties? This information needs to be specified and spelled out clearly so there are no questions on these responsibilities.
You must decide whether you can handle the ongoing security efforts in-house or partner with a managed service provider.
The ongoing security maintenance of your community bank is a big job. Are you ready for it? Does your staff have sufficient experience and expertise? Is your risk assessment methodology robust enough to help you maintain your security?
A managed service provider grants access to a much larger talent pool with more experience and expertise at a lower cost than in-house talent. Managed service providers also offer monitoring of your business-critical services and applications, and can help with compliance, security, and more.
Peters & Associates is a family-owned managed service provider that knows the ins and outs of technology in the banking industry and how it relates to your community bank. We navigate the changes brought on by industry and market conditions so you don’t have to. We have excellent, proven engineers with the experience and expertise you need. Contact us to learn more about our community bank IT services.
Considering hiring an MSP for your community bank? Download the comparison guide, Outsourcing vs In-House: A Comparison for Community Banks.