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With fraud prevention a top priority for credit unions, the 9th Annual Technology Workshop, themed “Cybersecurity – A Shared Responsibility,” had the highest workshop attendance to date.  Over 100 credit union professionals traveled to Freeport, ME to hear the latest tips and advice from featured presenters and resident Synergent staff experts.

The catchphrase, “If you see something, say something,” was reinforced at the event, sponsored by Synergent, your League’s service subsidiary. With the seemingly endless news of cyberattacks, skimming, and data breaches, the workshop focused on the latest cybersecurity tools and techniques for credit unions, red flags that their staff can be on the lookout for, and provided attendees with an update on Episys and other technology leaders in the credit union industry.

Synergent CEO John Murphy welcomed attendees to the workshop at the Harraseeket Inn on October 14. He shared with attendees that while Freeport is well-known as being home to LL Bean, one of the most profitable and service oriented retailers in the country, it also is home to Midcoast FCU and Atlantic FCU.

“When you come to Freeport, no matter what exit you take, there will be a credit union greeting you,” shared Murphy.

Murphy went on to explain that the Technology Workshop is strategically held in October as a follow-up to the annual Symitar Educational Conference (SEC) in San Diego. The SEC brings together 800 to 1,000 Episys users from across the country, while the Technology Workshop focuses on connecting with Synergent users. Of the Technology Workshop, John Murphy stressed that, “One of the most important segments is the open forum where you have an opportunity to ask questions and convey anything you want to convey.”

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Ben Jordan, Vice President of Technology Services, (above) reminded attendees that October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. He provided a retrospective on the breaches, compromises and hacks that occurred in 2016, which included organizations such as Yahoo, the United States Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, Verizon, and Wendy’s.

“The threat of massive cyberattack is the most urgent concern confronting the nation’s information and technology infrastructure,” stated Jordan.

Keynote Speaker and proud credit union member Theresa Payton, President/Owner of Fortalice LLC., former White House CIO, renowned cybersecurity authority, and expert on identity theft, addressed attendees with her presentation “Combatting Cybercrime in the Financial Services Industry.” She discussed how and why the financial services industry’s heavy investment in cybersecurity has not eliminated attacks and breaches.

“Security is fundamentally broken. We don’t design for the human psyche,” stated Payton. She explained that with today’s technology being open by design, it is open to be hacked. Typically, people do not use strong enough passwords, feel they do not access sensitive data, or use unsafe workarounds outside of the protected company network.

“I can’t protect data I can’t see,” said Payton.

Payton also provided three pieces of homework to attendees to take back to their credit unions:

  1. Equalize. Ask your teams, “Is there anything we do that gets in the way of doing your job?” Find out if there are processes not designed for the human psyche and find ways to make them more secure and more user friendly. Security and innovation must be equals.
  2. Segment. Identify your credit union’s top two critical assets. Implement segmented systems to further protect sensitive data. “Segment it to save it.”
  3. Kill-Switch. Practice a digital disaster plan. In the event of a breach, be prepared to have a kill-switch safety-net that protects credit union assets while preserving as much functionality as possible.

“Be sure you are asking the tough questions,” advised Payton.

Payton then joined panelists Matt Rice, CTO and Partner at Burgess Technology Services; Mike Smith, Synergent Information Security Officer; and Rebekah Higgins, Vice President of Payment Services for Synergent for a spirited discussion on cybersecurity. Attendees asked questions in areas that included NCUA exams, how to protect against ransomware, the safety of cloud data and biometrics, card fraud, and even the safety concerns around the popular virtual reality game Pokémon Go.

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Jim Wilcox, Director of Client Solutions Consulting from Fiserv Card Services, presented CardValet, which is one of the latest products available to credit unions to combat fraud. This mobile app provides members the ability to turn cards on or off from any mobile device, to access accounts anytime, and to control spending on multiple cards by setting custom limits.