Credit unions are often forgotten in the conversations around protecting financial institutions and implementing financial cyber security. As early as 2006, it was found that credit unions are even more frequently targeted than banks. Hackers target credit unions for a simple reason: they are easier to hack. There are 10 reasons why:
1. They Are Smaller - Credit unions usually do not have security staff and resource sizes on par with larger banks. This makes them an easier target than the big banks.
2. Adaption - Even as new security methods are created and implemented, new threats come on the horizon as well. Hackers can adapt quickly to new defenses and find their way around them.
3. Money - Previous attacks have seen millions of dollars lost. This alone gives hackers reason to attempt more attacks.
4. Low Visibility - Because of their low profile, credit unions are not seen as big targets. Hackers often take this to mean that the unions have less cyber security in place.
5. Element of Surprise - Attacks against credit unions are rarely publicized. The lack of publicity lulls consumers and, often credit unions, into a false sense of security.
And there are structural issues within credit unions themselves that make them vulnerable to hacks. Hackers understand these weaknesses and use them to their advantage.
6. Complexity - There are many different credit unions operations and each credit union has their own set of products, personnel, and budget. That makes it difficult to create a common security strategy among credit unions.
7. Not Looking at Internal Threats - The threat of financial cyber security isn't always from the outside. Inside personnel are frequent perpetrators of cyber crimes and are also frequent targets of social engineering and phishing scams.
8. Seeking IT-only Solutions - The IT department should probably be the start of financial cyber security efforts, but it shouldn't be the end. Every part of the organization must have the technology and training to deal with security threats,
9. Not Recognizing Weaknesses - When credit unions don't see the flaws in their security and fail to correct them accordingly, it makes it all the easier for hackers to attack.
10. Choosing Defense vs Offense - Many credit unions don't take an active stance of financial cyber security. Investing in only defensive measures almost ensures that hackers are able to exploit security flaws. A proactive credit union would organize resources to target vulnerable areas.