Potlatch No. 1 Federal Credit Union, Lewiston, Idaho, will focus on improving internal security in its 2011 budget, says Ron Broaddus, chief information officer. The $423 million asset credit union has limited IT purchases to “required spending” since 2009.
“We’re looking at security not just from the standpoint of external penetration, but to protect ourselves from ourselves,” he says. In 2011, the credit union will examine systems that prevent “data leakage” by analyzing transactions to spot patterns that indicate potential fraud.
In future years, Broaddus says artificial intelligence tools could identify potential security breaches, such as the same computer terminal being used to look up a dozen credit card numbers in a brief time period. He’s also seeking tools that restrict access to internal systems without becoming cumbersome for employees, such as biometric sign-on systems that use physical characteristics to verify authorized users’ identities.
“We can make it really hard for people to get in and out of systems, but then what they do is write the procedure on a Post-It note and put it on their monitors,” Broaddus says. “We’re trying to hit the right balance.” Continual security education for both internal users and members reinforces safe security practices.
Potlatch No. 1 Federal’s IT budget also must support strategic initiatives, including:
Potlatch No. 1 Federal hopes to virtualize about one-fifth of its servers by year end, which is possible due to a 2010 upgrade to Citrix terminal servers. Virtualization reduces costs because there are fewer servers to maintain. And it enhances disaster recovery because recovering virtualized servers is faster than recovering physical servers.
Park Community Federal Credit Union, Louisville, Ky., has similar plans for increased virtualization, according to Kyle Snider, vice president of information technology. About 70% of the $465 million asset credit union’s servers are now virtual, he estimates, and the percentage is likely to increase slightly in 2011.
“We’re constantly looking at virtualization for physical servers, which in turn saves space, drops utility bills due to climate control, and makes life easier when you have problems,” he says. The credit union also is considering removing physical PC towers and moving to thin client-based personal computing.
“We believe at this point it will save a lot of time for our technical staff, pushing updates will be painless, troubleshooting hardware will be almost nonexistent, and hardware rollouts will be minimal,” Snider says. “Will it save us money over time? That’s the question we’re still asking ourselves.”
Park Community Federal operates branches in four states. Security investments in 2011 will focus on identifying and preventing threats such as identity theft, fraud, cyber crimes, and embezzlement.
A core partnership
At $1.4 billion asset Spokane (Wash.) Teachers Credit Union, IT efforts continue to focus on achieving the benefits of refining a core system for credit unions, says Belinda Caillouet, vice president, information technology, and a CUNA Technology Council executive committee member.
Starting in late 2007, Spokane Teachers and two other credit unions partnered with Harland Financial Solutions to adapt its Phoenix core system for the credit union industry. Spokane Teachers will launch the enhanced PhoenixEFE Core system in April 2011.
Caillouet says the Harland partnership enabled the credit union to work closely with the company, enhancing PhoenixEFE Core features to serve the more commercially focused credit union market. Spokane Teachers dedicated a significant amount of staff time to reviewing requirements, testing enhancements, and consulting with Harland developers. The goal of the partnership: to support the credit union’s strategic initiatives and improve its everyday operations.
As part of the core conversion, IT will convert to a new online banking system from Q2ebanking. And it will move credit card processing from an in-house system to a program through The Members Group. As core conversion demands wane, IT will tackle productivity and efficiency projects delayed during core system development, and search for new content management software and other tools to enhance members’ online access to services and information.