How to Talk to Your Members about Cybersecurity

June 13, 2018 Co-op Solutions

CO-OP’s Chief Information Security Officer Paul Love provides best practices for involving your members in the safeguarding of their information.

This article previously appeared on CUInsight

Cybercrime incidents are at an all-time high. According to Accenture, last year the average U.S. business dealt with over 130 instances of successful data breaches. This is an alarmingly high number that will only rise as hacking, cyberattacks and fraud have become more sophisticated. Now hackers often use cyberattacks on a single account to penetrate the broader network and commit large scale fraud, like what happened with the recent cyberattacks in Mexico.

Which is why cybersecurity and fraud mitigation should be top priorities for credit unions. In addition to having in place reliable cybersecurity solutions and experts whom know how to implement them, involving your members in the fight against cybercrime is critical to your strategy. Historically, this has been a challenge for credit unions, as it is not always easy to talk to your members about safeguarding their own data.

Here are a few tips for discussing good cybersecurity practices with your members.

1) Make it Easy for Them

Members want security, but they also insist on convenience. Undoubtedly your members are thoughtful about the safety of their sensitive data but it can be challenging to translate that concern into action. Think about how many logins you have for different websites or applications; it can be tempting to reuse the same password or choose something that is easy to remember. This is all too common in financial services and it makes members an easy target for hackers.

Having security tips and best practices easily available to your members, both within the branch and on your website, is an efficient way to encourage your members to be proactive about safeguarding their data. Additionally, if a breach is discovered, be sure to react quickly and communicate the steps your credit union has taken and what your members should also do to protect their information.

Caption: Jean Chatzky interviews CO-OP CISO Paul love in the Studio at THINK 18 on best practices for talking to credit union members about cybersecurity.

2) Make Cybersecurity Feel Tangible

Historically, cybersecurity experts have not done a great job of making cybersecurity feel tangible for our members. We take for granted that while many of our members are technically savvy, they often speak a different language when it comes to understanding cybersecurity.

Using language and analogies that make cybersecurity feel relatable is the best approach when talking to your members. For instance, if you asked your members whether they would willingly provide personal information or account access to someone who approached them on the street, almost all would say no – even if the person in question said they were collecting on behalf of the IRS. Yet, countless people fall victim to this exact scam when it happens online. Relating cybercrime to the physical world using scenarios like this one is the fastest way to help make cybersecurity feel more approachable and easy to understand.

3) Emphasize the Community

One of our biggest strengths as credit unions is the sense of community we provide to our members. Helping your members understand their role in safeguarding not only their data but also the data of their fellow members can inspire them to be more proactive. It also reinforces your credit union’s commitment to championing responsible data usage within the community.

In the age of increasing cybercrime, it is up to credit unions to encourage members to take shared responsibility for their data. Transparency and relatable language are your best tools in this effort, as well as an understanding that cybersecurity is an iterative and evolving challenge.


Cybersecurity and fraud often go hand-in-hand which is why CO-OP has made them top priorities through a layered fraud mitigation strategy for credit unions. CO-OP just announced our largest technology initiative, COOPER, which is a data-driven fraud prevention and detection platform that will soon introduce machine learning and eventually AI. Learn more about how CO-OP can partner with you to enable the best fraud mitigation solutions and tactics to keep fraud at a minimum.

And join us at our next Fraudbuzz webinar on Thursday, June 21, where we will discuss best practices for combating fraud at your credit union.

The original article How to Talk to Your Members about Cybersecurity can be found on Insight Vault.

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