The OGO Blog

What Are Credit Union Telecommunications Regulations and Requirements?

Credit union telecom ongoing operations

Members trust their credit unions with an enormous amount of sensitive personal and financial data. Accordingly, credit unions are careful with network security and encryption. So, what does this mean for credit union telecommunications?

There are two major considerations for any credit union telecommunication system. Both have to do with how you encrypt sensitive member data. By paying close attention to these two areas, you’ll be sure to protect your members from breaches in network security. As an added bonus, you’ll easily meet NCUA telecommunications regulations and requirements.

Protecting Personally-Identifiable Information

Personally-Identifiable Information, or PII, includes the massive amount of member data that credit unions produce and record every day. Anything from account statements, specific transactions, loan history, home addresses, and social security numbers fit under the PII umbrella.

Credit unions must safeguard this PII against malware, hackers, and other network threats. Negligent or insufficient encryption practices lead to issues like the Equifax data breach in 2017. Rules and regulations surrounding credit union telecommunications security are aligned toward preventing preventable breaches of precisely that nature.

In many ways—and especially in the age of Big Data and analytics—sensitive member data is more valuable than a credit union’s actual assets. Here’s how you can ensure the continued safety and privacy of your members.

Application-Based Encryption

Credit unions use many different tools for moving and sharing data internally. For example, Dropbox, SharePoint, and OneDrive all help credit unions move, share, and store information.

The above applications, along with many others, use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to maintain security. That means that these programs come with a layer of secure encryption written into them.

Encryption that is native to specific applications is great, but it has drawbacks. Both drawbacks are related to applications that don’t come with native encryption features.

1.    Not all applications encrypt information

It’s imperative that credit unions understand which of their applications do and don’t encrypt data. If, for example, a credit union were to rely on AOL Instant Messenger (RIP) to move and share data, they would be in a world of hurt.

Because not all apps feature native encryption, credit union telecommunications security can be tricky to figure out. Credit unions should review telecommunications security for all the apps they use and identify any potential security concerns.

2.    Encrypting MPLS circuits

For any apps that don’t feature native encryption, credit unions must find other ways to encrypt their data. The most common method of achieving proper encryption is to secure the entire MPLS circuit.

Encrypting an entire credit union telecommunications network means employees can transmit sensitive data and PII without worry. However, it may also hinder network performance.

Encrypted Networks

When your necessary applications don’t have native encryption, but they still transmit sensitive data, you need to encrypt your network—or at least, a portion of it.

When encrypting an MPLS circuit, you can safely move and share member data with PII. You can do this either by encrypting the entire MPLS circuit or by establishing an encrypted VPN network.

The largest security factor with encrypted MPLS circuits is at the provider level. Credit union telecommunications providers don’t all follow the same encryption methods. Some provide tighter security than others.

What this means is that each credit union—and perhaps each branch—needs to consult with an information security officer or other qualified expert to understand exactly what your credit union’s telecommunications provider is actually providing.

Final Thoughts

The primary concern for credit union telecommunications regulations is security. Keeping your member data secure will safeguard your members and keep you in good graces with the NCUA.

First, you have to know what kind of data you’re sharing. Then, you should know if you’re transmitting it on an encrypted platform. Lastly, you should learn about the encryption capabilities of your entire MPLS circuit.

For more helpful information about credit union telecommunications systems, check out the blogs below!

Is Your Credit Union Telecom Strategy Outdated?

Insider’s Guide To Credit Union Managed Telecom