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Is Your Credit Union’s Email System Secure? Assessing the Need for Enhanced Email Encryption

secure email

In an era dominated by digital transactions and online financial services, the security of communication channels is of paramount importance, especially for credit unions dealing with sensitive financial information. While email is a ubiquitous communication tool, using plain text email in the realm of banking poses significant risks to security and confidentiality. This blog aims to shed light on the vulnerabilities associated with unencrypted emails in the financial sector and emphasizes the need for enhanced email encryption to ensure the protection of confidential customer information.

The Risks of Plain Text Email in Banking

plain email

Plain text emails, despite their convenience, lack the necessary layers of security required for safeguarding sensitive financial data. In the context of credit unions, where confidential information such as account details, transactions, and personal identifiers are exchanged, relying on unencrypted emails exposes both the institution and its customers to potential threats. Here are some key risks associated with using plain text email in banking

  • Data Interception:

    Starting the day by strategically organizing the queue of inquiries is crucial. Prioritizing responses and planning the day accordingly ensures optimal efficiency in managing high email volumes.

  • Privacy Concerns: Email servers, especially those not equipped with robust security measures, may pose privacy risks, potentially leading to the compromise of customer data.
  • Regulatory Compliance: The financial sector is subject to strict regulatory standards concerning data protection and privacy. Using unencrypted emails might lead to non-compliance with these regulations, attracting legal repercussions.
  • Phishing Attacks: Credit union customers may become targets of phishing attacks if sensitive information is exchanged via unsecured email channels, leading to identity theft and financial fraud.

iService: A Secure Messaging Solution for Credit Unions

Recognizing the critical need for secure communication in the financial sector, iService offers a comprehensive solution that goes beyond traditional email. By integrating iService into the online banking system for messaging, credit unions can enhance the security of customer communications and mitigate the risks associated with plain text email.

  • Key Features of iService for Credit Unions:

    1. Integration with Online Banking: iService seamlessly integrates with the online banking system, allowing customers to submit questions securely from within the portal. This eliminates the need for conventional email communication for confidential queries.
    2. Ticket Creation Without Email: Questions submitted through the portal create tickets directly in iService, bypassing email altogether. This ensures that sensitive information stays within the secure database environment.
    3. Secure Response Mechanism: iService acknowledges the receipt of customer questions but sends acknowledgments to their email without revealing the question body. Agents can provide secure responses by clicking a single button, delivering answers directly to the customer’s portal inbox.
    4. Differentiated User Interface: iService enhances security by presenting a different user interface to agents for portal-generated questions. By adding a tag to the question, agents can identify portal-originated queries and respond securely.
    5. Secure Communication Portals: In addition to online banking integration, iService offers support portals for customers not using the online banking system. This ensures a separate and secure communication channel for all customers, including those who may not be part of the online banking community.

Leveraging the Desert Schools Case Study

The success story of Desert Schools, a credit union that implemented iService, serves as a compelling case study. By adopting iService’s secure messaging solution, Desert Schools transformed its customer communication strategy, ensuring data security and compliance with industry regulations. The case study underscores the effectiveness of iService in providing a secure and efficient alternative to traditional email communication in the financial sector.

Industry Perspective on Secure Messaging:

secure message

Cyberattacks, according to Jerome Powell, are one of the most serious threats to the world financial system. Credit union cybersecurity implies that the effort necessary to secure member data is expanding and becoming more difficult. Implementing solutions like iService ensures that sensitive financial information remains protected, fostering trust and compliance. NCUA issued a cybersecurity advisory, citing two notifications from the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA connected to recent geopolitical events, particularly those involving Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks.  According to the NCUA’s notice, credit unions of all sizes should adopt a heightened level of awareness, perform proactive danger hunting, analyze the two CISA notifications, and execute relevant recommendations.

Emphasizing the Need for Enhanced Email Encryption


To address these risks effectively, credit unions must prioritize the implementation of enhanced email encryption solutions. Unlike plain text emails, encrypted communication ensures that sensitive information remains secure throughout its journey. Encryption transforms the content of emails into unreadable code, making it virtually impossible for unauthorized entities to decipher the information.

Moreover, enhanced email encryption provides credit unions with a proactive approach to cybersecurity, aligning with industry best practices and regulatory requirements. It not only safeguards customer data but also fortifies the institution’s reputation as a trusted financial service provider.

In conclusion, As credit unions navigate the intricacies of digital banking and online transactions, prioritizing the security of customer communications is non-negotiable. The risks associated with plain text email in the financial sector necessitate a shift towards enhanced email encryption solutions like iService. By seamlessly integrating with online banking systems, providing secure response mechanisms, and offering differentiated user interfaces, iService emerges as a key enabler for credit unions seeking to fortify their communication channels and protect sensitive financial information. The Desert Schools case study stands as a testament to the tangible benefits of adopting iService, showcasing how secure messaging solutions can elevate the standards of security and confidentiality in credit union communications. In an era where data protection is paramount, credit unions must assess and enhance their email systems to ensure a secure and compliant customer communication environment.