Chris Furlow

Chris Furlow
TBA President & CEO

Ike and cybersecurity leadership

The lazy days of summer are behind us and October blows in with several important occasions to mark. Government agencies and businesses in Texas and across the nation recognize October as Cybersecurity Month. This issue of Texas Banking is appropriately dedicated to cybersecurity as digital threats continue to be a primary concern for our bank executives as well as our state and federal regulators.

October also brings the birthday of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who erudite students of history will note was born in Denison, Texas, in 1890 and was later stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio as a young Army officer.

What do cybersecurity and Ike have to do with one another?

When most people think about cybersecurity, they think about technology. But the human element remains the most significant challenge we face when it comes to cyber vulnerabilities. Generally, phishing and other social engineering methods continue to be among the most successful lines of attack for cyber criminals.

We cannot ease up in the education of our employees and our customers as cyber criminals deploy new forms of malware or adjust their tactics. Our institutions, regardless of size, must work to go beyond compliance and build more cyber mature and resilient enterprises.

This speaks to the cyber culture within our banks. Culture is “a leadership thing.” It certainly applies to bank operations and how you serve your customers and employees. But it is also critical to your cybersecurity posture.

This is where President Eisenhower comes in. Recalling his military experience in a 1957 speech, the former five-star general said: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” He stressed that the plans themselves could not account for every contingency, but the process of planning and engaging team members for preparedness makes organizations better at adapting to the circumstances that emergencies produce. He said that leaders must be “steeped in the character of the problem” that one may be called upon to solve. And that is what underpins effective culture.

The most effective leaders on cyber don’t simply delegate the issue to IT staff or a service provider. They recognize and engage with leaders across the enterprise — technical and non-technical alike — to understand how an attack or breach impacts all bank operations, your employees, regulatory relationships and, most importantly, bank customers. They work to address vulnerabilities as technology evolves in an increasingly fintech-driven marketplace. They prioritize and set budgets to meet their specific needs. And they are prepared to respond quickly when — not if — a cyber incident occurs.

The good news is that you do not have to be a technology whiz to be an effective leader of a healthy cybersecurity culture. As you will see in this issue, TBA has worked hard to create new and innovative programs, tools and services to help support our members in combating cyber risk. We continue to collaborate with our regulators, industry colleagues and partners to highlight a range of available resources. Check out the pages of this issue to learn more. And never hesitate to call when we can be of assistance. Texas banks have committed millions of dollars in resources to protect their customers. Thanks, too, for all you do to strengthen your bank’s cyber culture. Ike would be proud.