First Education FCU Tests Cybersecurity Competition for Members

CHEYENNE – James Yates, CEO of First Education Federal Credit Union in Cheyenne, wasn’t sure it would be fair if a credit union, with their regulatory compliance and data protection resources, joined Wyoming’s 2022 Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses.  Yet, learning that the competition restructured its judging categories and the credit union would be in a category with others that had technical advantages encouraged him to test the program out for their business members.

“We felt like we needed to lead by example.  Many of our customers could benefit from a program like this but we wanted to check it out before we recommended it,” said Yates.  In fact, First Education is also a Cybersecurity Champion for National Cybersecurity Month, the only credit union in Wyoming to sign up.

First Education’s mission, to improve the financial future of their members and community, is right in line with security, data care, and education.  Their goals in the competition were to test the program to see if they would recommend it, show that a small credit union can be just as secure as larger institutions, and to test their existing security program against standards outside the financial services industry.

“We wanted to provide our members with the assurance that their information is safe with us and that we are protecting it as well as anyone can,” said Yates.  Now, First Education has visible proof.  Yates took the extra step in the competition to gain usage of the Made Safe in Wyoming™ logo and employees now have it in their signature line.

Because Yates observed that there are many institutions that feel cybersecurity is too daunting he wanted to send a message to his members that it isn’t as hard as they think.  Cybersecurity is about managing identity and data and Yates said, “First Education participated in the CyberWyoming program because cybersecurity is key to protecting what is valuable to our members, information.”

During the competition, First Education met 100% of their own security goals and completed 100% of risk recommendations, the largest of which was a full inventory and security policy review. 

The 2022 Competition was supported by a grant from Microsoft and the Department of Workforce Services and due to CyberWyoming’s 2022 members and sponsors: Capitol Communications Inc., Campbell County Health, Cheyenne State Bank, CPU (Computer Professionals Unlimited), DigeTekS LLC, EvnTec, Factory IT, First Federal Bank & Trust, First Interstate Bank, Gannett Peak Technical Services, HUB International, IECA, K2 Technologies, Manufacturing Works, PDS, Sweetwater Technology Services, and TEAM.  For more information about the 2023 Wyoming Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses visit https://cyberwyoming.org/competition.

The competition was developed by CyberWyoming in 2018 to encourage Wyoming small businesses to meet best practices in cybersecurity through a home grown program called Made Safe in Wyoming™.  The competition has gained national and international attention being the only of its kind and, in February of 2022, won a Gula Tech Foundation Award to expand in 2023. CyberWyoming recently announced this expansion and is looking for local economic development agencies who want to house a Cybersecurity Business Counselor. 

“We wanted to encourage traditional economic development agencies to incorporate security and information protection into their member offerings, so we used the Gula Tech Grant to incentivize them to train a staff member with our program,” said Laura Baker, Executive Director of CyberWyoming.

Baker said the goal of the program expansion is to raise business community awareness by installing local cybersecurity business counselors that can help with security planning and programs, then encourage connection with other companies and organizations locally to fill the holes.

Those economic development agencies interested in expanding their services with the Made Safe/Competition Program should contact Baker at info@cyberwyoming.org or 307.314.2188. About First Education Federal Credit Union: First Education is a community-based credit union that offers checking and savings accounts, certificates, wealth management services, and a suite of loan services. First Education has made the most of its critical infrastructure status and association memberships and uses a variety of security services offered by national organizations such as FS-ISAC (Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center), the Department of Homeland Security, and the NCU-ISAO (National Credit Union Information Sharing and Analysis Organization). First Education also has a long-standing relationship with a managed service provider helping to ensure GLBA (Gramm Leach Bliley Act) compliance.  For more information:  https://firstedfcu.com/

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