Networking Beyond Technology

By Dennis Klemenz, CIO & VP, Connex Credit Union And Mohammad Usman, Manager of Infrastructure, Connex Credit Union

Dennis Klemenz, CIO & VP, Connex Credit Union

Banking is a business where information is shared continuously and a delay of a few seconds can elicit significant financial implications. Not only is instant access to data required, but security, privacy, and protection of core banking technology place networking at the heart of its operations and commercial viability. Further, the prevalence of online and mobile banking demands that banking networks remain online with virtually no downtime. Therefore, financial organizations need to adopt a highly virtualized, resilient, and flexible infrastructure to increase network reliability to stay competitive.

Networking Security Concerns

When it comes to networking in the financial industry, the biggest risks we are trying to mitigate are network downtime and network security. The number one priority is protecting customers’ financial and personal information. At Connex Credit Union, we have implemented 4G wireless networking, along with fiber connections to ensure connectivity even at our remote branches. In case of a wired network failure, the 4G network serves as a backup facility to restore connectivity to our main data center.

"Promoting awareness and diligence among staff helps protect the network from any virus, malware, or malicious code"

Web browser based attacks are one of the most common security threats and can be thwarted by encrypting the communication between a user’s browser and internal servers. Routing all transactions through a multiple-systems firewall plays a significant role in preventing any attacks from entering these databases. For example, the email security systems we have in place at Connex detect viruses before the malicious emails even reach our employees’ inbox.

Despite a commitment to the highest level of account and financial security, user error can still incur a security breach. Members or staff may unknowingly download and execute suspicious email attachments. We employ a proactive approach at Connex, continually notifying our staff of new threats and providing updated instructions on how to properly manage suspicious content. Quarterly meetings are held to educate employees about cybersecurity threats and current trends in the industry and our help desk acts as the main touch point for emergencies. Promoting awareness and diligence among staff helps protect the network from any virus, malware, or malicious code.

Different Approach toward Banking

Networking is not limited to technology. Building trusted relationships with customers boosts future business endeavors and potential prospects. Banks need to help customers reduce their superfluous expenses and save money, and new technological trends offer a unique opportunity to assist them in achieving their financial goals. As our members succeed, so will our credit union. At Connex, we help our members every day by offering them products and promotions designed to meet their financial needs.

Mohammad Usman, Manager of Infrastructure, Connex Credit Union

To provide a personalized experience to our members, we have implemented personal teller machines that have a video module and are able to function as automated and interactive teller machines. Any member can access the teller machine and connect to one of the tellers located in our headquarters via a video program like Skype. The remote tellers can perform nearly any financial transactions including opening accounts, managing loans or assisting with any query a member may have.

Technology helps us readily assist our members with budgeting, tracking their finances and evaluating their credit scores. Connex has made significant investments in a data warehouse and in data analytics to track the success of our mission to improve the financial lives of each individual member. We are in the process of extending these analytics to monitor and analyze financial performance. Ultimately, we are working towards providing proactive alerts and automated advice to help members improve their financial standing at their own pace.

Furthermore, we are continually implementing new hardware to enhance the infrastructure required for our next-gen mobile and online banking platforms, offering customers the convenience and portability of mobile applications.

Question Every Decision

When considering new technology, it’s sometimes easy to be influenced by others and make hasty decisions. However, IT professionals must consider the reason behind every one of their actions. Are you implementing a new product just because it saves you money or ensures you can tout the latest and greatest technology? To avoid wasting resources, the feasibility of a project from a business aspect and its impact on members must be taken into consideration. At Connex, we only focus on projects that advance our company and provide significant value to our members. When developing a project, if none of our team can articulate a reason or logic behind it at any point – it is scrapped immediately.

Importance of the Right Mindset

As an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven and Quinnipiac University I have been afforded firsthand insights into the minds of students and working professionals. Few students understand the importance of acquiring technical skills to complement their education. Their motivation relies solely on their desire to earn a college degree. Many students have been disillusioned with the belief that all it takes to succeed in the IT industry is a qualification or degree. The reality is that the IT industry values talent and skill above degrees. There is a need to cultivate a sense of intellectual curiosity, the desire to understand and find solutions to problems. Students and young professionals are able to envision their destination but they are not aware of the journey required to reach that goal. The only way to speed up the journey is to research, continually read, grow, and most importantly, get yourself out of your comfort zone.

IT Infrastructure Monitoring Tools Special