Charles Potts: Integrating cybersecurity

By Charles Potts, ICBA

Cybersecurity is an integral part of a community bank’s strategic and innovation initiatives. Moving it from the department of “no” to the department of “how can we do this better?” is a necessary cultural shift for community banks that will serve them well in today’s environment. Banks have a clear demand from their customers for more digital offerings and an opportunity to increase efficiencies, operate more effectively and grow their revenue in the wake of COVID-19. Therefore, it is incumbent upon community banks to incorporate all aspects of their cybersecurity practices into their strategic thinking.

As banks are revisiting their strategic plans and budgeting for the future, cybersecurity needs a seat at the table. Say, for example, your community bank decides to automate its credit card lending from end to end. As you discuss the project, speak not only with your product and lending people but also with your risk, compliance and cybersecurity staff. With year-end planning upon us, now is an excellent time to make sure your cybersecurity people’s voices are heard.

Further, as community banks embrace digital transformation, there’s an opportunity for bankers to talk to their customers and marketplace about what they’re doing from a cybersecurity perspective. By communicating the benefits of a safe, well-monitored and well-managed set of solutions, you create an accommodating and comfortable experience for your customers and prospects. When community banks integrate cybersecurity practices and awareness with their digital transformation initiatives, they have an opportunity to highlight and differentiate what they’re doing in the marketplace.

A cultural shift

Bankers have often thought of cybersecurity as a protective wall around their financial institutions. On the one hand, they considered the inbound activity they were trying to prevent and protect themselves from. On the other hand, they looked inside at their practices to ensure their employees and systems behaved properly. But in today’s landscape, cybersecurity is no longer separate from other areas of the bank. It is a strategic process integrated into all functions and aspects of the organization. It is also a cultural shift that requires ongoing and intentional engagement.

To that end, ICBA offers timely and targeted resources on cybersecurity. Members can find these resources, including guides on cyber and data security, on the solutions page of the ICBA website. There’s also a cybersecurity toolkit designed to take the guesswork out of risk management, making it an ideal resource for community bank cybersecurity practitioners. In addition, ICBA’s Community Bank University offers robust educational resources to help community banks create knowledgeable subject matter experts and practitioners.

Make the most of what the ICBA has to offer by taking advantage of these helpful resources.

Charles Potts ( is ICBA’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer