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Gas and Electric Credit Union

Illinois-based Gas and Electric Credit Union isn’t among the largest
financial institutions in the US, but that hasn’t stopped it from offering
cutting edge electronic services to its members to make financial
transactions faster and more convenient.


Daryl E. Empen, President of Gas and Electric Credit Union says “ unlike
many credit unions and larger financial institutions, we don’t have multiple
branches in various communities, so we rely on technology to make it
easy for our members to do business with us. In addition to the typical
savings, debit and credit cards and mortgage lending services, we enable
our members to easily transact with us via their home computers and their
mobile phones.”


Of course, along with such conveniences comes a critical must-have:
a rock solid and highly secure network. “Offering remote and mobile
banking helps differentiate us,” notes Empen. “About 20 percent of our
membership is under 18 years of age. These are the kinds of services they
expect. They do their banking from their phone or PC. It’s paramount we
keep our network secure so they know their personal information is safe
behind our firewall.”

Gas and Electric Credit Union has relied on BAE Systems for Managed
Security Services (MSS) including firewall protection (known as Intrusion
Detection and Prevention Services, or IDPS), secure Virtual Private
Network access, and device support since 2005. In fact, BAE Systems is
the credit union’s first and only firewall protection provider. “Based on its
breadth of services, reputation, word-of-mouth and pricing, we selected
BAE Systems, and haven’t seen the need to make a change since” says
Empen.

Even as Gas and Electric has grown over the years, they’ve managed to
keep operating expenses low. They see efficiency as a key in this highly
regulated industry.

“In today’s environment, ensuring you’re compliant with all the
regulations is a challenge as it’s grown more and more complex every
year,” says Empen. “To stay competitive, we’ve got to keep our costs
down while still being able to exceed member expectations, keep
our data completely secure and be sure we’re adhering to expanding
compliance requirements.”


With a small staff tasked with serving 5,000-plus members, ensuring
security is front and center can be a challenge. Empen says “from a
network security standpoint, we don’t have an IT Manager or CIO. I
act in that capacity. So it’s critical, to us and to our members, that we
know our network is secure and being monitored 24/7 and that we’re
alerted to any potential threats or anomalies. BAE Systems provides
that critical expertise.”

It’s fair to say Empen sees BAE Systems as more of a partner than simply
a vendor of services. “A good example is when we recently acquired a
smaller credit union in the area. Having BAE Systems there with us – to
evaluate the security risks and help map out a strategy for bringing these
two facilities together – has been extremely beneficial,” he says. “Again,
we don’t have that expertise in-house, so being able to tap into the
knowledge of a global security business like BAE Systems is a true valueadd
for us.”


Empen also looks to BAE Systems for assistance when it comes to
compliance audits and reporting. “I fully expect federal and state
examiners to take a much closer look at data security in our next audit,”
Empen says. “BAE Systems provides us with very comprehensive, yet
simple reporting that tells me, our board of directors and the auditors
where we stand from a security perspective, and helps demonstrate that
we’re clearly in compliance.”

An added advantage for BAE Systems’ clients is that the company is
certified by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).
“We go through the same audit processes our clients go through, so we
have intimate knowledge of what they can expect in an audit,” says BAE
Systems’ Todd Hinesley, Territory Account Manager, Financial Services.
“That helps ensure they’re putting all the right procedures in place to be
compliant.”


It’s difficult to understate the importance of the reporting aspect. “Clear
and simple reporting is a valuable service we provide to Gas and Electric,
and virtually all of our Managed Security Services customers,” says
Hinesley. “These days, security is seen less as an IT function and more of
an operational one for just about every business, but it’s crucial for the
financial services industry.” Reports that are easily understood by the
board of directors – many of whom do not have a technical background –
are vitally important.

While the benefits BAE Systems’ Managed Security Services deliver
for Gas and Electric can be difficult to quantify, Empen is clear in his
assessment of how BAE Systems helps his business. “I sleep better at
night knowing an expert like BAE Systems is monitoring and managing
my firewall,” he says. “I don’t have that expertise. I would need to employ
at least three full-time employees who have the right level of expertise
to manage my firewall 24/7. I simply don’t have the staff to do it. At this
point, I couldn’t afford to do that either. BAE Systems does it for me, and
does it affordably and extremely well.”

Ultimately, for Empen, it comes down to expertise and reliability. “For a
credit union of our size, that lacks an internal IT department, we put a
great deal of pressure on BAE Systems to keep us safe and secure. And
that’s why for 10 years we’ve stayed with them and haven’t looked to
make a change. I’ve got great confidence in BAE Systems to keep us up
and running, and if there’s any issue they help us get that resolved no
matter what time of the day or night it is.”


Empen doesn’t underestimate the task at hand either. “The fact is,
there’s zero tolerance for error. In the 10 years BAE Systems has been
managing our firewall, they have always delivered. No incidents. That
gives me confidence. It gives our board confidence. And it means our
members can feel secure about doing their banking with us.”

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