On November 29, the Questa Credit Union began sharing information on social media to inform members about a network outage, impacting account access.
According to statements posted on employee Patricia Garcia’s social media pages, the bank says the cloud-based provider experienced an outage which impacted customers’ ability to access their accounts and also limiting staff members’ ability to make deposits and view accounts.
Upon further investigation, it was determined the third-party vendor had fallen victim to a ransomware attack on their server. The attack took 60 credit unions offline, nationwide.
Our editor spoke with Marshall Romero, industry manager for the New Mexico Credit Union Division, to ask tough questions about the attack and how our Questa Credit Union handled the situation. Below is a transcript of the conversation:
EDITOR: Can you tell us if ransomware attacks are common in local banking?
ROMERO: Ransomware attacks are becoming more and more prevalent in the digital world we’re living in. More recently, Lovelace Hospital fell victim to this. Unfortunately, it’s a reality and companies, like the third party vendor the credit union uses, are working to take steps to increase security.
EDITOR: Tell us about how this could impact members of the local credit union?
ROMERO: Credit unions are the only not-for-profit financial entities working to serve local communities. They offer special benefits to the members, including low interest rates, free checking and saving accounts. The list goes on and on. Members also have insurance and safety nets to ensure their funds should they be compromised, which in this case, to the best of my knowledge, they were not.
EDITOR: Can you tell us what QCU did wrong in this situation?
ROMERO: Absolutely nothing. There were 60 credit union banks impacted by this third-party vendor and there is nothing that the Questa Credit Union could’ve done to prevent it. In fact, they did a lot to ensure they could continue to serve members during the outage, which was notable.
EDITOR: Is there anything the QCU could have done better?
ROMERO: No. They communicated the status with the media, and they kept helping members on an individual basis through their workaround processes. This type of situation could have closed shop for days, but they didn’t.
During the network outage, QCU continued to update members and Questa del Rio News with status reports. They apprised us of work-around systems that were built to continue to serve customers throughout the outage, including access to accounts and the waiving of late fees for overdrawn accounts.