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How First Western Protects Against Potential Cyberattacks

July 13, 2022

In March 2022, the Biden Administration released an Executive Order that prioritized strengthening cybersecurity and modernization of defenses and security technology for the Federal Government. In alignment with the EO, the Administration also encouraged the nation’s private sector, as the majority provider of its critical infrastructure, to ensure measures are in place to protect critical services upon which Americans rely.

The following recommended measures are listed here. Additionally, in the spirit of following these recommended measures, First Western also shares what we’re doing to fulfill our valuable role in protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure.

  • Mandate the use of multi-factor authentication on your systems to make it harder for attackers to get onto your system.
    • At First Western, our network is accessed within a digital workspace solution that delivers secure, unified access to applications, desktops, and content from anywhere on any device. Any users computing remotely may only access the First Western network by utilizing multi-factor authentication.
  • Deploy modern security tools on your computers and devices to continuously look for and mitigate threats
    • First Western utilizes Endpoint Threat Detection & Response (ETDR), security information and event monitoring and management (SIEM); and management, detection, and response (MDR) teams to provide continuous monitoring and collection of internal, external, and endpoint data so that suspicious activity can be detected and investigated rapidly. With our complement of cyber solutions, First Western limits lateral movement across our network and deploys multiple intrusion detection and protection software and related reporting and response teams
  • Check with your cybersecurity professionals to ensure that your systems are patched and protected against all known vulnerabilities and change passwords across your networks so that previously stolen credentials are useless to malicious actors.
    • First Western layers our patch management with multiple testing venues. We not only conduct an annual third-party penetration and vulnerability test, but we also employ that third party to test internal and external vulnerabilities on a quarterly basis. In addition to this practice, we have an Enhanced Vulnerability Monitoring (EVM) program and team, from another third party, that conduct quarterly scans of all IP addresses in our network (all devices, servers, printers, and other assets with an IP address) and applies patch management based upon these results. The results of both sets of vulnerability scans from the two different providers are utilized to provide optimal vulnerability mitigation and patch management health.
  • Back up your data and ensure you have offline backups beyond the reach of malicious actors;
    • First Western leverages an enterprise-level backup system that is separated from our operational network and production systems. The backed-up data is encrypted while it is in transit, and while it is at rest. Two copies of backed-up data are maintained, one copy in the primary data center, and one copy in a geographically dispersed data center.
    • First Western and our industry-leading financial institution platform and managed services provider (“MSP”) monitors backup success daily, performs test restores, tests data center failovers, application and connectivity recovery, and other business resiliency preparedness.
  • Run exercises and drill your emergency plans so that you are prepared to respond quickly to minimize the impact of any attack;
    • First Western deploys multi-scenario testing on our systems and applications as well as with our associates and locations on an annual basis and utilizes specific cyber incident and disaster emergency plans to ensure an efficient response. Our complement of ongoing testing and training for business continuity management ensured our nimble pivot to remote, sustainable, profitable pandemic operations not only when the pandemic began, but into the future and post-pandemic.
  • Encrypt your data so it cannot be used if it is stolen.
    • First Western leverages encryption technologies for both data at rest and data in transit. These encryption technologies are evaluated for strength of encryption on an annual basis. In addition, a Virtual Desktop Interface solution is in place at First Western which keeps sensitive data at rest confined to its secure data centers.
    • All traffic, all within SD-WAN, between Company locations and our data centers is encrypted via tunnels that hide data in a coded format that is unreadable by snooping parties.
    • Endpoints and servers are encrypted by the latest encryption protocol.
    • All file transfers use state-of-the-art encryption technology the same used by the U.S. government for top secret information.
    • First Western requires critical vendors and application solution providers to meet extensive, ongoing risk due diligence.
  • Educate your employees about common tactics that attackers will use over email or through websites and encourage them to report if their computers or phones have shown unusual behavior, such as unusual crashes or operating very slowly.
    • First Western takes an aggressive approach to social engineering with frequent testing of our associates and a great deal of training and communication around the risks of phishing, vishing, and other types of cyber fraud.
  • Engage proactively with your local FBI field office or CISA Regional Office to establish relationships in advance of any cyber incidents. Please encourage your IT and Security leadership to visit the websites of CISA and the FBI where they will find technical information and other useful resources.
    • First Western’s IT and Information Security leaders regularly attend industry training sponsored by leading agencies such as the Secret Service and the FBI. They are also active in information sharing groups such as FS-ISAC, both receiving and providing valuable security information to protect the Information and Communications Technology and Services (ICT) Supply Chain and ensure First Western associates know their role in protecting the cyber health of the Company as a part of this larger initiative.

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