How real-time chat helped financial institutions respond to COVID-19

The first few weeks of COVID-19 lockdowns were chaotic for organizations in every industry. As financial institutions adapted and responded to the COVID-19 outbreak, many security leaders turned to FS-ISAC’s Connect app, the real-time chat feature powered by Mattermost, to connect with other teams and collaborate on response plans.

Earlier this year, Mattermost CTO Corey Hulen spoke with a panel of FS-ISAC members at the FS-ISAC Americas Virtual Summit about how they leveraged real-time chat during the early days of COVID-19 — and how their teams are adapting to remote work and collaboration.

The transition to remote work raised new challenges for security teams

For team members who had never worked remotely before, making the transition to remote work raised new security concerns. Security leaders found that they needed to adapt both training and tooling to ensure that their teams were able to work from home securely. In the scramble to shift to remote operations, security leaders used Connect to share how they were adapting their teams’ protocols for a new, distributed environment. 

FS-ISAC was also able to use the platform to coordinate online events and chat sessions to give members opportunities to collaborate, ask questions, and document best practices for each other. One panelist commented on the fact that being able to go back and reference those conversations in the collaboration platform was essential as the situation evolved and teams shifted from remote work being a stop-gap solution to a long-term reality.

Real-time chat helped facilitate secure global communication for small and large organizations

One of the key advantages of real-time chat during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 was the ability to share information across organizations more rapidly. One panelist, whose team is part of a global organization, remarked that being able to connect with other teams after hours from their home offices helped them respond more rapidly as the situation evolved. For smaller teams, being able to tap into a network of many different organizations gave them access to the broader scope of information about COVID-19 that they would not have had otherwise.

“That’s what FS-ISAC is all about — information sharing. We’re competitors in business but partners in the cybersecurity space, and sharing information only makes us stronger. Mattermost made it a lot easier for us to share information about COVID-19 with each other,” said one of the panelists.

Because the Intelligence Exchange platform is a secure platform exclusively for FS-ISAC members, it offered a trustworthy source of information during the uncertain times of lockdown. The platform gave teams a reliable source of information that was easily searchable and secure. “There’s a difference in having a document available with one click that you know is safe, because it’s a document that the community has put there, versus a link to an external site,” another panelist said.

COVID has changed how financial institutions plan for crises — and remote work policies

As is the case for many industries, COVID-19 has changed the way financial services organizations are thinking about the future of work. Panelists noted that in the past, business continuity plans were often based on a portion of employees being out of office rather than the vast majority. Future cybersecurity and continuity planning takes an all-hazard approach that will allow their teams to better prepare for future black swan events when they occur.

Teams have also reevaluated long-term policies around remote work as a result of COVID-19. Both panelists commented on the fact that their teams had adapted remarkably well to remote work, and the experience has illustrated how they could effectively and securely offer employees more opportunities to work remotely in the future. “Being able to have everyone working remotely, we’re just that more robust and able to deal with anything that comes our way, which feels pretty good,” said one panelist.

Learn more about how teams are adapting to secure remote work

The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center is the only global cyber intelligence sharing community solely focused on financial services. Learn more about FS-ISAC’s Connect and how it enables security leaders to collaborate more effectively here.

To learn more about how financial institutions, government agencies and other high-security industries are using Mattermost to build more robust, secure collaboration workflows for their teams, visit our Customers page.

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Ashley Dotterweich

Ashley Dotterweich is the Head of Content at Mattermost. Previously, she ran content marketing for Heavybit Industries and Rainforest QA.

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