YAKIMA, Wash. — Internet access is, for most, just part of the cost of doing business today. But that doesn't mean the cost has to include providing and maintaining Internet-enabled devices.

While not a new concept, Solarity Credit Union is among a small, but growing number of credit unions embracing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement.

"We first approached the concept of BYOD a few years ago when iPads and smartphones become prevalent among the management staff," said Solarity CU's Vice President of Information Technology Michelle Hatton. "We saw the benefit of providing Internet access to our staff, but not having to provide or maintain the device."

In recent years, BYOD and Mobile Device Management (MDM) have seen greater adoption rates, but in other industries. Horsetail Technologies Principal Chris Sachse classifies these mediums as "moderately popular "in the financial services arena.

"Credit unions are naturally more conservative and often do not have wide spread usage of mobile devices among the entire staff," said Sachse. "We are seeing a shift in popularity and as more credit unions offer a mobile experience to their members they are in turn offering a similar experience for their employees."

The Baltimore-based Horsetail Technologies provides managed IT services, solution integration and cloud management. Currently, five of the firm's credit union clients have a BYOD or MDM platform.

"The leading pros are the ability to support a broader range of devices and to create a mobile, secure workforce," said Sachse. "This gives credit unions the ability to have a staff that is working on the go with devices that make them comfortable, increasing efficiency and productivity."

The Solarity CU Approach

In May 2015, the $576 million Solarity CU, supporting 130 employees, launched its BYOD platform. In the first month, 19 employees requested access to the BYOD network, Hatton related.

"Participation is voluntary, but we actively encouraged BYOD. Our board members were gifted iPads and the board packets were converted to digital copy only," said Hatton. "We cancelled all our corporate cell phones and started a flat rate reimbursement for your personal cell phone use if your job position required the use of a cell phone."

The BYOD network, which is completely isolated from any internal resources, is run through Solarity CU's wireless access point — Cisco-Meraki devices with a Cloud Controller.

"The only BYOD requirement is approval from your manager to gain initial access," said Hatton who added that iPads are the most frequently used accessing device. "Updates are managed by the vendor, and any access changes are made by our internal technology team."

Hatton explained that the BYOD platform was researched, designed and implemented internally. Before rolling out the service, a management team reviewed how other organizations approached BYOD, read best-practice articles and developed a Mobile Security Policy that addresses all aspects of security relating to personal and corporate owned mobile devices.

To date, the CU has not encountered any security breaches. "We are monitoring bandwidth usage and contracting with a third party for a special network security audit directed at all wireless networks and policies," said Hatton.

Sachse conceded that the leading "con" for BYOD is security concerns. "MDM improves the control significantly, but credit unions need to be careful who gets access to what and when," he said. "The good news is that leading MDM software has the ability to provide granular control over what users get what access to which systems and when."

For an average credit union, launching a BYOD network takes roughly 30 days, Sachse said, explaining that the process includes a planning phase to develop policies, followed by a pilot, then full-scale release and training.

"Depending on the solution, visibility will be granted to the administrators. The solution, in conjunction with other security monitoring services, will provide alerts to potential threats," he said. "Those alerts should then be treated and classified as incidents and the credit union should follow its incident response plan to address and document the issue resolution."

In the coming months, Hatton expects more employees to opt-in to the CU's BYOD platform because it streamlines respective workflows.

"BYOD gives employees the option to access this website via their own devices, while in meetings, to take notes, collaborate on tasks, make requests of vendors or document the entire meeting," said Hatton. "It has given employees the ability to be mobile, flexible and more efficient."

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the credit union industry

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.