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Westoba Credit Union chooses CIRA DNS Firewall

We monitored the service closely and have developed a high confidence in the ability of the CIRA DNS Firewall to deliver.

Norman Neil
Senior Director of Information & Digital Technology

Westoba is a mid-size credit union in Manitoba delivering services across 17 locations (including head office) in both large centers and rural areas. The organization started in 1963, has grown from humble roots 1963 to their current 35th place in the Canadian Credit Union Association’s largest 100 list (reference: CCUA 2020 listings).

They used to do a significant amount of IT outsourcing but as Westoba grew they found they could provide more specialized services, reduce costs, and find efficiencies by insourcing IT. Three years ago, they took these steps to bring IT services in house and in doing so the Westoba IT Team is more nimble and designed for resilience and security with a high attention to detail.

An example of this design is their remote locations are connected via cable where available and RF transceivers when not connect to cable. They understood that service providers may be sharing significant portions of the backbone network and that would not deliver real redundancy.  In short, the team took the time to understand how the internet functions and didn’t just draw it like a cloud to choose ISPs. They also know that the internet can be used as a layer of security and not just for access.

The IT Team is comprised of 10 staff, serving a large geographic area managing all aspects of technology – including cybersecurity.

As the credit union grew, it’s technological needs evolved in a landscape where IT requirements have gotten more complicated. Alongside the growth in complexity comes the global increase in cyber threats. To quote Neil, “this day in age everyone is a technology worker at some level and while they may not be splicing wire or coding applications, they are using and accessing technology for every component of their jobs.  Our cybersecurity approach needs to be designed for everyone.”

As technology has grown more complex, the associated cybersecurity risks follow. Like many organizations, they see ever increasing probing by bots, must address zero-day patching across multiple possible technologies, and have to help mitigate user risk from both generic and spear phishing.

Knowing how they approach redundancy and resiliency at all levels means they were looking for cybersecurity solutions that could deliver on the same vision.

Westoba implemented multi-layer security at every branch and their head office. They have sophisticated access control systems implemented to determine who and what can talk to each other on the network. Westoba was among the first credit unions to implement AI-based monitoring systems to detect anomalous behavior on the network. They have also deployed effective endpoint and awareness training for staff. 

The CIRA DNS Firewall implemented a layer of cybersecurity that is invisible to their end-user. It was easy to deploy across multiple locations and delivers a cost-effective layer of additional security in the face of growing complexity and threats. Truly defence in depth that is based on a cloud layer and uses unique threat intelligence.

The CIRA DNS Firewall is deployed across all locations. The fact that it is served from an any casted service well peered to Canadian networks only serves to further their approach to redundancy over something as critical as the DNS. After they turned on the CIRA-DNS Firewall, they monitored it closely for a month and saw increased block performance on threats. Its performance gave Neil a high confidence in the ability to deliver results and reduce cyberthreat risk.  

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