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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Natural disasters used to be foremost on the minds of planners at PSCU Financial Services, but post 9/11 realities have changed that focus. The major CU payments processor has launched an IT infrastructure and business continuity plan aimed at ensuring continuing service in case something big and bad happens, regardless of what it is. “We had traditionally focused on the hurricane season as a possible cause of interruption in our business. More recently, we’ve made a conscious, proactive effort to build business continuity practices that will address any kind of natural or man-made disaster,” said Dave Serlo, president of the largest of CUSOs, which serves more than 500 member-owners with 8 million credit and debit card holders and 200,000 online bill pay users. The new business continuity plan relies on geographically dispersed operations centers (Florida and Arizona) to provide IT and business unit redundancy, as well as using multiple vendors for critical services, and helping individual credit unions prepare themselves for dealing with a service-stopping crisis. “Each of our business units develops, maintains, reviews and tests these disaster recovery plans. Managers at each unit must also assess and manage risk on a day-to-day basis. Business continuation and risk issues are also considered during the development of any new product, service or project,” Serlo said. Developing the CUSO’s plan also included consulting with local government agencies responsible for emergency management programs, and third-party risk consultants have also been called in for audits. “This external feedback has helped us to validate all aspects of our plan, including communications, training, networks and telecommunications, building security and other areas,” Serlo said. Connectivity and independence are another focus of the plan. The Florida and Arizona sites each have the ability to act independently in case of a massive failure, obviating the need for a third-party site, the company said. For added IT security, components at the operations centers use data replication for critical applications, ensuring almost instantaneous recovery of critical systems in the event of failure. Multiple connectivity for all data paths, including to multiple, critical vendors, also is included, Serlo said. “Whether trouble takes the form of a power outage, damage to our facilities, or the inability of staff members to commute to work, we’re prepared to continue operations,” said Serlo, the PSCU Financial Services president. PSCU Financial Services also is offering its member credit unions access to a business continuity plan template, as well as source articles, to help them protect their own operations. It’s in the MemberConnect section of www.pscufs.com. – [email protected]

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