Cherokee State Bank has a long history. Founded in 1888, this one-branch bank provides banking, lending, and wealth management services for community residents, local business, and area agribusiness. Through the use of technology, they offer the products and resources of a large institution while maintaining the personal touch and services of a hometown bank.

Small Staff Doesn’t Mean Small IT

Cherokee State Bank prides itself on its century-plus track record of delivering banking services to Cherokee, Iowa, and the surrounding communities. Bank staff know that small banks need to provide a big-bank approach to technology.

“We have a small staff because we’re a small community bank,” says Craig W. Wiese, Senior Vice President. “With only one location, we have to think out of the box to keep operating for our customers. Secur-Serv provides us with the flexibility and broad expertise we need at a fraction of the cost of one in-house IT staff member.”

Cherokee State Bank has worked with Secur-Serv for more than a decade to implement a variety of technology expertise and support, while allowing in-house staff to focus on providing banking services.

Key Solutions

As technology use in the bank expands, Cherokee State Bank works with Secur-Serv to make sure its systems keep up the pace.

“It’s a no-brainer to work with Secur-Serv,” says Wiese. “We don’t have in-house IT staff, but we do have strategic plans that include enhanced technology initiatives. Secur-Serv provides the expertise and experience to make our plans a reality.”

“We really appreciate the Secur-Serv team—they are very responsive to issues. We’ve been working with the team for more than a decade. They always provide solutions to problems that we need solved.”

Craig W. Wiese, Senior Vice President, Cherokee State Bank

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

When an FDIC audit required an expansion of its business continuity and disaster recovery plan, Cherokee State Bank needed a creative solution. Staff asked themselves what would happen if they had to close their office to customers. How could they continue to provide service during a disaster?

Wiese notes, “Even though customers take full advantage of our online banking options, they still need a personal touch if something goes wrong. In the event of a disaster or other emergency where we may not be able to get into our main office, we must have access to our back-end systems, so we can solve customer issues.”

Secur-Serv helped set up a second administrative location so that Cherokee State Bank can be proactive in maintaining crucial backups and initiating immediate disaster recovery activities. The additional location ensures bank employees can access key systems whether or not the main office is closed due to natural disaster, pandemic response, or other emergency.

Cybersecurity Hardening

Banks are an obvious target for cyberattacks. These bad actors will leave no stone unturned looking for access. That’s why Secur-Serv and Cherokee State Bank worked together on several cybersecurity enhancement efforts, including a recent initiative to harden its Microsoft® Office® 365 applications.

“Even day-to-day systems such as Office are not immune to attack,” states Wiese. “This hardening ensures we’ve closed possible avenues for hackers to exploit before they become a problem.”

Secur-Serv constantly monitors client systems to identify and address vulnerabilities. In Cherokee State Bank’s case, Secur-Serv cybersecurity experts identified an issue in its email security protection and moved to upgrade that system immediately.

“Secur-Serv works with us to ensure we’ve got pertinent security information and event management (SIEM) at our fingertips,” Wiese says. “And we get the advantage of the intelligence they gain across their client base, which they proactively apply for us before we experience an incident.”

Work-From-Home Support

No business is immune from natural disaster. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cherokee State Bank needed to ensure customers had access to its crucial business and personal operating funds. But with stay-at-home orders and social distancing, how could it do that?

Part of the solution was to create two teams so that the office was always covered. Secur-Serv worked with Cherokee State Bank to grant both teams access to the remote administrative site and to ensure all team members were trained on the systems.

Another piece of the solution was to develop remote workforce policies and procedures. These efforts ensured that IT infrastructure was robust enough to maintain uptime and cybersecurity protocols even while staff members worked from home.

“We appreciate the Secur-Serv team,” concludes Wiese. “They are responsive to issues and proactive in their approach to serving our operational needs.“

Secur-Serv is proud to help this long-time community bank serve its customers securely and seamlessly.