Main Street Matters ICBA Blog

Gimme Shelter

Dec 31, 2017
20130312-helpWith the new year in full swing, community bankers are obligated to do everything we can to make it as good as possible for our institutions and local communities. That means not only planning how we can meet the banking needs of our friends and neighbors, but how we can defend them in an era of rising security risks.

From natural disasters to cybercrime, the community banking industry must protect ourselves and the integrity of the customers we proudly serve. Fortunately, our nationwide industry reach is our strength, offering us the option of cooperative and collective security and recovery. And that is precisely how Sheltered Harbor aims to improve our overall industry resiliency.

Sheltered Harbor is a financial services sector initiative that enables financial institutions to securely store and rapidly reconstitute account information while recovering from a cyber incident or natural disaster—allowing continued customer access through a service provider or another financial institution. The initiative provides standards and processes for the daily storage and backup of customer deposit information in an off-line data vault so it remains available in the case of a debilitating incident.

Here’s how it works. All participating institutions make a daily copy of account data in a standard format that is archived in a secure, decentralized data vault. The data remains intact and is accessible if needed exactly as when it was archived. All participating institutions update their adherence reviews to ensure that the Sheltered Harbor standards are exercised consistently.

This data storage allows a peer institution or core service provider to restore account information in case of a major cyber event or other disaster, minimizing the impact to customers. If your disaster recovery and business continuity plans fail, your restoring partner can service your customers in a relatively short time period. In other words, Sheltered Harbor participants have each other’s backs.

Consumer data stored in a Sheltered Harbor data vault is encrypted, cannot be altered, and is strictly confidential. While we hope not to have to use the program, it offers us all the insurance we need should the unthinkable happen. Sheltered Harbor is the answer if all other disaster recovery options have been exhausted—a fallout shelter for customer data.

Operated by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), Sheltered Harbor is directed by a 34-member board of directors broadly representative of the financial services industry. ICBA has had a seat at the table since the inception of the initiative and is a member of the board of directors and collaborates with other industry associations on the initiative.

While Shelter Harbor is a voluntary industry initiative, I hope that all community banks will participate over time. With security risks at an all-time high, this is a necessary step for the well-being of the community banking industry and our customers. Together, we will do whatever it takes to plan ahead, protect our customers, and ensure our beloved community banking industry continues to flourish. To learn more or join Sheltered Harbor, please visit

Learn More About Sheltered Harbor

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  1. | Feb 21, 2018
    This is really an interesting blog, I would like to read more of your articles to be smarter and understand much better what you write about

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