Nicolet National Bank strengthens its security posture

Customer Profile

Based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Nicolet National Bank is dedicated to helping local and regional businesses and individuals achieve their financial goals. Now operating over 50 branches, Nicolet has grown to offer a wide range of retail, consumer, and wealth management solutions to customers across the state and beyond. The bank’s growth has been fueled by Nicolet’s position as the most active bank acquirer in the state, with nine community bank acquisitions in the past decade.

Business Drivers

Nicolet National Bank recognized that in a world with evolving data risks and regulations, proactive data protection is imperative – particularly for a financial institution with an ever-growing volume of sensitive information. Nicolet’s information security team realized that with greater data intelligence, they could make more informed decisions on managing an influx of data generated through M&A activity while preemptively mitigating threats and enhancing their overall security posture.

The Challenge

Collecting insight into a shifting volume of unstructured data is no easy feat.

According to Ryan Meyer, information security analyst at Nicolet National Bank, it was difficult to understand all the data the bank was acquiring. “We wanted to see the landscape of our data growth through our prevalent M&A activity,” Meyer said. “We wanted to know the rate at which data is being generated, how it’s being generated, where it’s being generated… all of these questions were constantly on our minds.”

In addition to these insights, Nicolet wanted to eliminate any risk of user credentials ending up in the wrong hands by scanning for and remediating potential instances of password-related documents being improperly stored.

To meet these requirements, Nicolet National Bank originally deployed what seemed to be a promising data security platform. However, the solution struggled with data discovery and classification accuracy and speed, and the vendor provided inadequate customer support; after a year, most of the data remained untouched by the tool. The team realized they needed a better way forward.

“We are now in a place where possibly none of us thought we’d be. We feel very confident.”
Ryan Meyer

The Solution

The Nicolet team discovered DryvIQ (formerly SkySync) through an acquisition. The acquired bank had used the platform to successfully complete a data migration project. “The technology performed really well, and DryvIQ’s data classification capabilities seemed to align with our expectations,” Meyer said.

“The level of support DryvIQ offered was also very compelling. We knew we would need help navigating something we weren’t experts in.”

To avoid a second year-long false start, Nicolet launched a pilot engagement with DryvIQ to test its unstructured data discovery and classification solution before rolling the platform out organization-wide.

Using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning classifiers, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII) detection, sensitive image detection, and advanced forms matching, DryvIQ was able to accurately scan and identify Nicolet’s unstructured data, assess its sensitivity, and classify it accordingly – delivering accuracy rates up to 92 percent.

“We were able to dial in the accuracy as we went along, properly identifying and validating the classification,” Meyer said.

To address Nicolet’s concerns about user credentials, DryvIQ implemented a specific policy to detect instances of improperly stored passwords, such as those within script files or stored in public repositories accessible to all employees – opportunities for a data breach if left exposed.

Meyer and his team were delighted by the support they received from DryvIQ during the pilot program, stating, “It’s been amazing to watch DryvIQ address our needs on the spot. It’s very impressive, the team’s depth of knowledge and the speed at which they work.”

The Results

Based on the sensitive data discovery and classification results, DryvIQ was able to make recommendations to the Nicolet team that would immediately improve the organization’s security posture. Beyond providing an immediate remediation plan, the DryvIQ platform has automated the ongoing policy enforcement and continually discovers and protects data as it’s updated or created, delivering improved data governance.

“We are now in a place where possibly none of us thought we’d be,” Meyer said. “We feel very confident.”

In addition to a stronger security posture, Nicolet Bank now has the intelligence to make decisions that can increase efficiencies in data management. For example, with insight into the age and type of the data that they’re storing, the Nicolet team can decide whether it’s valuable data that they need to migrate to a new location or if it’s redundant, trivial, or obsolete (ROT) data that could be purged entirely – saving the company both time and money.

DryvIQ provides this data intelligence in real-time dashboards and detailed reports. “The reporting that the DryvIQ platform provides is presented and visualized in a way that makes it very helpful for us to go back to each department for productive conversations to make better decisions based on what we can now see about our data. It’s been very, very valuable to us,” Meyer said.

Improved Confidence with Speed and Accuracy

By partnering with DryvIQ, Nicolet drastically reduced their time to value – going from a pilot program to a full rollout of unstructured data discovery and classification in 66 days, a “night and day” difference from their prior experience, Meyer said.

“With DryvIQ, we got exactly what we hoped for. We’re so much further along than we expected to be and very comfortable with the policies and processes we’ve built out so far,” Meyer said. “Between the speed and accuracy of the platform and working with the DryvIQ team, it’s just been incredible. It’s been a very frictionless process, and we’re very happy.”