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Monday, December 4, 2023

EastWest taps industry leaders in the fight against cyber threats

As concern for bank fraud and other scams mounts, EastWest Bank has at the helm of its cybersecurity and information departments two men who share decades of experience in the field.

EastWest Bank executive vice president, chief information officer and head of technology and productivity Rick Pusag (left) EastWest first vice president, chief information security and data protection officer Joey Regala

Rick Pusag is the executive vice president, chief information officer and head of technology and productivity, while Joey Regala is the first vice president, chief information security and data protection officer.

With Pusag manning systems and infrastructure and Regala manning cybersecurity, EastWest Bank customers can feel at ease knowing that these industry experts are on their side, at all times.

As cases of bank fraud climb in this challenging climate, EastWest remains vigilant in its efforts to keep the bank and its customers secure against future attacks.

Joey’s group is chiefly concerned with data protection and cybersecurity, while Rick’s group handles the IT infrastructure that both customers and employees interact with—the two collaborate closely together to keep EastWest’s cybersecurity up to date.

“EastWest is constantly adjusting to the cyber terrain, looking for vulnerabilities and mitigating them accordingly,” says Regala. “Our office, the Information Security and Data Protection Office, consistently coordinates with the IT Group to further strengthen cybersecurity.”

Defense in depth

Regala stands in the way of cybersecurity threats to protect the bank and its customers. He transitioned from auditing to accounting to IT auditing and now cybersecurity working for nearly 30 years of wide information technology experience.

He has worked with different companies and banks along with being a trailblazer in the Information Security Officers Group where he was the former president. He is member of the PNP-Anti CyberCrime Advisory Council and the BAP Cybersecurity Working Committee.

What Regala deems vital in his line of work is a learning mindset. “You have to learn the behavior of people, of people on the other side, in order to prevent potential attacks. The cybersecurity officer continues to stress the importance of knowing how threats are formed and how they will attack. “You have to learn from the hacker, learn to think like the hacker.”

He says cybersecurity defense is like a castle with many layers of protection. He uses the term ‘Defense in Depth’, a security strategy that enacts multiple security measures to protect against threats. He also underscores the significance AI and machine learning when it comes to identifying and solving IT threats.

“The power of AI is a big help in detecting threats and identifying errant behavior to prevent attacks. Machine learning assists in identifying fraud management, and there are analytical tools using geolocation, or other means to identify abnormal behavior in account movements.”

An avid cyclist, Regala draws parallels from safety in the road while on a bike to his line of work. “Biking is like cybersecurity. You have to keep on pedaling, or you will fall, just like in cybersecurity you need to keep on looking for new ways to defend the cyberspace. You have to stop, look, and listen. Always find time to identify possible threats and navigate the terrain to find the best course of action”.

He says one should always work towards new and evolved ways to shore up the bank’s defense. “You constantly have to do risk assessment and take time to patiently determine the best course of action. Each problem, each attack can be different. So, the solutions must evolve along the way,” He says.

“Never rest—you either sink or swim—that’s my cyber security slogan. Never be satisfied with what you have done, always look at new ways to protect the bank,” says Regala.

Man with a mission

Hailing from a military background from the US along with extensive international professional experience, Pusag seeks to give meaningful service to the bank’s employees and customers. “The military was about identifying what people require to be successful. Individuals are very important, and you need to understand what they need to succeed.”

He says, “leadership is through motivation and pointing others in the right direction to succeed. The world of tech and banking can hold multiple challenges, but these can always be overcome with the right people and the right mindset.”

Sharing that a good day at work means finding solutions to problems and solving them with your team, Pusag remains confident of the bank’s ability to handle both current and future threats. “In the recent months, EastWest has made significant investments to upgrade and futureproof its technology infrastructures,” he says.

Being resilient and having a positive mindset is crucial not only in work, but in life as well. “In a job where there is always a challenge, it is best to remind yourself that nothing is insurmountable, and you can overcome that hurdle and resolve them. You need people to bounce those situations with,” he says.

Customer protection

Pusag says the bank is always ready to handle the threats that will come their way. “We aim to fully implement and exploit EastWest’s investment in the digital experience platform.”

He says this platform will improve how customers interact with the bank. He assures that it will also provide enhanced capabilities to employees as the platform can also create improved tools they can utilize when servicing customers. Users of the bank’s systems will continue to experience advanced upgrades that will give them easier and more secure access.

The customers of EastWest can rest assured knowing that experts such as Regala and Pusag are on the job to protect clients and put them first in terms of safety and security.

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