“There's only so much we could do as a team when it comes to safeguarding our data ... Our coworkers have to help us in that fight. And that's where we try to give them tools like Virtru to be in that fight with us.”
Information Tech and Security Director
Platte Valley Companies primarily provides banking services, with Platte Valley Bank as its flagship brand. But the group of companies also spans businesses that support mortgage, investment, and trust services; they even have a heavy equipment lending service that provides access to semi-trucks, construction equipment, and aircraft.
Spread across Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado, Platte Valley serves a wide range of customers diverse in age and business. They needed an uncomplicated, straightforward security solution for files and emails that would help them comply, but also be easy to use. That’s where Virtru comes in.
With Virtru, Platte Valley Companies is able to:
Platte Valley uses Virtru Secure Share and Virtru’s email plugin for end-to-end encryption of sensitive customer data. This can include W2s, loan and tax information, personally identifiable information (PII), and more.
Quintin Zabel, Platte Valley’s Information Tech and Security Director, is responsible for the security of the information that customers send in, which is where ease of use becomes paramount. It’s also why Platte Valley chose to use Virtru instead of Microsoft Office 365’s native encryption model.
“One of the main selling points was the ease of use on the customer side. If you send an encrypted email using Office 365 native [security], it's just more confusing to the end user,” Zabel said. “Even as an IT guy, [this doesn’t] even make sense. I don’t even want to use this, and I'm a computer person, you know?”
When it came to files too large to share through email, Platte Valley shopped around but ultimately landed on Virtru Secure Share. In addition to its monetary value, Secure Share’s simplicity just seemed to fit the operation better.
“[Dropbox] was overkill for what we were trying to do,” explains Zabel. “I wanted to avoid having to have customers create their own login accounts. That was a big thing that we're looking for. The easier we can make it for the customer experience, the better.”
In the financial services industry, trust is everything: Strong security is just one way Platte Valley Bank and its sister companies demonstrate credibility and trustworthiness. Zabel is always thinking of the customer experience: “We're, as a company, trying to take your information seriously,” said Zabel about customer data. “We're trying to protect it. Yes, we have a tool in place.”
But a tool can only be put to good use when a person knows how to wield it. It’s why Zabel was sold on Virtru’s seamless user experience – to embolden Platte Valley employees to protect customer data every step of the way and to make it easier to do so.
“There's only so much we could do as a team when it comes to safeguarding our data,” said Zabel. “Our coworkers have to help us in that fight. And that's where we try to give them tools like Virtru to be in that fight with us.”
For Zabel, Virtru’s ease of use wasn’t just convenient for his employees. It’s empowering for Platte Valley’s customer base – which helps cultivate trust as well. “We live in some regions that have an older population,” Zabel explained. “And when it comes to encryption, it can be very confusing and very frustrating to them. So the easier you can make it, the better, while at the same time not sacrificing security.”
Having an easy, customer-facing encryption tool is a way of letting Platte Valley customers know that their data is in good hands. As a matter of fact, with Virtru, it’s in their own hands — because the customer always has ultimate control of their own information and the option to revoke access at any time they choose.
For Platte Valley and growing conglomerates like it, data ownership is a key concern. From a compliance perspective, Virtru helps Platte Valley keep its compliance situation uncomplicated by placing complete control of the data into the hands of the data owner.
“I just like the idea of Virtru just acting more as a channel to receive data rather than a warehouse somewhere or a data center,” said Zabel. “With our regulatory [requirements] that we have to follow, it's a problem if there's data sitting outside of the U.S. somewhere.”
As a financial institution, Platte Valley is beholden to regulations from FDIC and others. The FFIEC framework is also a vital influence on the way Zabel’s team is obligated to handle data – and end-to-end encryption is a standard of protection for all of them. When a customer uses Secure Share to encrypt and share their tax forms, the customer is the sole arbiter of access to that data – and it does not sit unattended in a Platte Valley cloud. Virtru effectively enables data owners to put their sensitive files and emails on a leash.
Zabel expressed this as another reason he steered away from Dropbox and file-sharing services like it.
“I hated the fact that we had customer files sitting in our co-worker's’ Dropbox accounts,” Zabel said. In that scenario, “we have customer info sitting on the cloud somewhere, and we don't have good control over that as far as where it's going and what's being done. Whereas with Virtru, we're just simply sending you a file, or you're sending us a file, and it's not being kept anywhere else besides between our two computers.”
As Platte Valley continues to grow and scale, its security challenges may grow more complex. With Virtru, they can continue their upward mobility without sacrificing their customers’ privacy or creating user experience friction for employees or customers. In the words of Zabel:
“If you're looking for something simple and straightforward, then look at Virtru.”