The Credit Union National Association, a major lobbyist and trade association for credit unions, is recovering after its systems were knocked offline earlier this week following a “cyber incident.”
CUNA, headquartered in Washington DC, represents state and federally-chartered credit unions across the U.S., and provides lobbying, advocacy and other trade association services.
But its systems were knocked offline Monday as a result of ransomware, according to a source familiar with the incident who was not authorized to talk to the press. The type of ransomware used is not immediately known, but CUNA is understood to predominantly run Microsoft software, which is frequently a target of ransomware.
A banner on the organization’s website described the outage only as “technical issues” with its systems.
Vicky Christner, a spokesperson for CUNA, would not confirm ransomware was the cause of the outage but said the organization was “addressing a cyber incident,” describing it as a “business disruption issue.”
“CUNA does not store Social Security numbers or credit card numbers of our members,” said Christner. “Based on our investigation to date, we have no evidence to suggest that any data in our system – such as names, businesses addresses and email addresses – have been accessed.”
“Our investigation remains ongoing,” said Christner.
The incident comes just month after CUNA hosted a simulated ransomware attack, aimed at helping credit unions defend against ransomware.
CUNA becomes the latest organization to be hit by ransomware in recent months. Last year, aluminum manufacturer Aebi Schmidt, postage and shipping company Pitney Bowes, and drinks maker Arizona Beverages were all hit by ransomware, each knocking their systems offline for days.
At the time of writing, CUNA’s website said aims to have systems up “soon.”
Not the city, the $57 million-funded cryptocurrency custodian startup. When someone wants to keep tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other coins safe, they put them in Anchorage’s vault. And now they can trade straight from custody so they never have to worry about getting robbed mid-transaction.
With backing from Visa, Andreessen Horowitz, and Blockchain Capital, Anchorage has emerged as the darling of the cryptocurrency security startup scene. Today it’s flexing its muscle and war chest by announcing its first acquisition, crypto risk modeling company Merkle Data.
Anchorage has already integrated Merkle’s technology and team to power today’s launch of its new trading feature. It eliminates the need for big crypto owners to manually move assets in and out of custody to buy or sell, or to set up their own in-house trading. Instead of grabbing some undisclosed spread between the spot price and the price Anchorage quotes its clients, it charges a transparent per transaction fee of a tenth of a percent.
It’s stressful enough trading around digital fortunes. Anchorage gives institutions and token moguls peace of mind throughout the process while letting them stake and vote while their riches are in custody. Anchorage CEO Nathan McCauley tells me “Our clients want to be able to fund a bank account with USD and have it seamlessly converted into crypto, securely held in their custody accounts. Shockingly, that’s not yet the norm–but we’re changing that.”
Founded in 2017 by leaders behind Docker and Square, Anchorage’s core business is its omnimetric security system that takes passwords that can be lost or stolen out of the equation. Instead, it uses humans and AI to review scans of your biometrics, nearby networks, and other data for identity confirmation. Then it requires consensus approval for transactions from a set of trusted managers you’ve whitelisted.
With Anchorage Trading, the startup promises efficient order routing, transparent pricing, and multi-venue liquidity from OTC desks, exchanges, and market makers. “Because trading and custody are directly integrated, we’re able to buy and sell crypto from custody, without having to make risky external transfers or deal with multiple accounts from different providers” says Bart Stephens, founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital.
Trading isn’t Anchorage’s primary business, so it doesn’t have to squeeze clients on their transactions and can instead try to keep them happy for the long-term. That also sets up Anchorage to be foundational part of the cryptocurrency stack. It wouldn’t disclose the terms of the Merkle Data acquisition, but the Pantera Capital-backed company brings quantative analysts to Anchorage to keep its trading safe and smart.
“Unlike most traditional financial assets, crypto assets are bearer assets: in order to do anything with them, you need to hold the underlying private keys. This means crypto custodians like Anchorage must play a much larger role than custodians do in traditional finance” says McCauley. “Services like trading, settlement, posting collateral, lending, and all other financial activities surrounding the assets rely on the custodian’s involvement, and in our view are best performed by the custodian directly.”
Anchorage will be competing with Coinbase, which offers integrated custody and institutional brokerage through its agency-only OTC desk. Fidelity Digital Assets combines trading and brokerage, but for Bitcoin only. BitGo offers brokerage from custody through a partnership with Genesis Global Trading. But Anchorage hopes its experience handling huge sums, clear pricing, and credentials like membership in Facebook’s Libra Association will win it clients.
McCauley says the biggest threat to Anchorage isn’t competitors, thoguh, but hazy regulation. Anchorage is building a core piece of the blockchain economy’s infrastructure. But for the biggest financial institutions to be comfortable getting involved, lawmakers need to make it clear what’s legal.