The 60’s tune “Feelin’ Groovy” comes to mind when you talk to INB’s Senior Vice President, Information Technology, Charlie Kerwin, about online security. After all, he studied music in college.
The lyrics, “Slow down, you’re going too fast,” are a natural seque when you hear Charlie say we can protect ourselves against online fraud by simply slowing down. “Stop and think about what you are getting ready to do and what the impacts will be,” he says. “Think about that link you’re about to click, the email or attachment you’re about to open, the website you’re about to visit, or in my case, the change you’re about to make on the network.”
Charlie has been part of INB’s technology team since joining INB in 2003. He recently earned a promotion and the title, “Senior Vice President,” thanks to his thoughtful approach to keeping the bank and its customers safe online.
The person charged with guarding a bank’s security is bound to have worries. He says, “There’s a certain level of constant paranoia that goes along with being in InfoSec/Cybersecurity. However, the bank has always treated security as something that we want to be good at instead of needing to be good at it. That mindset alone makes the IT department’s job easier. We have a great group in IT that focuses every day on keeping the bank and the bank’s customers secure.”
To stay current on the ever-changing IT security world, Charlie reads and follows a lot of different sources. He says one of his favorites is Dr. Eric Cole. “I took an online class from him four or five years ago and was really impressed with his approach to security. Since then, I’ve had an opportunity several times to hear him speak/teach/present, including earlier this year at UIS.”
Charlie’s route from music major to his current position is distinctly his own. He says, “My parents got our first PC in 1990, and I played a lot on it. I broke it a few times, but was always able to get it back up and running.” While taking a music theory class at Augustana College in Rock Island, Charlie spent time doing notations on computers thanks to the dorms having Internet access. “This was back before browsers and apps,” he points out. “Most of the Internet access was on text-based applications including email! I transferred to ISU (Illinois State University) to switch to music therapy and continued to tinker a lot on computers. When I came back home, I wanted to take some computer classes at LLCC since I enjoyed working on computers so much.”
While talking to one of the professors, Charlie learned that Levi, Ray and Shoup (LRS) was offering a three-month program of several certification classes that ended with a job with the company. Charlie took the opportunity. He worked at LRS as a network consultant for three years. He later applied for an opening at INB and got the job.
Today’s IT work is considerably different than it was when he started at INB. Charlie says the biggest change is that he and his staff are able to remote access into PCs and servers. “Back in the day, if something went wrong, and we couldn’t reach it on the network, we were hoofing it to whichever PC or server was acting up. Today, so much of it is done via software because so much of what we do now is virtual machines.” But getting to this virtual environment was probably one of Charlie’s bigger challenges. “It’s made our jobs much easier, but the conversion was long and sometimes difficult.”
Thanks to Charlie for taking the bank through that transition and the many more surely to follow. Please congratulate him on his promotion.