Keeping financial data secure

Jeff Streelman ’85


Summer 2013

In today’s connected electronic world, Jeff Streelman ’85 keeps busy by providing tools that help protect customer information at Citi. “My day doesn’t look that exciting, since it is primarily filled with meetings and conference calls from the moment I arrive and sometimes late into the evening,” he said. “My team provides support for Citi’s global businesses.”

Streelman, an executive vice president at Citi, leads a team of program managers, business analysts and operations staff that develops and supports data protection programs and processes that protect Citi’s customer information. It is work that becomes incredibly complex due to Citi’s global footprint—in more than 160 countries—many having different customer privacy regulations.

He notes that all financial institutions pay close attention to cyber-security matters, since protecting customer information is a top priority.

“We’re responsible for keeping information about our clients safe—bank accounts, savings, loans, deposits, spending history—all kinds of information our clients entrust to us,” he said.

During those long days, Streelman ensures all his projects are keeping that information safe, working with engineering to develop tools for data protection, discussing countless ways to ensure safety and deciding which make sense to implement at Citi. The work also involves providing awareness and training to ensure colleagues have the tools they need to protect Citi’s intellectual property and customer information.

He discussed a reported hacking technique called“spear-phishing”— in which employees at a company believed to have access to financial or privileged systems are targeted. These hackers use social media pages like Facebook and LinkedIn to generate custom e-mails that typically contain web links to sites, which download virus-infected software (known as malware) in an effort to capture banking and access credentials.

Streelman looks back fondly on his Calvin education in computer science, noting that the first half of his master’s degree work was material he already had in his undergraduate days. That “speaks volumes” about the quality and breadth of a Calvin education, he said.

After Calvin and graduate school, he worked in applications development and then management for a couple of companies, finally taking a job with Citi, where he’s had many responsibilities over his 22-year career at the bank. He took the job in information security just as it was becoming a business necessity. Streelman was drawn to Citi for its emphasis on leading-edge global financial solutions and technology—something Citi has excelled at during its 200-year history, he said.

While it is not always easy to explain his work, there is always more to accomplish. “There’s a lot of introspection, as in ‘are we doing enough?’” Streelman said. “You never feel like you have everything solved because there are always new risks. It takes a constant vigilance.”