Cybersecurity in the Financial Services Industry

FINANCIAL-GRADE™ Expertise for IT Infrastructure

Since the early days of business, our work with financial services has grown enormously. By transforming data into information and information into action, financial institutions are at the forefront of technology innovation, which has led to a better customer experience and economic growth. However, there are concerns that many critical systems remain vulnerable despite these changes in how we handle money today.

According to IBM, in the cost of data breach report in 2021, a data breach in the financial sector costs an average of $5.72m. Today’s threat landscape shows that the breach in a hybrid cloud environment costs an average of $3.61m, while the ransomware breach with an average cost of $4.62m. According to a recent survey by Information Age and Ovum Research, 9% feel Safe from Insider Threats, while 42% Believe that their” Privileged Users” Pose the Biggest Threat to the organization.

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There are many reasons why protecting critical systems is a top priority. In today’s connected world, malicious actors can cause substantial damage with relative ease and at little cost. The days of organizations protecting themselves with high walls and well-trained guards are long gone. Today, cyberattacks are directed against the weakest links: a company’s employees, information systems and data.

Even when an organization is secure, it can be easy to unintentionally create a discrepancy between how we see the world and how it behaves. Accepting that our systems are always exposed to cyberattacks means we must constantly review security strategies and tactics. Otherwise, we may design and build complex systems resilient against attack but too hard to use or maintain. When systems are too complicated to use, people choose the path of least resistance.

The same principles apply to financial services. Despite the high risk of cyberattacks, many financial services organizations rely too much on outdated security measures and inadequate cyber defenses. At the same time, they continue to develop new products and services, further expanding the attack surface.

Instead, financial institutions need to identify the most important and then build a strategy around the business objectives instead of a security strategy or approach to defending all assets. This model can produce great results, but it requires understanding what is most impactful, identifying the risks and then using those insights to build a better, more proactively secure strategy.

Certain activities are inherently more risky than others. For instance, a transaction such as an ATM withdrawal or international remittance with a high payoff can attract fraudsters. In this case — and many others where risks are higher — companies must implement effective measures to mitigate the potential damage. For example, an international remittance transaction with a high settlement value is more likely to be targeted than a token sale of an as-yet-unreleased data asset.

Features Required To Secure Financial Companies

Financial services organizations must start with the right approach and then adapt their security strategy based on their risks. Doing this requires both the right people and a way to evaluate risk at the right level of detail (instead of a “big picture” mentality). The following are the steps that shape a financial services industry’s cybersecurity:

Assess Your Bank’s Infrastructure and Its Cybersecurity
Your infrastructure and software systems form the basis for most of your business, holding your data within your databases and helping to make sure the day-to-day functionality of your operations and services runs smoothly.

The infrastructure of your business must accommodate the needs of your current requirements. Still, it must be designed in such a way as to accommodate the future needs of your business, fostering seamless system upgrades that will allow your company to grow. Seamless system upgrades are especially helpful with IT security.

Infrastructure for your company’s IT infrastructure should respond quickly to security issues that will safeguard computers from developing vulnerabilities and help make sure that networks remain robust.

Independently and through outside security firms, your system needs to be reviewed regularly to identify strengths and weaknesses and areas that need strengthening and improvement. This will help organizations stay on top of emerging threats because they’ll be able to bring them to your network administrators’ attention quickly. This will help you remain in agreement with industry best practices through security.

Establish an Enterprise-wide Security Policy
When drawing up a cybersecurity policy for a banking organization, it is essential to prioritize the assets or locations of the highest importance to the organization, such as handling sensitive information or regulated products.

Each valuable asset must be reviewed, and a plan for optimal handling should be formulated to secure that asset. The business should define a method for all employees needing access to that asset records to know what actions should be taken to protect the asset.

A preventive policy should be created to secure assets based on the principle of least privilege, preventing anyone from accessing their assets or operating their apparatus than the law requires them to. This strategy prevents malicious or unintended actions or security incidents caused by improper access or mistakes.

The policy can also ensure that employees are reminded of how cybercriminals conduct social engineering attacks, an important consideration for every company. The vulnerability and ignorance of software developers are exploited by hackers, who often employ social engineering vectors like e-mail phishing.

Implement Logging and Monitoring
Financial services institutions should employ logging and monitoring technologies so they can identify malicious activities and prevent them. The penetration testing conducted by IBM Trusteer Mobile Security and IBM Internet Security & Risk Manager can provide the security monitoring technology and other support necessary to detect suspicious network traffic patterns.

Security professionals should use the information obtained through real-time threat detection to identify, correlate, analyze and take action on attacks before they reach critical infrastructure or business processes.

As businesses adopt cloud computing solutions, they must ensure that those systems are secure from cyber-attacks.

Create a Disaster Recovery Plan
Financial organizations should maintain a program that addresses the issues that could lead to data loss and the consequences of such an incident. This should address how to handle any data loss and what data would need to be safeguarded, how the site is protected from any cyber-attacks, how backup plans are implemented and how recovery activities can be carried out.

A plan has to cover all aspects of a business, from its network to its environment, from IT infrastructure (hardware and software) to applications.

Encrypt Your Data: Encrypting sensitive data at rest and in transit is a key factor to identify the risks and mitigating them. The use of encryption technologies allows organizations to prevent unauthorized access, disclosure, or alteration of data in transit while at rest on hard disks, tapes, or other media.

Encryption can be applied both at rest and in transport. At rest, encryption can be used as part of storage security strategies to protect data from malware by eliminating or reducing exposure to malware code (viruses). Encryption may also protect against physical attacks on the data center. If a physical attack occurs, encryption prevents an attacker from accessing data.

The data is protected from man-in-the-middle attacks where transport encryption is used because encryption secures information as it travels over a network and decrypts it only at the targeted destination. Encryption technologies include Transport Layer Security (TLS), IPsec, SSL and Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Some are more efficient than others, so it’s important to assess the impact of encryption on performance.

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
To ensure the highest level of security, organizations should implement a multi-factor authentication strategy. This includes using biometrics or security tokens that query a user’s authentication credentials via an authentication token such as RSA SecurID or Duo Security, which currently offers Dual Factor authentication.

Multi-factor authentication can be carried out in several ways, including hardware token devices or software-based authenticator systems. In either case, the user’s credentials still need to be verified by using factors such as a PIN code or biometric identifiers such as fingerprints.

Benefits Of the Right IT Infrastructure in the Financial Services Sector

The following are the benefits of creating, implementing and maintaining IT infrastructure for the financial sector.

  1. Increased Cost Management and Transparency: With IT infrastructure, cost management and transparency are guaranteed in the financial sector. They can monitor security and financial data according to business requirements. The system also gives an insight into the cost and resources to be used for different business activities.
  2. Faster Time to Market: IT infrastructure in the financial sector allows businesses to respond quickly to the changes in market needs and provide services that are in demand. With the help of IT infrastructure, it is easier to integrate systems and identify processes that speed up business processes.
  3. Stability: Through the use of IT infrastructure in a business, it provides stability in terms of dealing with data and applications. It also provides a steady platform that allows businesses to keep track of business operations.
  4. Scalability: IT infrastructure in the financial sector makes it possible for organizations to scale their business requirements. It helps increase the number of users, users of different types, and facilities. IT infrastructure is also very easy to manage with centralized security features that ensure that all applications have confidentiality, integrity and availability.
  5. High Availability and Disaster Recovery: IT infrastructure helps organizations recover data and applications quickly after disasters. It also ensures high availability and continuity of operations. It is easier to create business continuity plans with highly available systems that could lead to smooth business operations in disaster or failure. With this, businesses can also offer services to their customers with maximum efficiency.

Considerations for IT Infrastructures in the Financial Institution

Some of the common issues that arise when developing, maintaining and protecting IT Infrastructure for a financial institution are as follows:

Data Security: Information security is a major concern for financial services institutions as it deals with large amounts of confidential information. A secure data management strategy should be adopted to ensure the safety and confidentiality of data. For this, they should consider the following steps:

  • Policies and procedures need to be developed that defines what information is confidential and how it should be stored.
  • Encryption techniques and access controls should be used to protect data from unauthorized access, corruption and theft.
  • It is also important to ensure that data backups are not stored in the same location but a separate location.

Security Awareness: Another issue that arises when an organization develops, maintains, and protects IT infrastructures is security awareness. Since technology changes continuously, users may become unaware of the new threats. It is important to perform security training sessions periodically to address this issue. This can be done by including IT Security awareness modules in employees’ career development plans.

Financial organizations should create an organizational security policy for their employees to ensure that they know the company policies and regulations. The procedures for establishing a security policy and maintaining secure data should also be in place.

Responsible Disclosure: The role of responsible disclosure is to notify computer security professionals about potential IT infrastructure vulnerabilities. This could also include reporting to law enforcement agencies, government agencies, or regulators. The process is good for identifying possible threats and planning appropriate mitigation strategies.

Regular Technology Reviews: The effectiveness of technology in the financial sector can be improved by conducting regular reviews and audits of the technology used. It is important to ensure that systems are regularly updated with the latest security patches, software applications, hardware devices, and patches. IT Infrastructure should also be evaluated periodically to ensure no security vulnerabilities.

Neovera’s Managed IT and Cybersecurity Solutions
It comes down to this – cybersecurity is a critical issue for financial institutions. Your financial institution needs to protect against cyberattacks, including implementing strong security measures and training employees to identify and respond to threats. Financial institutions also have a responsibility to work with law enforcement and other agencies to share information about threats and best practices for mitigating them. This is why managed services and having the right cybersecurity partner is place is inevitable.

Neovera engineers and implements IT Infrastructure for the financial sector to must meet customers’ needs and serve their strategic business goals. With cost-effective, scalable solutions that maintain the confidentiality of information, all of Neovera’s services are individualized to the specific company. We navigate and identify the different technologies available that can be used to create an optimal IT infrastructure that meets your requirements.

IT infrastructure is vital for organizations to deliver their services effectively and efficiently. Neovera identifies reliable data centers and robust infrastructure to support your online business customers. With the right disaster recovery plan and as a part of your continuity plan, the integrity of your business is protected. As the backbone of any organization, you need to ensure that operations is always up and running with minimal downtime and uninterrupted functionality.

Learn more about Neovera’s solutions for financial institutions and how we can can help protect your data, customers, corporate assets and your company’s reputation from the growing threat of cybercrime.

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