The importance of cybersecurity doesn’t just apply to the IT industry. It is a vital part of every business, particularly within the finance sector. Banks and other financial organisations hold and manage millions of transactions daily, with the majority of these payments being done by digital platforms. This rise in digital payment options has come with a rise in targeted cyberattacks.
Cybersecurity has been a critical factor in the financial industry and has become fundamental in establishing a level of trust and credibility with customers. The fundamental reason placing significance on cybersecurity for the finance industry is protecting customer resources. As more customers convert to cashless finance, banking activities are typically done via online platforms. In the case of a security breach, it damages the customer but has an additional impact on the business retrieving information and the implications of listing customer trust.
Despite further government efforts to prevent cyber-attacks, the vision of a world free of these security breaches is unlikely. According to BitDefender, ransomware attacks increased by over 700% worldwide in the first half of 2020. What is quite clear is that the pandemic has shown that businesses need to remain very conscious of their security. Applying a zero-trust approach towards security is essential for financial services that may experience the emerging threats from Covid-19.
Data is so valuable and represents the key to financial services. Applying this level of ‘distrust’ within security requires considerable detail about what your cyber-security is protecting and applying security controls close to your data. Those responsible and managing security should understand where all the data is stored, how it can be extracted and where it moves within the business.
Practical tips financial services can use to stay protected
Understanding what you have and where it goes is an important first step to implementing a zero-trust security plan. Beyond this knowledge is being capable of acting based on an accurate idea of your data.
Businesses should look beyond conventional approaches towards cybersecurity that aim at blocking systems. Instead, businesses must integrate a cyber-resilient approach that is automated and integrated into their working environment. Focusing on protection, detecting, responding and recovering cyber resilience must enable permanent business performance via the most efficient response and data recovery measures.
Three key areas that contribute to effective cyber-security in financial services
Encryption has existed for some time but remains an important tool for sensitive information that is stored in multiple locations or moving around regularly.
Location is an area that relies predominantly on your business understanding the location of your data and how it moves around. To keep data safe, several local and remote copies of critical files must be developed. This should be combined with systems capable of understanding the standard behaviour of data, so if a change in activity occurs, the response time can be immediate. Once security managers grasp this, they can determine the most appropriate method to classify data location and allow access correctly.
Access is generally focused on a transition to the mindset with data. For example the financial services industry as like many need to move away from giving employees access to all data just because they work at that particular business. Instead, data access should be prioritised as a privilege only granted to those when necessary. This is where the concept of zero-trust comes into play and security managers need to create a process of accepting data access based on several measures or personalising access based on the responsibility of each employee.
Security can become overwhelming especially with the rise of new data generated these days. It’s easy for many organisations to be playing catch up and not necessarily apply enough resources to this area. Financial services don’t have the strongest historical reputation in terms of data breaches but that doesn’t mean that a strong cyber-security model cannot be achieved.
Remaining vigilant, consistent data management and implementing an action plan based on insights and a zero-trust approach are needed for effective security in finance.