Cybersecurity in the Financial Services Industry

By Alfredo Rubina, Vice President of Financial Services at SoftServe, a digital consulting and advisory firm that provides innovative technology solutions for some of today’s biggest brands.

A growing number of financial institutions are migrating to the Cloud. According to Google Cloud research, 83% of financial industry executives said their organizations already used cloud technologies in some way. Despite this tremendous success, there’s a factor that is slowing down the process of cloud solutions growth. It’s a security concern as, nowadays, cybersecurity is a top priority in the financial services industry.

There are a few challenges concerning the topic. First, there are no standards for cloud security postures, and this can make banks doubt whether their data is properly protected when stored or processed in the cloud.  Second, there are no regulatory requirements to ease the compliance challenges banks may face while migrating to the cloud.

That’s why cloud providers are building security in many significant ways. One of them is a cloud firewall, a security solution that filters out potentially dangerous network traffic. This cloud-based firewall delivery method is also known as firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS). Traditional firewalls build a virtual barrier around an organization’s internal network, while cloud-based firewalls form a virtual barrier surrounding cloud platforms, infrastructure, and applications. To protect data from DDoS attacks, providers are using DDoS Protection Services that offer a cloud-based defense, with the most accurate detection and fastest time to protection against today’s most dynamic and constantly evolving DDoS threats. These cloud-based solutions are typically delivered as a software as a service (SaaS) offering and scale to provide complete protection, regardless of an organization’s size.

Key management systems (KMS) are another new security development. These entail the management of cryptographic keys in a cryptosystem. Cryptographic algorithms are used to generate keys, which are then encrypted and decrypted to supply the needed information securely, to achieve security in a system. Cloud key management refers to a service that is hosted on the cloud and allows users to handle symmetric and asymmetric cryptographic keys just like they would on-premises. A lot of innovation is happening from cybersecurity vendors that directly pertains to the utilization of the cloud – e.g., Bot Mitigation. These solutions apply automated, data-driven approaches to managing bots. The solution also applies behavioral analysis to detect anomalies in site-specific traffic, scoring every request on how different it is from the baseline.

The most common source of financial sector problems is malicious or criminal attacks. Financial gain was the most common purpose in data breaches across all industries, according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, with 71% of breaches being financially motivated. The spread of data theft or infiltrating networks at unprecedented size and speed might destabilize the financial service world. Fortunately, there are steps and procedures organizations can take to defend their companies against cyberattacks.

An appropriate antimalware solution

In the first quarter of 2021, phishing assaults were most prevalent in the financial sector. Phishing attacks in the banking industry grew by 22% in the first six months of 2021 compared to the same time in 2020. For the same time period, the number of attacks on financial apps climbed by 38%. Another threat is ransomware, which is a serious cyber threat to financial institutions. Ransomware criminals are attracted to the financial services business because of the valuable client information they have. Well-chosen software enables secure payments and accounts shared among third parties and affords greater flexibility in how money is managed at the company. Anti-ransomware solutions include using advanced mechanisms like monitoring popular ransomware activities to identify and stop these types of malware. Although security solutions are an important aspect of a layered defense, they are not a cure-all for cyber threats. It is recommended to have a well-planned complement of cybersecurity instruments to supplement the “human aspect” of cybersecurity.

Team awareness

By arming employees with knowledge of phishing scams and ransomware red flags, financial institutions can hedge their bets and reduce risks because the most common source of security breaches is human mistakes. When it comes to effective cybersecurity practices for financial institutions, security awareness training courses are crucial to company’s security.

Know vulnerabilities and monitor the threats

One of the most efficient strategies to limit companies’ attack surfaces is to address vulnerabilities. It must, however, be done on a regular basis and based on a vulnerability management workflow. Even if institutions merely run vulnerability checks on a regular basis, it’s not difficult for opportunistic attackers to gain access. Most data breaches are furtive. To remain persistent, hackers will attempt to cover their tracks once they’ve gained access to the company’s network. They get access by phishing for login credentials and then utilizing a variety of complex strategies to hide their activity.

Vulnerability management can be optimized by:

  • Smart prioritization: Fix what matters most, according to the company’s unique risk tolerance
  • Rapid and effective remediation management: Curate the best fix —be it a patch, configuration, or script, get the detailed step by step instructions, and send them to the right person
  • AI-driven automation: Turn a complex fixing process into a simple step-by-step workflow, then automate away all the tedious steps
  • Remediation analytics: Get the real-time visibility into the effectiveness and outcomes of the remediation campaigns

And the last, but certainly not the least, is the implementation of a formal security framework

The framework is a set of guidelines based on a basic pattern of cyber risk reduction. These guidelines give a mechanism for the financial industry to define a fundamental strategy, assess risks, develop complete security systems, and finally respond to hacker activity.

Cybersecurity in the Financial Services Industry

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