How a Strong Cybersecurity Program Protects Your Financial Services Business

The financial services industry is a prime target for cybercriminals. Your firm handles large amounts of sensitive customer data and transactions on a daily basis.  

A recent Deloitte survey of financial services businesses reports that “Two out of three {people} surveyed have experienced between one and 10 cyber incidents or breaches between 2020 and 2021. It only takes one incident to potentially cripple an organization and bring reputational, financial, or operational havoc.” 

A strong cybersecurity program is essential to protecting your data from being compromised. 

There are steps that financial services firms like yours can take to fortify defenses against cyberattacks.  

Before we get to a list of ways to improve your cybersecurity posture, let’s consider some of the IT security challenges facing many organizations within the financial services industry. 

Detection and Control Mechanisms for WFA Workflows 

Workflow security is essential for the financial services industry. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases of cyber criminals breaching firms’ systems and stealing customer data. A well-designed workflow can help to prevent this type of attack by providing detection and control mechanisms that can identify and stop suspicious activity. 

There are several ways to design a workflow security system. One common approach is to use a “whitelist” of approved activities. This means that only activities that are on the whitelist are allowed to take place. Any other activity is automatically flagged as suspicious and can be investigated or stopped. 

Another approach is to use “blacklist” of known malicious activities. This can be used to stop suspicious activity before it takes place. 

It is important to note that new types of attacks are constantly being developed, so this approach needs to be regularly updated in order to be effective. Whitelisting and blacklisting are quickly becoming less effective. As cybercriminals get more advanced, it is apparent that your firm will need to implement Endpoint Detection and Response to spot and address zero-day malicious activities.  

Legacy Systems Replacement and/or Fortification 

The Deloitte survey mentioned earlier further notes that “It is time to retire legacy systems to pave the way for the latest tools and technologies in order to provide effective online and mobile services and differentiate yourself in the marketplace.” 

The financial services industry is heavily reliant on legacy systems. While these systems may be stable and well-tested, they can also be a weak point when it comes to security.  

One way to mitigate the risk posed by legacy systems is to segment your network. This means creating separate networks for different parts of your business. For example, you might have a separate network for customer data, another for employee data, and one for financial transactions. By segmenting your network, you can limit the damage that can be done in the event of a successful attack. 

Another way to protect legacy systems is to use “sandboxing”. This involves running legacy systems in a secure environment where they can be isolated from the rest of the network. This makes it much harder for attackers to gain access to sensitive data. 

Stop-Gap IT Measures Introduced During the Pandemic Strengthened or Eliminated 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of changes in the way that the financial services industry operates. One of the most significant changes has been the introduction of stop-gap IT measures, which allows firms to deal with the initial onset of pandemic restrictions and then to continue operating remotely. 

These stop-gap IT measures were often less secure than the systems that they were replacing. This is because they were usually introduced quickly and without adequate testing.  

Firms need to be aware of the risks posed by stop-gap IT measures and take steps to mitigate them. One way to do this is to carry out regular security audits to identify any weaknesses in the system so that they can be addressed. 

Another way to mitigate the risk is to use “least privilege” principles, allowing only those who need access to the stop-gap measures to have access credentials. This will help to limit the damage that can be done if the system is compromised. 

Addressing Ongoing IT Security Deficiencies Unique to the Financial Services Industry 

Lack of Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training 

In order to combat the unique cybersecurity threats faced by the financial services industry, employee cybersecurity awareness training is essential. This type of training helps employees to understand the risks posed by cybercriminals and the steps that they can take to protect themselves and the firm. 

Cybersecurity awareness training should be an ongoing process that is regularly updated. This is because new threats are constantly emerging, and employees need to be kept up to date with the latest information. 

Lack of Improved Budgets for Cybersecurity  

IT budgets should include adequate funding for increased cybersecurity measures in order to combat the unique cybersecurity threats faced by the financial services industry. These threats are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, so firms need to invest in the latest security technologies and solutions. 

Cybersecurity is an important part of any business, but it is especially critical for financial services firms. This is because of the sensitive nature of the data that they deal with. If this data were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be used to commit fraud or other crimes. 

Investing in adequate cybersecurity measures will help to protect the firm from these threats and keep its data safe. It will also help to build customer trust and confidence in the firm. 

In Summary – Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture 

  • Limit Unwanted Activity – Whitelisting, Blacklisting, Endpoint Detection and Response 
  • Separate Sensitive Databases – Segment Networks and Sandboxing 
  • Proactively Examine Systems – Security Audits 
  • Restrict Access – Least Privilege Principles applied to access 
  • Train Employees – Employee Cybersecurity Awareness Training 

Thinking it’s time to fortify your financial services firm’s cybersecurity defense system? Cooperative Systems is the team that can get the job done for you. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive cybersecurity services. We look forward to serving you.