As the guardians of huge amounts of money and sensitive client information, financial institutions (FIs) have always been on the front lines of the battle against cyber threats. The stakes are incredibly high for FIs, as the fallout from a single cyberattack can result in financial losses, legal penalties, and irreparable damage to their reputation.
IBM X-Force research indicates that in 2021, 70% of attacks against FI organizations targeted banks, 16% targeted insurance companies, and 14% targeted other financial institutions. As financial institutions face a growing number of cybersecurity threats, it’s crucial to ensure that proper measures are in place to protect against potential attacks. This article will discuss the top cybersecurity measures that every financial department should implement.
Top Cybersecurity Measures Every Financial Department Should Implement
Data security measures will vary according to the data you collect, how it is obtained, and how much you collect. If you are new to this business and need to increase your security immediately, implement these six best practices immediately.
Internal Infrastructure Audit
To better protect your network and remain compliant with data privacy rules, we advise doing a quarterly assessment of your network architecture to detect security holes and develop a plan for enhancing network security.
This procedure, also known as a network assessment, should uncover practices that place your company in danger of violating data privacy requirements. This may entail assessing your data privacy architecture, including backups, data breach reporting systems, and data deletion processes.
Inform Personnel About Cyber Security
Cyber Security education fosters an environment that values cyber security among employees, reducing the likelihood that recruits will become a threat to the company’s internal security. Instructional procedures may be as basic as requiring new hires to read and complete a test on an educational booklet during their first week on the job or implementing password standards that standardize best practices for setting account logins.
Producing a monthly corporate cyber security newsletter may be an instructive and interesting approach to continuously educate your staff about the most recent cyber security dangers and to provide online safety recommendations.
Using penetration testing is another entertaining method for gauging your workers’ cyber security knowledge. Penetration testing aims to determine whether workers fall for a phishing assault by clicking on bogus links or downloading fraudulent files. If staff fall victim to these phishing tactics, you may provide them with further cyber security training. We advise doing this test quarterly.
Conduct Deep Web Searches
Imagine if important business files were posted to the dark web. Hackers upload these files for sale on the dark web because they often include valuable private information such as credit card details. This may lead to financial fraud, data breaches, and other bad financial outcomes.
Dark web scanning software could help prevent future data breaches by scanning the dark web for private corporate data that may exist there. A scan may reveal the credentials of any employee email account that has been publicly accessible. As a general rule, companies should undertake yearly scans of the dark web to determine which security vulnerabilities must be fixed.
Automate and Secure Billing Processes
One of the primary functions of financial departments is billing and revenue management. However, traditional billing processes can be vulnerable to cyber attacks, such as payment fraud or data breaches. Implementing an automated billing system can help reduce the risk of these attacks by improving the accuracy and security of financial transactions.
Implementing an automated billing system can help finance departments streamline their billing processes and reduce the likelihood of errors that may occur during manual data entry. Automated billing systems like OneBill software can also provide additional layers of security to financial transactions through encryption, multi-factor authentication, and other security features. By automating billing processes, businesses can also reduce the risk of insider threats, as access to sensitive financial data can be restricted to authorized personnel only. Additionally, automated billing systems can help businesses stay compliant with financial regulations, which can help avoid costly penalties and legal issues.
Control Third-Party Dangers
Businesses today deploy multiple applications, providing attackers with numerous opportunities to exploit system vulnerabilities. Any security endpoint, including applications that IT or the security team is unaware of, raises the risk of cyber threats. Thus, patching these endpoints is crucial for maintaining the security of networks.
Gartner predicts that in 2020, about 30% of cyber threats will emerge from shadow IT resources and the Internet of Things, exposing companies to unknown vulnerabilities and threats. Given that most employees access the network through mobile devices or integrated software, it may be difficult to identify all of a company’s security flaws. However, companies can monitor system/software environment changes and prioritize vulnerabilities to manage risks.
Furthermore, outsourcing critical tasks to third-party service providers has become increasingly prevalent, particularly in decentralized fintech. Each interaction with a vendor, supplier, or partner poses a significant risk to personal information. To mitigate third-party risks, companies need to safeguard financial data using a secure architecture and security standards, restrict third-party access to data, and set security postures with their suppliers. Companies should maintain transparent and amicable connections with third-party partners, who may be subject to security and regulatory audits.
Network segmentation is another best practice that allows companies to restrict access to sensitive areas and isolate potentially hazardous endpoints into separate clusters.
Employing Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
In recent years, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) has emerged as an alternative to VPNs. While VPNs are affordable and effective for stopping unauthorized access, eavesdropping, and data theft and are useful cybersecurity tools for financial institutions seeking to protect sensitive information, they have some limitations and disadvantages.
According to the Zero Trust philosophy, companies should not trust anything within or outside their network unless it is proven that they can. Further, access should be granted based on “need to know” and the least privileged criteria.
ZTNA defends against the possible security risks associated with assuming everything inside a network to be secure. When businesses trust systems and software without question, they expose themselves to the possibility of cyber attacks. Zero Trust Network Access is now one of the most prominent security frameworks in the business, despite its complexity and implementation burden. ZTNA guarantees that users may connect securely to private apps without exposing them to the network or the Internet.
We can implement the following fundamental principles of Zero Trust Network Access in a company’s network:
- Constant monitoring and validation – Users and devices must be continually re-verified with regular login and connection expiration.
- Least advantage – Users are granted the necessary access, reducing exposure to vulnerable network components.
- Device access control – Rigorous restrictions on device access reduce the network’s attack surface.
- Micro segmentation – Dividing security perimeters into tiny zones to maintain separate network access for distinct components.
- Preventing lateral displacement – Zero Trust is intended to prevent attackers from moving laterally inside a network after acquiring access.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) – Multiple pieces of evidence is required to authenticate a user, such as a password and a code delivered to a mobile device.
Financial institutions must remain vigilant and proactive in the face of the growing number of cyber threats. As guardians of sensitive information and large sums of money, FIs face high stakes in the event of a single cyber-attack. To mitigate the risks of cyber threats, every financial department should implement these top cybersecurity measures. These measures include conducting an internal infrastructure audit, educating personnel about cyber security, conducting deep web searches, controlling third-party dangers, automating and securing billing processes, and employing Zero Trust Network Access. By implementing these measures, financial institutions can effectively safeguard against the constantly evolving threat landscape and protect their reputation, clients, and bottom line.