Financial Firms: Steer Clear of These Common Security Shortfalls

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Financial Firms: Steer Clear of These Common Security ShortfallsFinancial firms are indeed quite rewarding targets for cybercriminals, should they successfully breach the security systems in place.

Not only do these firms serve as a source of unlimited funds but also sensitive personal data that can be used in different ways to maximise the rewards. Security shortfalls in an increasingly digitised business environment, especially when it comes to financial services, can prove quite devastating. Let’s understand some of such common shortfalls firms are plagued by.

Patch Management – What and Why?

Patching up flaws and vulnerabilities in software is an ongoing process that serves to boost firms’ security and reliability in an ever-evolving digital world. Software developers churn out several such patches as and when the need arises. Some of them may fix functional problems while yet others may address security threats posed by malware, hacks, etc. Patch management ensures that all such fixes and updates are systematically applied to existing systems to enhance their functionality as well as their resistance to newer cyber threats. This is indeed a demanding task that needs serious attention, for when ignored may result in a security breach.

Not all firms have technically qualified resources to handle patch management on their own or can spare the time and effort for applying patches. Signing up for IT managed services from trustworthy service providers is bound to take the pinch off the task. These service providers meticulously keep track of the different software patches, understand their priorities and apply them promptly to ward off any potential security threats.

Social Engineering & User Training – What Difference Can These Make?

Social engineering has today evolved into a security threat that can quite persuasively get people to divulge sensitive information even without them realising it. From personal particulars to proprietary company details, people are tricked to reveal information which most often translate into security/data breaches that are financially motivated. Not even the best of security software can eliminate social engineering exploits. Malware planted via email attachments and phishing attacks are typical social engineering tactics. Employees must learn to identify and avoid such potential threats.

Training the entire workforce on the prevalent/imminent threats and how best they can tackle them is important to tide over this threat. This again should be an ongoing process as there is always a new threat lurking around. A strict taboo on writing down passwords or using a storage device without ascertaining its ownership can go a long way in minimising data loss or theft.

  • Social attacks were utilised in 43% of all breaches
  • Almost all phishing attacks that led to a breach were followed with some form of malware
  • 66% of malware was installed via malicious email attachments
  • 73% of breaches were financially motivated

These statistics demonstrate the incredible impact of social engineering tactics by hackers today, and we see no signs of a slowdown.

Risk Management and Governance – How Crucial Are They?

Good internal governance is the key to ensure that the firm functions in an effective manner. Top management must ensure well-defined processes, efficient operations and systematic audits either by direct supervision or by delegating the job to qualified employees/teams. Incidents of cyber threats are better tackled when they are periodically audited, assessed and addressed suitably to avoid costly losses.

Securing IT infrastructure is not possible without thoroughly assessing the risks involved and formulating a suitable plan to address each specific threat. It is ideal to first define the risk appetite of the company and devise the necessary course of action to control the impact of risks accordingly. From securing data and access to ensuring compliance, integrity and continuity of business operations, risk management must address all potential risks that the firm may be exposed to when its IT system is compromised. Comparing impact of actual risks against the risk appetite baseline will help ascertain the adequacy of the risk management plans and refine them accordingly.

It is common for companies to usually appoint a chief technology officer (CTO) to manage IT operations. A dedicated incidence response team under the leadership of a security in-charge must ideally be in place to detect and address security breaches on a war footing. Team strength, however, can vary based on the scale and nature of operations.

Make sure to watch out and steer clear of these common shortfalls that often prove quite damaging.

There is no doubt that protecting critical assets should be one of the top priorities for any business. As threats and dangers continue to evolve, these methods will constantly improve.

By Kieran Fallon of IT Force.