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Consolidation and integration of security solutions in Financial Services

The single biggest issue we keep hearing about from financial institutions is the need to simplify and consolidate their security infrastructure. As Financial Services has evolved from person-to-person transactions to the fully digital business model it is today, network infrastructure has had to evolve as well – which has led to it becoming increasingly more complex to defend. As new threats continue to emerge, financial organisations have purchased different security products, often from different vendors, as part of their overarching security infrastructure. There is a realisation now that there may have been some over-purchasing.

Some large financial services organisations have as many as 40 or more different security vendors inside their networks. These can include multiple firewalls, antivirus tools, intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems, web application firewalls, advanced threat protection tools to name a few. Every different product will have separate management systems, often with limited connectivity to work alongside others. These interoperability challenges can impede efforts to share cyber threat information across and between networks, thus slowing down response and remediation times. That is not to say that all security products must come from a single vendor. Even large security vendors that sell a vast portfolio of security solutions don’t provide all the pieces needed to deliver complete security coverage. Financial services organisations also gravitate towards best-of-breed solutions for each specific security issue they face, which results in multiple vendors in their security environment.

Regardless of the number of different vendors in their ecosystem, companies need to evaluate their security infrastructure to determine whether all of these solutions are even necessary. What organisations are finding is that many of these products complete identical tasks, thereby adding complexity with no beneficial effect on security.

For a lot of financial services organisations, the way forward in terms of their security is going to be consolidating their solutions in conjunction with doing a better job of integration. They need tie devices together, using shared communications and intelligence frameworks to enable communication between multiple vendor security systems. The benefits of this consolidation and integration are endless.

Reduction of Contradictory Policies

With so many different security products, organisations often end up with overlapping and conflicting solutions within their ecosystem. One device is telling you to do one thing, while another is telling you to do the complete opposite, and the two could end up cancelling each other out. This results in is the ironic situation of actually having more security devices in your network which actually makes it less secure.  Unifying solutions within a security fabric streamlines the management and orchestration of security tools and policies to avoid these types of conflicts.

Easier Management

Staying on top of so many different vendor products and their functions can prove to be a nightmare for any security team. It can take days to update all devices to protect them from a new malware or threat. Adds, moves, and changes to security devices can take weeks, with lots of manual intervention required to re-implement policy and ensure constant compliance.  

The good news for IT is that the management workload can be eased with fewer different security devices and management panes. Security changes can then be automated to flow through the network, saving time.

Reduced Costs

Cost savings as a benefit of consolidation may not be at the top of people’s minds for a simple reason: they’ve already made the security purchase. If it's hardware-based, they've bought the appliance. If it's software-based, they've purchased the license - it’s not like you can return them. But what is often overlooked is the cost of a security product doesn’t end at the purchase; much of it comes from the ongoing maintenance and service renewals. Once you’ve consolidated and eliminated the need for a product, you can also put an end to the renewal and service expenditures that go along with it.

Responding to threats

With so many disparate security technologies, it’s difficult to know if you truly have 100% visibility across your entire network. A huge challenge for financial services organisations is having to sift through separate reporting tools and management consoles to try and get the full picture of what is happening. This is how complex and sophisticated threats are able to remain inside a network for months without detection.

Consolidating within a cooperative security framework allows for a single management platform to monitor, manage, and orchestrate solutions across the entire distributed network. An integrated system such as this can automate the processing and analysis of threat information from multiple sources, and can quickly identify and mitigate network security threats. The identification, isolation, and analysis of suspicious files can even be automated. All of this, if done manually, is extremely labour-intensive and time-consuming.

As financial services organisations continue to transform, as will their networks and security needs. In order to keep up with the evolving complexity of today’s cyber threats, financial services organisations must simplify. By scaling down unnecessary, redundant security devices and integrating what remains within a single unified system, financial organisations can make their cybersecurity solutions more effective than ever.

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Paul Irvine

Paul Irvine

Director, Major Accounts UK&I

Fortinet

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28 Mar 2017

Location

London

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