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Paul Irvine

Cybersecurity in FS

Paul Irvine - Fortinet

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Information Security

Information Security

The risks from Cyber cime - Hacking - Loss of Data Privacy - Identity Theft and other topical threats - can be greatly reduced by implementation of robust IT Security controls ...

4 Cybersecurity Crunch Points Facing the Financial Services Sector

28 April 2017  |  12142 views  |  0

It’s well known that the main trends currently driving change within the technology sector are the cloud, internet of things, mobility and big data analytics. While advances in digital business are simplifying and enhancing life for the consumers of financial services, organisations are faced with the challenge of these trends’ impact on the makeup and footprint of their security solutions.

In order to be successful and stay competitive, financial services organisations need to ensure they have an architecture and strategy in place to support these trends. This strategy must look to address four common crunch points to prosper:

  • Automation
  • Control
  • Consolidation
  • Flexibility


Within today’s virtualised environments, organisations are constantly adding, changing and moving devices and users. While workflows are automatically rerouted between dynamically-shifting resources in a matter of minutes, security struggles to keep up. The lag results from outdated, complex security procedures being implemented by hand. IT security teams simply can’t keep up with the policy changes that dynamically shifting networks require. And unfortunately, humans are also prone to making mistakes. This machine vs. human dynamic can lead to within an organisation’s security, as changes that can take seconds or minutes for a network infrastructure could take hours or days for security teams.

To make matters worse, by the time manual configuration changes to firewalls, policies, and endpoints are made, it’s likely that the network has undergone yet another change, and security updates are further delayed.


Gartner has predicted that the number of connected things in use (worldwide) will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. As the number of devices increases, so does the attack surface. This exponential growth is proving to be quite the headache for many CIOs, as they often struggle with knowing how and where to deploy security solutions.

Do they focus their security efforts on more endpoint protection? Are cyber-attacks entering the ecosystem at the software-defined perimeter? Does traffic need to be segmented internally? What about cloud applications or IaaS –to what extent does my security accommodate these? These are all questions that are being frequently asked across the industry.


As financial services organisations deploy security devices into the stack, another challenge presents itself. How do they take the sheer mass of data and turn it into actionable intelligence? As new devices are added, so too are additional reporting tools and management consoles, leaving the CIO and their teams frustrated with the lack of a holistic view of what’s happening across the network.

Gathering intelligence and thwarting advanced threats in a complex, multi-vendor security environment is often reduced to hand-correlating data and manual threat analysis, which is obviously time intensive. Which is why it’s quite common for advanced threats to sit within a compromised network for months without being detected. It’s important to remember: Operational complexity, even when it involves security devices, often works in the favour of the attacker.


One of the benefits of the cloud is that it allows financial organisations to be more flexible in order to scale their offerings with demand. This has pushed the challenge of consistent security beyond the tipping point. The question is no longer, “do we make the move to the cloud?” It’s now, “do we adopt a public, private, hybrid, or mixed deployment?” And issues around security play a role in that answer.

This decision is partly determined by the scale of organisation’s existing infrastructure. But, it’s also a prioritisation of what infrastructure is less critical and can therefore be in the public cloud (cheaper) vs. critical areas that need to be stored in a private cloud (more expensive). Further, since there is often a disconnect between cloud and on-premise security solutions, organisations must evaluate how much they value visibility and control over the data that exists in public cloud.

The cloud is an attractive target for hackers due to organizations’ demand for flexibility, the amount of sensitive financial data that is now being hosted in cloud environments, and the gap between cloud and network security intelligence.

These trends are not likely to change any time soon, and unless security is reengineered, the ongoing disruption to the legacy security blueprint will continue. Gone are the days of point products being the answer to security challenges. An effective security solution needs to dynamically expand and adapt as more and more workloads and data are added, and at the same time, seamlessly follow and protect data, users, and applications as they move back and forth between IoT, smart devices, and cloud environments throughout the network. 


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