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Recognising and Preventing Multi-Cloud Security Risks Within the Financial Services Sector

 

The past few years have seen cloud adoption soar as organisations have begun to fully understand the benefits that the cloud can offer in terms of storage, flexibility, scalability and cost savings. Within the financial sector, according to KPMG, shifting back-office functions to the cloud allows banks to achieve savings of between 30 and 40 per cent.

As a result, financial services institutions are increasingly adopting the public cloud, and are implementing multi-cloud strategies in order to add a level of redundancy to their cloud service usage. This translates into the ability to meet consumer expectations, reduce costs, and avoid unnecessary lock-in with cloud vendors.

However, moving data to the cloud means that it is stored on off-site servers rather than on-premise under the watchful eye of financial IT teams who have implemented industry-specific security controls. Financial services institutions manage valuable data – a lucrative target for cybercriminals. In order to maintain an effective security posture that extends into the cloud, financial institutions need the capability to merge their siloed cloud security controls into one comprehensive information security infrastructure where consistent security policies can be enforced and easily managed. 

 

The growing risk to multi-cloud cybersecurity in the Financial Services sector

One of the biggest challenges multi-cloud environments have introduced to the security posture of financial institutions is the isolated cloud environments found within networks. With every added cloud-based application, infrastructure, or software service, the number of potential entryways into the organisation’s network that cybercriminals can exploit increases. With these disparate multi-cloud environments comes a variety of obstacles for IT teams to tackle:

  • Limited visibility:  An effective security posture requires broad visibility into the entire multi-cloud network. Without a comprehensive view into the variety of clouds accessing a financial service’s network, cybersecurity personnel are forced to monitor each cloud individually, taking up valuable time that could be used elsewhere.
  • Coordinating security efforts: In today’s complex cybersecurity landscape, IT professionals need to coordinate their security efforts across the network—from threat analysis to breach containment and repair. When multi-cloud security is siloed, cybersecurity efforts have to be manually carried out across each disparate cloud environment, limiting their response times and efficiency.
  • Inefficient threat analysis: In order to properly maintain an effective security posture, IT teams need to understand the threats across their network, so as to expose attack vectors and their subsequent solutions. However, disparate cloud solutions acting as digital point products add complexity to an already sophisticated IT environment, forcing cybersecurity professionals to individually analyse each cloud.

 

A three-pronged approach to minimising cyber risk

By unifying siloed multi-cloud environments with additional virtual and physical network elements, cybersecurity teams within the financial services sector can gain broad visibility and protection across the attack surface, leading to rapid advanced threat detection and automated threat response and breach mitigation.

Additionally, it’s important that IT professionals maintain a number of best practices when actively securing multi-cloud environments, including:

  • Establishing endpoint security: Given the potential entryway provided by cloud endpoint, as well as the number of IoT consumers now expecting to have ready access to financial networks through mobile apps, having the ability to gain visibility into these endpoints can help prevent compromised devices from entering the network. As financial services organisations continue to shift toward cloud-based solutions, they should ensure that IoT or BYOD devices connecting to the network adhere to organisational security protocols so as to effectively mitigate potential breaches.
  • Securing applications: Cybercriminals have long focused on attacking applications hosted in the cloud. Combined with endpoint security, the applications those endpoints use need system controls and advanced threat protection capabilities that can identify known and unknown vulnerabilities and prevent them from being successfully exploited.
  • Extending network segmentation to the cloud: Financial services organisations utilising cloud services need to ensure that private, hybrid, and public clouds are deploying effective network segmentation that can control access and limit the probability of malware attacks spreading across siloed clouds. If a threat were to successfully gain entryway into a network, segmentation also ensures that the amount of data compromised is limited to one segment.

 

Financial services organisations are increasingly adopting public cloud and transitioning toward a multi-cloud environment to better meet the demands of consumers and streamline business processes. As adoption grows in this critical space, however, cybercriminals continue to search for new ways to find and exploit vulnerabilities – which is why financial services organisations must deploy in-depth security measures to cover the proliferation of endpoint devices, free-ranging applications, and multi-cloud infrastructures themselves.

Traditional security solutions are simply no longer sufficient to protect a digital-dependent organisation. The threat of cloud-based malware means that in order to effectively secure both cloud solutions and network integrity, network elements need to be combined into a unified security fabric that can secure endpoints and clouds, while adding effective segmentation across the physical and digital network elements.

 

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