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Cybersecurity in Financial Services: Compliance and Reducing Complexity with Automation

Businesses in the financial services sector have to manage enormous risk, wealth and personally identifiable information (PII), all while meeting strict regulatory requirements. With pressure mounting on compliance and data protection, financial services organizations are becoming increasingly motivated to improve their cybersecurity preparation, response and resilience across the sector.

According to Allianz’s ‘Financial Services – Risk Trends’ report, attacks against the financial sector increased 238% globally from the beginning of February 2020 to the end of April, with 80% of financial institutions reporting an increase in cyberattacks. Organizations within the sector are connected with brokers, fund managers, insurers and lenders. Combined, these factors make financial services organizations a prime target for cybercrime.

Ransomware, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and phishing attacks remain the most common threats for financial services, but the methods in the threat landscape are evolving. Suppliers and partners are being used by attackers in a new method of ‘Island Hopping’, attackers infiltrate the route into an organization by disguising themselves as a trusted source. Research by Carbon Black, shows that 33% of financial institutions have experienced a form of Island Hopping in the past 12 months. Watering Hole attacks and Ransom DDoS are other common evolving threats.

As the proliferation of financial data continues to grow, organizations face the task of continuously protecting that information and keeping it secure, while maintaining a reputation in the financial sector. Despite this, many security teams lack the resources and funding to keep up with the evolving threat landscape and ecosystem of regulatory compliance rules.


The Complexity of Complying

For financial services organizations, cybersecurity is about minimising risk for both the customers and the business. This includes compliance, it is vital financial services organizations reduce the possibility of further fines or other penalties by implementing the correct security and data protection measures in the event of a breach, for example GDPR. However, this is a complex and expensive process which many businesses find challenging.

There is a growing requirement for organizations in the financial sector to detect and respond to weaknesses in authorizations that could put banks, payment transfer systems and financial data at risk. However, security teams often lack the resources to flag these rapidly, resulting in detrimental impact to multiple parties.

On top of this, Security Operation Centre (SOC) teams are often attempting to mitigate threats manually, increasing effort and stress. Security teams need to eliminate the time spent writing scripts, building rules and creating reports to allow more focus to be on evolving attacks.


Automating Processes for Financial Security

Harnessing the correct tools and improving capabilities is becoming essential with the evolving threat landscape and new technologies that transfer, process, store, and interact with financial data.

Security teams need a proactive strategy to provide holistic visibility into their networks and improve detection and response capabilities. By addressing cybersecurity regulations with a preconfigured compliance automation software, security and data protection compliance rules are simplified into a single process.

Implementing prebuilt content which is specifically mapped to the individual controls of each regulation enables instant results that do the heavy lifting for you. This type of system can help SOC teams stay on top of financial data safely while quickly navigating threats and intrusions across endpoints.

Utilising the right software will allow security teams to detect compliance violations automatically, with real-time visibility, which can deliver higher productivity, reliability, availability, increased performance, and reduced operating costs. 

Combining compliance automation software with a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) gives security teams the resources to comply with necessary mandates more efficiently and effectively than previous manual processes. A SIEM platform can facilitate security teams to improve detection, mitigation and response capabilities.

Furthermore, automation systems allow workflows to be more streamlined to help security teams combat evolving threats by removing manual tasks and enriching data with contextual details consistently.


An Expanding Compliance Environment

Looking forward, the financial sector is expected to face continued vulnerabilities in its technological offerings, both online and traditional brick and mortar. Organizations are expected to centralize fraud and risk operations to increase visibility and detection capabilities. With compliance automation systems at the forefront of SOC teams, patterns of fraudulent activity will be detected at a greater rate, increasing the likelihood of mitigation before impact.

The compliance environment can only extend further, with more regulatory requirements coming into play. Security teams need to act now, to ensure a standard model is in place which will allow them to grow with this expansion. Financial organizations should be prepared for stricter security rules becoming a necessity to protecting both customer and business data.




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