Today, financial institutions have much more to manage than their clients’ money. They must also manage their customers’ personally identifiable information securely and in accordance with an increasing number of regulations, data that makes this sector attractive and therefore more susceptible to the attention of cybercriminals.

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Michael Brown, Field CISO for Financial Services, Fortinet

Additionally, if a business does not maintain security standards in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, it could lose its ability to process credit card payments entirely.

The potential attack surface grows as financial institutions intensify their digital operations. A potential vulnerability exists with every Work Anywhere Login (WFA), service integration, and mobile app. By way of illustration, many US banks were hit with a combined $1.8 billion fine last year because staff members were using personal messaging apps for work-related purposes.

Financial institutions require complete cybersecurity solutions that include WFA capabilities, secure branch networks, and next-generation firewalls to adapt to today’s threat and regulatory landscape. These solutions must provide advanced threat prevention from the data center to the edge.

Real-world impacts of insufficient cybersecurity

We’ve seen it time and time again: cyberattacks can cause significant and sometimes irreparable damage. The concrete repercussions of insufficient cybersecurity can have a lasting impact and a ripple effect.

These include:

  • Data loss – Financial services organizations have highly sensitive and proprietary information that you don’t want bad actors getting their hands on, whether it’s investment portfolio information or personally identifiable information of customers, such as passwords and Social Security numbers .
  • Operational disruptions: Security teams often need to identify the source of the attack and assess the extent of the damage. And when a distributed denial-of-service attack occurs, the intent is to stop business as usual. Both scenarios result in a loss of productivity, both internal and external. Customers can’t access their money and employees can’t do their jobs.
  • Fines – In some cases, a company can be fined by multiple regulators for a single incident. He National Stock Market Commission and the New York State Department of Financial Services they have fined companies for issues such as inadequate disclosure controls and cybersecurity-related procedures.

Also, if the sanction includes the revocation of licenses or statutes you need to operate, one of your lines of business or even the entire company could be shut down for non-compliance.

Reputational damage: It can be quite difficult to recover once an organization has shown that it cannot protect its customers’ personal information. For example, years after the initial occurrence, the equifax non-compliance remains a cautionary tale.

Bolster the strategy with the right features

To ensure proactive cybersecurity and regulatory compliance, a well-managed solution from a trusted cybersecurity vendor can make all the difference. When choosing a solution, financial organizations should consider these aspects:

  • Cloud Capabilities – Due to the prevalence of hybrid and multi-cloud networks, many financial services companies need to collaborate with cybersecurity vendors that provide products that can operate natively in private and public cloud configurations. To provide consistent policy enforcement, solutions must work seamlessly across on-premises networks and cloud environments. Organizations should choose a cybersecurity vendor with a track record of innovating and providing scalable, affordable, and secure security solutions.
  • AI/ML and Automation – New cybersecurity risks emerge every day, and bad actors are increasingly taking advantage of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation. Likewise, these technologies should form part of the arsenal for defense against cyber attacks. Automation can help increase accuracy and decrease human error. Many cybersecurity vendors employ point solutions to patch vulnerabilities.
  • Seamless customer experience – In order for customers not to know that your cybersecurity solution is running in the background, it must be seamless. The solution must operate with the current architecture without placing excessive load on the network. Seconds count; if a customer can’t get online right away, they may go elsewhere to do their business.
  • Adaptability: Every milestone in the digital transformation journey must involve cybersecurity. Businesses require adaptable cybersecurity solutions as they shift their focus and enter cross-sector disciplines. Financial companies require reliable cybersecurity solutions when core elements of the business change or the network grows in unforeseen ways.

safely transform

Even as financial services organizations strive to better serve their customers through digital transformation, they are facing more and more sophisticated threats. As data multiplies at a frightening rate, organizations must keep that data secure and compliant. Failure to do so can result in fines and loss of reputation and even the entire business. Consider the above best practices when vetting cyber security vendors to ensure a secure and compliant business foundation.

Michael Brown, Field CISO for Financial Services at Fortinet, is a global security evangelist and advisor helping financial services companies implement digital transformation while improving security and resiliency. He specializes in cybersecurity regulations, ESG impact, SD-WAN, SD-Branch, Zero Trust, low latency e-commerce security, SASE, and multi-cloud solutions.

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