4 ways to improve cyber security for financial services in 2021

08 March 2021

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4 ways to improve cyber security for financial services in 2021

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Cyber security for financial services has been under greater threat since the beginning of the pandemic, with COVID-19 uncovering a number of weaknesses in both the security and technical infrastructure throughout the industry.

The financial arena has been one of the worst affected, with the pandemic being connected to a huge 238% surge in cyberattacks against the sector.

As a consequence of housing the most sensitive data, financial institutions are highly appealing to hackers, and the advancement of technology is resulting in more complex cyberattacks. Even if unsuccessful, a cyberattack can lead to the disruption of usual corporate activities, harm business reputation or cause financial loss.

Cyber attacks and data breaches are multidimensional, so it is crucial that your company’s cyber security is in place at all levels, with a strong first line of defence, robust operational management and well-educated employees.

To tackle infringements and hacks, your company will need to identify all devices and systems that could be subject to cyber-attacks and should determine all possible impacts on business objectives and operations.

Now more than ever, businesses must make it a priority to learn how to improve cyber security within their organisations. Here at Ideagen, we have compiled a list of the top tips to help you do so:

Invest in cyber security training and education for your employees.

One of the top weaknesses within the cyber security of the finance industry is unintentional employee errors, and the pandemic has accentuated this problem further. With remote working now becoming the norm, employees are potentially working with sensitive data in a less secure home-based environment.

Locking data down securely behind a corporate firewall has now been rendered moot, making data more readily accessible to hackers. Despite more complex cyber-attacks, far too many digital break-ins are down to simple employee mishaps. For example, phishing, a technique used to deceive employees with fake emails, dubious website links and messaging.

Often, staff do not receive sufficient training on how to recognise and avoid cyberattacks, making them more susceptible to deception. The causes of employee error are diverse, which means that eliminating it from your organisation can be a challenging task.

However, with Q-pulse WorkRite, employees can take CPD-accredited training courses such as Mobile Worker Safety Awareness Training, aimed at educating and informing staff on a wide range of subjects including DSE regulations, legislation and data security, and personal safety.

Enact basic cyber hygiene

Along with educating and training the entire workforce, there are simple but effective procedures you can put in place to enact basic cyber hygiene to protect and maintain IT systems and devices.

In the same way that good personal hygiene helps maintain a healthy body, good cyber hygiene practices keep computer systems vigorous and up to date. It is also an essential tool for complying with frameworks such as the National Institute of Standard’s Technology Cyber Security Framework and ISO 27002/1.

Keeping software updated and removing any unsupported software is crucial. Strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, secure WIFI and limiting the number of users with administrative privileges are all factors that will improve your company’s cyber hygiene.

Backing up data to a secondary source such as a reputable cloud service will ensure safety in the event of a breach or error.

Finally, invest in cyber risk insurance. We insure our lives, homes and pets, so why not our online data? Cyber insurance coverage can be your professional protection in the likelihood of a breach or cyberattack occurring.

Protect your data in transit

Data is less secure when in motion, so transferring data from network to network such as across the internet or onto a cloud storage device without any protection can leave your business vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Businesses need to protect their data in transit by implementing multiple controls. There are several different methods to safeguarding data in transit, but encryption plays a crucial role. Your financial business will need to meet organisational, legal, and compliance requirements when it comes to encryption.

Due to this, organisations often choose to encrypt sensitive data before transmitting it. Implement secure browsing with extensions such as HTTPS Everywhere - a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsing extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites. The secure web protocol enabled by Secure Sockets Laye and Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) ensures that the entire user experience is safe from online threats.

Implement incident management

Robust incident management allows you to move quickly and coordinate better responses to incidents. Knowing the key threats to your organisation means that money and time are spent in the right places.

A security incident management system allows you to determine, assess and analyse cyber risks in order to mitigate any future incidents. Assessing the risk level of each type of attack on each device or system category is vital. If you do not manage incidents your business is left exposed to threats.

Pentana Risk allows your business to plan, exercise and prepare for incidents of all categories. Utilising workflows, templates and default actions to ensure a consistent approach to feedback and incidents, whilst automatically escalating unresolved incidents to the right people for a quick resolution.

Our risk software allows you to profile complaints and incidents to easily investigate patterns and avoid recurrence, making sure necessary service improvements actually happen by linking to actions.

Next steps

Cyber security for financial services is a crucial concern for 2021 and the process of protecting your data can seem daunting. Start by ensuring all staff within your business are educated to a high standard. Q-pulse WorkRite delivers a wide range of CPD accredited training courses to educate and inform employees on cyber security issues, ensuring the safety of your company’s first line of defence. 

Andy Gascoine.jpg
Written by

Andy Gascoigne

Andy has been Head of Cyber Security at Ideagen for two years. He is responsible for monitoring, detecting, containing and remediation of IT threats across applications, services, devices, systems, networks, and locations.

Andy has designed and implemented Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) from a technical and risk management/compliance perspective, promoting a security-centric culture within Ideagen. 

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