The financial services sector is tasked with satisfying an experience-obsessed market moving rapidly toward digital currency. But challenges like customer service experience expectations, privacy requirements, and the increasing threat of cybercrime make digital modernization easier said than done.
Outdated systems and stringent industry regulations are widely experienced barriers to modernization for financial organizations worldwide, and modern consumers with high experience standards are just as unwavering in their expectation for utmost security, privacy, and confidentiality.
Under these circumstances, digital modernization can feel overwhelming. As a cybersecurity professional of over 30 years, and with a specialty in financial service, my advice is this: build your digital transformation on the back of a strong cybersecurity strategy.
A proactive and robust cybersecurity strategy won’t only help defend against cyberattacks; it’ll safeguard your growth, success, and reputation, empower your organization’s modernization journey, and unlock customer experience down the road.
So, what does a strong cybersecurity strategy look like?
The Anatomy of a Strong Cybersecurity Strategy
1. Vulnerability Management: The nature of financial data is incredibly sensitive, meaning security is always high stakes; the Equifax breach case study underscores the cruciality of effective vulnerability management as part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Organizations should inventory known vulnerabilities and assess their weakness potential across the board before automating regular vulnerability scans for applications, devices, and third-party services with the ability to deploy timely patching operations.
2. Third-Party Risk Management: Financial organizations rely on third party vendors like mortgage lenders, credit card companies, overdraft protection agencies, auditors, brokers, and insurance companies to maximize their service offerings without breaking the bank. But supply chain attacks pose a significant threat, and hackers target these points of data exchange as a known vulnerability. By establishing a third-party cyber risk management program, organizations can assess risks, identify critical vendors, and categorize them based on data access levels to mitigate the damage of potential third-party breaches.
3. Incident Response Plan: In the digital age, security breach is not a matter of “if”, but “when”; that’s why a well-structured incident response plan is crucial. Having these steps in place can minimize damage, costs, and recovery time. A dedicated Security Incident Response Team should define risk tolerance and outline response procedures. Response procedures should always include well-defined responsibilities, place an emphasis on great communication, and spell out the next steps for post breach event assessment.
4. Threat Monitoring: Continuous, 24/7 monitoring of networks, endpoints, and devices is essential to detect anomalous activities and preempt cyberattacks. Financial organizations should consider building a SOC or investing in virtual SOC monitoring services for full-coverage identity threat and response (IDTR) protection. Real-time visibility into data access and usage creates opportunities to enforce data protection policies and bolster security posture.
5. Employee Education: Research shows that 88 percent of organizational data breaches are caused by human error; education is key to ensuring employees don’t click that link or transfer those funds. By educating staff about phishing, social engineering, and best security practices, organizations can mitigate risks arising from user vulnerability. Organizations should implement a clear cybersecurity policy, make cybersecurity practices an open-ended conversation in the workplace, and leverage training programs as a part of this effort.
Implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy helps satisfy market expectations, builds trust with customers, protects your brand’s reputation, and moves you forward in your digital modernization journey. For financial organizations eager to navigate the digital realm confidently, this is where to begin.
Arun Shrestha has over 20 years of building and leading enterprise software and services companies. As CEO, Arun is committed to building a world class organization with its mission to help our customers build secure, agile and future-proof business. Arun prides in partnering with customers to strategize and deploy cutting edge technology that delivers top business results. Prior to co-founding BeyondID, Arun held executive positions at Oracle, Sun Microsystems, SeeBeyond and most recently Okta, which went public in 2017. At Okta, Arun was responsible for delighting customers and for building world class services and customer success organizations. At Oracle and Sun Microsystems, Arun led global services and support organizations for systems and software including Java, SOA, Identity Management platforms. Arun brings years of delivering modern IT solutions related to Identity, API and Cloud to global customers across Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. Arun earned his BS in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from Graceland University, Iowa.