3 Cyber Security Principles Financial Firms Must Follow

Cyber Security Principles Financial Firms Must Follow

Security has always been paramount in the financial world. Financial companies have long stored sensitive data, pushing them to the cutting edge of cyber security. Now more than ever, financial institutions must prioritize cyber security thanks to the varied ways in which malicious actors seek to breach their defenses.

Cyber security in finance is a central product feature these days but is challenging to incorporate. The digital nature of every financial app has expanded reach but given attackers more ways to undermine security.

With this in mind, here are three basic app security principles every financial company must follow to secure itself from security breaches.

Monitor Access Points

Cyber security can be intimidating when first approached due to its wide range and variety. To a newbie, cyber security is replete with abbreviations and endless jargon. However, you can simplify this jargon by understanding which points of your infrastructure those abbreviations cover.

Endpoint detection and response or EDR is a common cyber security term. These platforms and software protect your network’s access points. In short, they verify which entities are accessing your network and validate their activity for malicious behavior.

Some examples of EDR applications include firewalls and access controls. However, EDR is much more than installing a platform and forgetting about it. Instead, it’s best to think of it as a principle. Always enforce access controls and automate network activity monitoring. Using zero trust or ZT philosophy is best when validating access credentials.

Per ZT principles, everyone accessing your network must prove who they are and use that access for a defined period. This principle reduces the potential for malicious activity. Even if a malicious attacker gains access, they’ll have far less time to inflict damage thanks to ZT’s time-based access controls.

Data encryption is another core endpoint protection principle. Encryption makes data unreadable to an entity that does not possess security keys. The trick is to encrypt data at rest (when it is stored in your servers) and in motion (when it is transmitted from one application to another.)

While EDR won’t eliminate every security threat, it goes a long way toward minimizing them and places you in a stronger position.

Examine Infrastructure Sprawl

Modern financial companies use a vast network of servers, cloud containers, and microservices. This environment is largely automated. Add development teams working in tight sprints to release code quickly and security becomes challenging.

Unfortunately, most financial companies treat security as an IT task and relegate it to the back office. The result is critical security fixes are delayed thanks to byzantine approval processes that the business side of the company does not fully understand.

Bringing security to the front office is critical given the risk of a breach. Once this is done, examine your infrastructure and trim the fat. The average financial company has layers of infrastructure patched on top of each other due to a lack of planning. These layers give malicious attackers several entry points into your systems.

Remove excess infrastructure and examine your hosting costs. Automate app monitoring and security processes to reduce the burden on your security teams. This will help them focus on alerts and activities that really matter, instead of responding to every false flag.

Invest in API-based tools that connect different levels of infrastructure and simplify security monitoring. Ideally, these tools should offer an additional layer of security to minimize your dependence on cloud service provider security measures.

Train Your Employees

Security training is a neglected part of cyber security operations. The typical security training program focuses on delivering information instead of thinking about how that information is delivered. The result is most employees lose attention and believe security is not integral to the company’s success, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve.

The lack of proper security training is evident in the number of phishing incidents that continue to plague enterprises. Phishing is an age-old attempt at compromising systems and has never decreased in effectiveness. Lack of security training is a big reason for this.

Explore ways in which you can revamp your training programs. For instance, invest in simulation software that gives your employees hands-on experience dealing with threats.

Experience of this sort is far more valuable than delivering information via a seminar or lecture.

Simulation platforms also give you the power of analytics. For instance, you can view the average security skill level of employees in your organization and automate training sessions based on individual levels. You can tailor learning paths based on skill levels. After all, why would you train a developer the same way you would train a sales representative?

Simulation-based training platforms also incentivize training by offering rewards and engaging people’s competitive streaks. The result is top-notch security skills and threat minimization.

Prioritize Security Today

Financial firms that prioritize security have begun reaping the rewards with their customers. Whether your product is app-based or physical, security is paramount. Follow the three principles outlined in this article to minimize the threat of a malicious actor stealing valuable information.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.