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How to tackle real-life margin calls: Resolving potential disruptions in the financial industry

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/MaximP)

In the current digital era, customers regularly share their personal information with organisations and as a result, expect companies to safeguard their personal data as prime priority. This has never been more apparent than with financial institutions, as customers share personal information, from names and addresses to bank and account details–which has been both a blessing and a curse for the institutions involved. With many high-profile financial services hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons as of late, such as the TSB (opens in new tab) bank and payments firm Visa outages, customer trust has been shaken, which means a company’s reputation can be tarnished and damage the business irrevocably. Additionally, regulators are now demanding that IT managers and financial service providers improve their data protection security or face penalties, which could result in further financial and reputational losses.

What this means, is that any disruption to financial services carries potential harmful reputational and financial consequences for organisations, so care must be taken to preserve service, even during times of upgrades and maintenance. However, any processes applied need to keep usability in mind to avoid unnecessary downtime and support implementation of work around software by employees.

Changing environments

The financial services sector is going through a period of rapid transformation brought about by the increasing sophistication and availability of digital technology. What’s also changing is how customers are interacting with their financial service providers. The days of visiting the local bank branch are long past, and today customers are using mobile apps and even social media platforms to carry out their financial transactions. With new and innovative customer banking services being launched frequently, banks are working hard to maintain trust in these services through sophisticated security platforms.

With the added pressure of regulatory policies (opens in new tab) coming into full force, this has forced traditional banks to rethink their internal IT infrastructure, as well as their methods for fraud detection and deterrence. A major element of this change is sustaining visibility over the vast amount of data flowing out of the organisation via these new open APIs, coupled with a deep understanding of the activities occurring within the internal environment. 

Additionally, the migration and adoption of cloud confers many benefits including better agility, scalability and accessibility, but concerning security, reliability and visibility remain. Successful security starts with suitable cloud configuration, as misconfigurations are a key contributor to breaches and other security flaws in the cloud. In many cases, professionals accustomed to local infrastructure attempt to reconstruct their local solutions in the cloud, uneducated and unaware of the intricacies of working with a cloud provider’s precise set of features. This leaves the organisation vulnerable, which has greater ramifications due to type of data held by financial institutions.

Providing availability and assurance

In order to tackle such concerns, its crucial for financial institutions to maintain high performance and accessibility – even during times of service interruption due to incidents (such as data breaches or system failures). Organisations need to provide dependable service through a system which allows for updates to be completed, rather than waiting for scheduled windows of time without disturbance. From an end-user’s perspective, a smooth experience with no service interruptions must be achieved across the whole network, to guarantee service reliability. The primary goal of network security is protecting vital assets, so high availability must be balanced with this. So, to secure the network, correct configurations must be applied from the beginning.

If this set-up is skipped, systems and technologies will not be robust and will hold critical security holes. Typically, misconfiguration is the result of human error, which is the leading factor in many security failures. Financial institutions cannot afford this disruption.

In addition to security issues, fixing concerns entails increased resource investment, which negatively affects economic growth and aggravates the time that the service is offline. Misconfiguration also hinders increasing network complexity and makes overall control and troubleshooting more problematic. 

Resolve security concerns with a central management solution

Ensuring visibility across a network starts with a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) central management system, as it plays a critical role in avoiding human error and optimising time and resources used in network operations.

As we increasingly depend on the cloud to store information and conduct financial transactions online, security networks also need to evolve. So, financial institutions should consider implementing modern NGFW products which can integrate networking capabilities like SD-WAN in a bid to help network administrators to recuperate visibility and control of their expanding network. Adopting such an approach is highly beneficial for network administrators, as users get better direct to cloud performance, and these sites remain protected by enterprise class network security without increasing the management (visibility and control) overhead. Additionally, the reduction of WAN costs is also beneficial, as organisations move from legacy dedicated MPLS networks to much cheaper local broadband connections for their distributed sites.

NGFW to the rescue

NGFW can provide financial administrators with the end-to-end security network they need for providing strong customer authentication and authorisation, using trusted identities for continuous, engaging and reliable communication between banks, third parties and their customers.

Additionally, with financial institutions under an increasing amount of pressure to remain robust, they need to consider working with a trusted vendor, so they can implement an NGFW solution that blocks malicious threats without affecting user experience, even when vital network preservation is being carried out or during a security incident. By implementing network security that creates secure and scalable connectivity between different operating sites, financial institutions will continue to provide a consistent service, which withstands system failures and changes to the threat landscape. Network security should create secure and scalable connectivity, enabling financial institutions to continue to provide a consistent service, which withstands system failures and changes to the threat landscape. As a result, being ahead of the curve will be beneficial for financial institutions by better serving customers in the digital era, while reinforcing their trustworthiness and commitment to good business practices.

Mike Smart, Security Strategist, EMEA, Forcepoint (opens in new tab)
Image source: Shutterstock/MaximP