Cybersecurity is a constantly shifting landscape, with new technologies, threats and defences emerging with dizzying speed. Tracking, assessing, and protecting against cyber risk can be a highly technical process, involving specialist knowledge, obscure acronyms and regular reviews, but, it's not an area financial services organisations can afford to ignore.
Financial services organisations are 300 times more likely than other companies to be targeted by a cyberattack and the risk is growing, especially with the ongoing digital transformation of the industry providing new opportunities for criminals to target businesses, systems and customers. In this constantly shifting environment, cybersecurity must be a key concern for everyone, from board members to frontline staff.
In this article we explore five key best practices, without the jargon, to focus on practical steps your organisation can take to protect itself.
1. Make cybersecurity a whole business concern
In a digital-first financial world, the scope, integration and importance of cyber security will become increasingly essential, embedded in every part of your organisation. It’s not enough to just have dedicated experts to handle cyber threats – every member of your team has a role to play in safeguarding your business.
Leading businesses are already integrating cybersecurity into their broader organisational structures, including:
- Forming technology committees with a mandate that includes cyber oversight for the larger business.
- Expanding protocols in the event of an attack to include broad groups of senior managers, not just the people directly fixing the issue.
- Elevating reporting on cyber security to a C-level day-to-day concern, with plans executed through every department.
- Expanding oversight to include not just the state of systems but intelligence on threats, case studies of breaches and the impact of regulatory changes.
By having a consistent policy that extends from your front-line customer service teams up to board-level oversight, your business can create holistic frameworks where everyone plays a role in guarding against risk.
2. Invest in people and training
While the first thought in terms of protecting a business from cyber attacks might go to the buzzwords we know from the movies – firewalls, threat detection, AI – the biggest risk to your business is from your people. The most sophisticated tools in the world have limited utility if one of your team members leaves their laptop open, compromising your network.
Employees need to be regarded as part of the cyber security team, with corresponding investment in their training and education. This includes regular refreshes to keep up with changes in the landscape.
- Educate your teams on identification techniques and other security best practices - like using password managers, two-factor authentication and logging out of devices before leaving them unattended - to significantly curb the risk of internal actor risk.
- Involve management and teams in rehearsal scenarios, preparing them to respond to potential cyber incidents so everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.
- Formalise business policy in systems that strictly manage permissions, known as ‘privileged access management’, where user credentials and privileges are regularly tracked, controlled, and audited.
3. Safeguard your everyday activity
The biggest risks for a business lie in the processes that underpin everyday operations – actions that can seem so normal that your team doesn’t stop to think about them. It’s in these moments that threats can creep in and wreak havoc.
One of the most basic areas to consider is communications – attackers used phishing to gain initial access in 46% of attacks against the financial services sector in 2021. Phishing is the use of fraudulent messages to trick a person into revealing sensitive information to the attacker, and email can be a key vulnerability. The spread of remote work creates more reliance on email communications while also limiting face-to-face checks that can act as a guard against threats.
One of the most effective ways to safeguard your emails is moving to a secure platform such as Unipass Mailock as an end-to-end communications provider, creating security that goes beyond your immediate organisation.
This can deliver a range of benefits, including:
- Increased security, with one system used for internal teams, advisers and the end customer.
- Identified recipients, using the widely-adopted Unipass Identity authentication.
- A secure and economic alternative to post, allowing organisations to save on print, pack and post costs and contribute to ESG goals.
- Reduced inconsistencies in approaches between different business areas.
For financial services businesses, the right security software goes beyond practical enablement, helping you demonstrate to customers that you take protecting their data seriously.
4. Educate your customers
Financial services have both a moral and a regulatory duty to keep their customers' data and finances safe. While this starts with controlling internal processes and checks to ensure the integrity of your own systems, it’s also important to help customers themselves protect their assets.
The financial services industry is the most commonly impersonated industry for phishing attacks, accounting for 34% of activity in H1 2022. Criminals impersonating your organisation have the potential to do serious reputational damage to your business, while potentially putting your customers at risk.
- Ensure that your customers understand the ways that criminals can impersonate your business, via phone, email, post or other channels.
- Create easy methods for customers to verify official communications and check risk.
- Document your information policies for how customers can expect your representatives to behave to highlight any potential fraudulent activity.
5. Spread risk through multiple lines of defence
No one solution can protect your business from every threat. An effective cybersecurity programme requires multiple lines of defence, both technological and human. These can work in tandem, mitigating potential weaknesses in each other. For example, automated systems can track data at a scale that human teams can’t match, but on a case-by-case basis, human agents can more effectively understand the nuance of customer behaviour and assess risk holistically.
By using the right systems for each level of threat, you can create more protective barriers between your customers and potential risks, examining threats through multiple lenses. These can include:
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to comply with necessary mandates more efficiently and track issues.
- Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) powered fraud detection algorithms to spot suspicious activity.
- Smart incident resolution to handle low-level issues and automated attacks.
- Specialist teams for customer use cases when issues are escalated.
Prioritising secure your communications
Protecting your business and your clients has always been a core responsibility for financial services organisations. Cybersecurity is just the latest evolution. To remain competitive, institutions must prioritise solutions that maximise security and minimise service disruption, cost and risk. This is especially important for client-facing services, including email.
Unipass Mailock is a secure email solution specifically designed for the financial services industry. Using award-winning encryption technology, institutions can create end-to-end secure communication channels for internal and external stakeholders to move data and gather information securely. Unipass Mailock securely digitises your comms, helping you to:
- Decrease reliance on paper-related processes
- Engage and instil trust in clients
- Streamline internal operations
- Comply with rising regulations
To find out more about how Unipass Mailock can secure your organisation, start your free trial today.
Originally posted on 25 10 22
Last updated on July 28, 2023
Posted by: Team Origo
Articles and resources posted by Team Origo have been produced by experts in financial services technology from Origo Services in collaboration with the digital identity specialists at Beyond Encryption.