Data Privacy in the Financial Services Industry

Data Privacy in the Financial Services Industry

25 August 2021

Data Privacy in the Financial Services Industry

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Data privacy is one of the most crucial elements of the financial services industry. The financial industry relies heavily on trust, reliability, and reputation and, when any of those are compromised, problems start propping up. Airtight security, however, does not always mean ultra-strict protocols.

Financial institutions would need the right level of flexibility to let their employees do their jobs. At the same time, they need to keep their data secure against would-be hackers and corporate spies.

Keeping data privacy in financial services needs a systemic level approach. Here are several ways to protect sensitive information and stay ahead of the curve within this customer-centric industry.

Building a Secure IT Infrastructure

In a world of many security risks, the best move to keep financial data out of prying eyes is to build a secure infrastructure. A layered security approach lets data stay within a “fortress”, consisting of multiple technologies. This combines a robust IT infrastructure and several protocols within the organization.

Confirm that all computers and servers within the business have updated apps and operating systems. It’s crucial to do the same with websites, where most cyber attacks start. Use the latest security patches for apps to help close off potential vulnerabilities in your system.

Most software devs will release patches that will address computer hacks and exploits. Install antivirus, antimalware, and filtering software to deter not only malicious software activity but phishing too. You would want an equally robust firewall to control the flow of traffic in and out of every device.

Depending on the security needs of the financial organization, intrusion detection, and monitoring systems can offer a good investment. Not only does it provide an additional layer of protection, but it also makes it harder for would-be attackers from penetrating your servers.

Utilizing High-Level Encryption Software

When you’re looking to acquire a reliable corporate card, there are several technologies at work with it. Among those technologies is encryption software, scrambling financial information to protect it from would-be spoofers.

Encryption is almost a standard across the financial industry due to its vital role in data protection. Utilizing it can help protect sensitive information from unauthorized users.

Through encryption, a complex algorithm scrambles financial data during transmission. Once data transmits to its intended destination, a decryption key unravels financial information and confirms the transaction.

Most modern financial services utilize 256-bit encryption systems. This encryption should keep hackers away, as any information they get will be useless without the key. Encryption should not only happen for your data but also the devices that access it.

Big corporate hackers are able to leak and target information neither due to weak IT infrastructure nor weak cybersecurity. Rather, the downfall of most institutions comes from unencrypted endpoints that access data directly.

Applying Robust Authentication and Identity Management

Financial services go beyond simple onsite solutions for security. In a new normal, most users will operate outside of the institution itself. With that said, it’s more important than ever to have a way to authenticate authorized employees. With the right authentication and Identity management solutions, you can prevent unwanted access to your system.

A robust authentication system would utilize several important functions to create an effective deterrent against cyberattacks. For starters, you want an advanced multi-factor identification system that goes beyond simple username and password. It should even deter intrusions that have access to credentials and single-sign on methods.

For the right identity management solution, it’s important for cybersecurity teams to address real-time threats. Users would need real-time monitoring and response, with the right software notifying them of user authorization issues and even questionable behavior.

At last, any financial services institution would need a proper third-party access system. With this feature, contractors, partners, and vendors can access your corporate network in a sandbox environment. This limits any access to sensitive private information within the company.

Encourage Employee Buy-In and Risk Education

No matter how good your infrastructure is, your system is only as strong as its weakest point. In almost every business, their weakest point is usually the average employee. In many situations, employees are not treated as stakeholders within the company, so they will likely do their best to create an easier, more efficient process for themselves.

Financial institutions need to educate their employees on the value of risk and adherence to protocol. Employee awareness is a valuable commodity, hence they need to learn vital protocols that will help them understand the value of risk security.

Education about protocols against clicking unwanted email, using company mail for personal mailing lists, and using sensitive information is a must. Businesses should teach employees about separating their work and personal emails.

Knowing how to differentiate between real emails and spam also helps, especially for those who are not tech-savvy. Most phishing issues come from users who are unwilling to learn new protocols. Instilling the value of these processes can give every business an edge.

Set Strict Access Permissions For Cloud Services

Many financial services rely on cloud systems to create a varied, flexible workforce with access to cloud-based data. Knowing how to lock down cloud-based information can help reduce the potential for human error. In many breach cases, the problem comes from a misconfigured permission.

Permissions limit those who can access secure data in the cloud. Every system resource needs to have its own access control list (ACL). This allows strategic use of read/write permissions to prevent unauthorized access. Only those who need specific data should have permission to access it.

Security teams would also need to perform consistent security audits to account for the level of access every user needs. If anything, teams should only provide read-only access to those who only need to view the information.

Encourage BYOD Integration and Mobile Device Security

Mobile devices like smartphones are some of the most vulnerable devices in a financial service environment. It’s crucial for businesses to keep them secure, as their point of connection, the wireless network, is among the easiest entry point for hackers.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes offer flexibility for companies. Even then, it has its own set of benefits and risks, especially for security. Every financial service business needs to exert a level of control and security over devices, and this includes employees’ personal assets. Resolving this dilemma should be an important step for the organization.

Organizations must define their BYOD security policies. They need to define company-provided components to allow the level of security they need, which includes SSL certificates for device authentication.

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