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From Compliance to Resilience: Building a Robust Cybersecurity Operation in Finance

Financial service firms are heavily regulated, so they must pay close attention to their compliance with data security regulations and guidelines. Achieving compliance with the latest regulations is a critical step, but it is only a first step on the path to building robust cybersecurity operations.

Thankfully, financial services firms may have a leg up compared to companies in other industries. According to a report by DarkReading, “The financial services sector does particularly well in focusing on high-risk vulnerabilities, patching nearly 85% of them.” This is because “risk management is in the DNA of most financial services companies, and that accounts for much of their success in this area.”

Cybersecurity leaders at financial firms must move beyond the “box-checking mentality” of compliance-only security. They can shift from compliance-focused approaches to resilience-driven cybersecurity strategies by implementing stringent cybersecurity measures and becoming more proactive in their approach to threat deterrence. 

Here are some of the ways firms can build a more robust cybersecurity operation.

Comprehensive Risk Assessments

Financial firms should perform a comprehensive risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats that go beyond those identified by regulators and watchdog organizations. This assessment should include an evaluation of the firm’s current cybersecurity posture, identification of critical assets, and an analysis of potential threats and their impact on the business.

For example, firms could evaluate the potential impact of ransomware, phishing attacks, and other malicious activities that could result in financial loss. They should also develop robust incident response plans to ensure that they are able to quickly respond to any incidents that occur.

Larger firms, especially those that are widely known, are more likely to be attacked and need to be constantly aware of the evolving threat landscape. According to Harvard Business Review, Fortune 1000 companies, for example, have a 25% probability of being breached, and 10% of them will face multi-million loss at some point.

Boosting Security Access Controls

Financial firms should implement strong access controls to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and systems. This includes implementing multi-factor authentication, role-based access controls, and other security measures to prevent unauthorized access. 

Financial firms should also look to implement least privilege principles where possible, making sure that users only have access to the resources and information they need to carry out their job functions. The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines this as “The principle that a security architecture should be designed so that each entity is granted the minimum system resources and authorizations that the entity needs to perform its function.” 

Least privilege principles are especially important when it comes to privileged access, which should only be granted to personnel who have proven they meet the requirements for such access.

Finally, the use of encryption is another important consideration for financial services firms. Encryption helps protect data in transit, at rest, and in archives, ensuring that it can’t be accessed by unauthorized personnel.

Proactive Risk Management and Deterrence

Financial firms should adopt a proactive approach to cyber risk management, seeking to counter threats before they become apparent. This approach requires building an intelligence-driven platform that uses deep analytics to detect, investigate, and prevent malicious activities.

Similarly, proactive risk management must include continuous monitoring and threat intelligence to detect potential threats and vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

The use of artificial intelligence can be especially effective in identifying threats. AI algorithms can analyze large volumes of data and find patterns that may indicate a potential threat. 

Data-driven Decision-Making

Financial firms must harness the power of data to drive decisions in their cybersecurity operations. This means collecting and analyzing data from all aspects of their cyber environment to identify trends, patterns, and anomalies that could indicate potential threats or vulnerabilities.

One way to achieve this is by implementing security information and event management (SIEM) solutions. SIEM solutions gather log and event data from multiple sources across an organization’s network, analyzing it in real-time to identify potential security incidents. This allows for early detection of threats and swift response, minimizing potential damage.

Additionally, data analytics can play a critical role in vulnerability management. By analyzing vulnerability data alongside other data points such as asset criticality and threat intelligence, firms can prioritize their remediation efforts based on risk, ensuring the most critical vulnerabilities are addressed first.

Predictive analytics can also be a game-changer in cybersecurity. Predictive models use historical data to anticipate future behavior or events. In the context of cybersecurity, this could mean predicting which vulnerabilities are most likely to be exploited or identifying user behavior that deviates from established patterns, which could indicate a potential insider threat.

Finally, financial firms should employ data visualization tools to relay important data points to decision-makers. These tools can help cybersecurity teams interpret and understand complex data sets. They can also aid in communicating cybersecurity risks to stakeholders in an understandable way, facilitating alignment and support for cybersecurity initiatives.

Resilience-Focused Training and Culture Development

Moving toward cybersecurity resilience requires the organization to rethink its culture, not only its technology investments. Creating a culture of security requires comprehensive and ongoing training for all employees. 

This trend has become more critical in recent years as high-profile security breaches have rocked the industry.

According to a report by Finance Derivative, “Creation of a complete culture of cyber security that spans right across financial establishments has therefore been a high priority for CISOs and Risk Managers in the finance arena, who find themselves at the forefront of the fight to engineer, foster and encourage a culture of pervasive cyber security awareness.”

Employee training is also an integral part of building a cybersecurity culture, and it should focus on cybersecurity awareness, disaster preparedness, and incident response. This will ensure that everyone is knowledgeable in proper security protocols and can help identify potential threats or vulnerabilities before they become a problem.

Furthermore, firms should also look to train personnel on the firm’s specific security policies and practices, such as encryption protocols, access control measures, and incident response plans. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the requirements to ensure security and compliance. 

Partnerships with Cybersecurity Specialists

Finally, financial firms must form robust partnerships with cybersecurity firms and other specialists to ensure their networks are secure from attacks. This is an especially important step for firms that don’t have a strong in-house security team.

Some companies, such as OptionOne Technologies, specialize in providing cybersecurity services in the financial sector. Any partner should be able to offer the firm a comprehensive view of its security posture, including assessing the firm’s existing infrastructure and helping develop an effective risk management strategy. 

In addition, many cybersecurity firms provide specialized services such as penetration testing, managed security services, incident response planning, and security operations center (SOC) monitoring. This level of expertise can be invaluable in ensuring that financial firms can stay ahead of potential threats and maintain a healthy operating staff of professionals to address incidents.

Build a Better Security Posture

By implementing these measures, financial services firms can shift from compliance-focused approaches to cybersecurity to resilience-driven cybersecurity strategies. This will help them to better protect their critical assets and respond to potential cyber threats and incidents.

To learn about how you can improve your security posture, contact us at OptionOne Technologies today.