Security is becoming more complex as technology continues to evolve. How much more complex? In 2004, companies spent $3.5 billion on security; that number reached $120 billion in 2017. Even though organizations are investing in security, the daily headlines illustrate that major breaches still occur. So, here are a few steps that financial companies can take to ensure that their security investments are effective.
1. Assess the Risk
The first step to developing an effective security plan is to understand where your potential risks are. A Security Risk Assessment identifies system weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and potential threats and their attacks vectors. The assessment outlines your organization’s risk profile (which systems are most vulnerable to attack) as well as areas in need of greater security controls. From there, a financial firm can begin the process of fortifying its weak links.
2. Prevent Internal Breaches
Usually, companies focus on outsiders trying to get into their system. The reality is that internal breaches are a common data security problem. To avert them, employees need to undergo thorough background checks. Supervision and communication needs to be constant to ensure employees behave appropriately. Companies need to perform regular evaluations to ensure data is used responsibly. Here, they need tools, such as Data Loss Prevention solutions, that look at what employees are trying to do; identify tasks, such as downloading a lot of information, that may illustrate a problem; and flag those items, so the firm can take corrective actions.
3. Look for a Robust Suite of Tools
Corporate IT systems have become interconnected in new ways. Consequently, the number of potential entry points has increased. Strong security starts at the network, which is often the entry point for any attack. But companies need to examine all of their other components and secure them as well. In many cases, financial businesses invest in point solutions to close select security holes. This approach has limitations. The company spends a lot of time and money maintaining the different tools. Steps, such as user authorizations, are often repeated. Finally, they lack a complete security picture: They have pieces of the puzzle but do not have them all. A better approach is to look for an integrated service.
4. Put Sound Patching Processes in Place
Most breaches occur when hackers attack outdated software. Companies have many applications running and updating them in a timely fashion is challenging. In many cases, financial organizations patch servers in a reactive rather than a proactive mode.
IT operations teams often work with a variety of point patching tools. One solution provides Microsoft Windows updates, another updates Adobe, a third only sees action for Mac OS patches, and yet another patches the payroll application. Such processes are cumbersome and inefficient. In fact, many businesses believe that client-side patches are released at an unmanageable rate, and sometimes, systems administrators have difficulty determining which patch needs to be applied to which system. As a result, mistakes are made, and new holes emerge.
There is a better option. Hand over that work to an expert. Here, patches for Microsoft products, third-party software, PC-based hardware, Mac computers, client systems, and servers are all completed through the same processes. The efficiency lessens the potential for outsiders to use an outdated software release to access your organization’s systems.
5. Make Backing up Data an Important Part of the Business
While companies want to keep their information safe, a security breach, or even an unexpected network outage, may corrupt their data. Then where do you turn? To prepare for such a possibility, financial corporations need to regularly backup their data. In fact, critical data has many faces: word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable information. A third party backs up data automatically and store copies of important information offsite.
6. Train Your Employees
The crooks look for the weakest link in the security. Usually, that is a person rather than a system. Consequently, your security is as strong as the least prepared employee. You need to educate your employees about online threats and how to protect your business’s data, including safe use of social networking sites.
Hackers study and understand how employees interact with computers. With social engineering, they use persuasion and/or deception to gain access to information systems. Social engineering services root out and document potential areas of weakness. These services will identify areas that need improvement, document compliance shortfalls pertinent to regulatory agencies, and assist you in developing security awareness training to fix the issue.
Nowadays, security is a complex and evolving area. Financial services companies need to put checks in place to protect information. These six steps provide you with a solid foundation to securing your company’s sensitive information.
In addition, you should consult with an expert. DataComm has a well-established track record of keeping financial systems secure. The company’s broad suite of security services includes 24/7 network monitoring, DLP, patching, firewall management, intrusion detection and prevention, social engineering services, spam filtering, backup, and encryption services.
Learn more about how DataComm can protect your business’ sensitive information.