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Organisations within the financial services industry have an immense challenge in keeping their data secure. As the amount of information these companies keep grows, so does the adversity of effectively securing it. According to IBM, the financial sector has on average the second-highest cost resulting from data breaches, with an estimated $5.72 (£4.68) million spent on detection, response, and disruption leading to loss of business.

Cybersecurity has become a critical sector that companies are putting more focus on globally. For financial services, where highly sensitive data is being shared and stored on a regular basis, the implementation and development of dedicated cybersecurity systems is crucial. Many financial services organisations have been paying particular attention to digital communications, taking action to ensure that any information that is shared internally or externally is completely secure.

Establishing a secure communication

Protecting stored data and digital communications from an attack calls for a holistic approach. The three main aspects that any digital communication strategy requires are:

Robust encryption

A technique of locking communication content and rendering it unreadable to any third party who intercepts the communication. This solution ensures that only the intended recipient, with the necessary decryption key, will be able to decipher the mail and subsequently read the content. End-to-end encryption ensures that emails are secured at rest, as well as in transit.

The risks of not encrypting digital communications are endless. According to a Ponemon Institute report, organisations can save $1.4 (£1.15) million on average for each attack, by implementing a robust encryption solution on all online communications.

Resilient authentication

As the technology of digital identification has evolved, organisations have gained access to an expansive collection of software with which they can authorise users. Knowledge-based authentication, two-factor authentication and biometric identification are only a few of the solutions available.

Digital authentication is the foundation that reinforces the modern digital economy. Being able to reliably identify users ensures that organisations build trust with their consumers, with increased dependability enhancing the customer experience and consequently increasing conversion rates. As 66% of organisations believe they would not be able to recover after a data breach, it is unquestionable that companies should increase their investment in cybersecurity that protects their users.

Safe and secure data storage

In 2020, cyberattacks on financial institutions exposed an average of 352, 771 sensitive files. According to Verizon, 85% of these breaches were due to human error. Employees who regularly interact with secure data pose a serious threat to an organisation’s cybersecurity when they have not been sufficiently educated on the aspects of maintaining adequate cyber health. Not only do employees need to be trained on managing and sharing secure information, but also on crisis management and processing the aftermath of a breach.

To address human-based errors in cybersecurity, organisations should first comprehend that people are a company’s strongest asset. When provided with the correct tools, knowledge, and training, employees’ capacity to protect data against a cyberattack is powerful.

Major security breaches are inevitable, and they can be devastating to a company’s reputation and bottom line. Consumers need to be able to trust that their finances and personal information are safe and secure. Cybersecurity is one of the most critical challenges financial institutions face today.

The bottom line

Data security should be at the centre of every technological decision made by organisations within the financial services industry. However, accessibility is key in ensuring user engagement. Organisations should consider implementing an IT strategy with a robust security foundation and adaptable infrastructure, that can transform and constantly evolve with the ever-changing cybercrime landscape.

Encryption is fundamental to cybersecurity. It must be adopted alongside the regulation of digital communication systems and the training of employees to mitigate the impact of future threats. Keeping employees educated and prioritising continuous development in this space is one of the most important tools an organisation can implement to stay ahead of emerging cyber threats. In an increasingly digital world, cybersecurity is no longer just a ‘nice to have’, it is a ‘must have’, and financial services organisations need to display compliance, dependability, and security throughout the entire customer experience.

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