Simon Garwood, Product Manager, Investment Services, Fiserv
As enterprise operating systems continue to evolve, investment managers are increasingly exploring how to improve the efficiency of their enterprise IT infrastructure. At the same time, these firms are focused on reducing overhead costs, while maximising the value of remaining expenditures. This means that investment managers are thoroughly examining their IT budgets, which are often driven by expenses related to licensing, hardware, maintenance and support.
Whilst the financial services industry has for many years relied on a limited number of enterprise operating systems such as Unix® and Windows®, the last decade has seen Enterprise Linux gain considerable global traction with investment managers of all sizes. The origins of Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, both open source solutions, are particularly interesting. Linux was created in 1991 by University of Helsinki student Linus Torvalds, who introduced the free operating system on an Internet newsgroup.
Throughout the 1990s, Linux attracted a passionate, collaborative community of IT aficionados that helped the new system evolve from its foundation as a non-commercial project into a robust enterprise operating system that major firms can leverage for mission-critical, day-to-day initiatives. As a result, Enterprise Linux formally debuted in 2002 as a commercialised-version of Linux, and has since become the global leader in open source enterprise technology.
In 2014, Enterprise Linux is established with a strong, global history in functioning as a highly secure, scalable and performance-driven infrastructure for investment managers – and the entire global financial services industry. This has generated a wider adoption of Enterprise Linux by IT leaders at financial services organizations worldwide.
Financial powerhouses now leverage Enterprise Linux because it enables them to increase security, save time, and process mission-critical information far more efficiently. Furthermore, enterprise-level open source technology allows for the precise customisation that is expressly prohibited by “closed source” competitors.
According to the 2013 Enterprise End User Report, published by The Linux Foundation and Yeoman Technology Group, the past few years has seen increasing adoption of Enterprise Linux. The third-annual report is based on a survey of more than 350 IT professionals from major global investment and wealth managers such as Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and MetLife.
The report also shows that more than 80 per cent of respondents plan to increase their use of Linux servers over the next five years, with more than 70 per cent planning to deploy Enterprise Linux for new services and applications. In addition, 73 per cent of survey respondents also stating that they intend to increase Linux use for mission-critical workloads.
Functionality and flexibility
Remaining on the leading-edge of technology is a key priority for any financial institution, and as these results show, Enterprise Linux is developing a growing influence within the financial services industry as organisations seek to secure the most up-to-date functionality with advanced flexibility.
In the looming aftermath of what has been called the greatest global economic downturn in recent history, the financial services industry remains committed to reducing top-line expenses. Therefore, cost is regularly cited as a key motivating factor by firms who have or are considering Enterprise Linux adoption.
Estimated cost savings of up to 35%
Moving to Linux can help financial organisations reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for front, middle and back-office technology. For example, Arkelis, which is owned by SWIFT, recently published a case study that confirmed its Enterprise Linux deployment contributed to an approximate 35% savings for hardware purchase costs, annual maintenance, operating systems licensing and interface annual fees. In addition, both Hewlett Packard and the Dubai International Finance Centre have published separate case studies demonstrating very similar levels of cost savings and improvements in TCO as a result of Enterprise Linux.
These cost savings can prove particularly valuable for smaller-tier investment management firms who may require the same technology muscle of larger industry counterparts, but do not have the IT budget and resources to deploy it. Enterprise Linux genuinely benefits these smaller organisations because it allows them to manage IT infrastructure in a more efficient manner, while reducing overall costs.
Speed and scalability
Indeed, Enterprise Linux is now a robust platform deployed by many Fortune 500 financial services firms. The platform offers the capability to support thousands of concurrent users with minimal system downtimes, and is distinguished by its operating speed, which is one reason why organisations with Enterprise Linux already in operation plan to dedicate additional resources to its expansion; other firms are even considering a longer-term migration to Enterprise Linux exclusively as part of their strategic objectives.
The true speed of Enterprise Linux is validated by another compelling fact: across the globe, the majority of so-called “supercomputers” run on some variant of Enterprise Linux – including the 10 fastest computers in the world.
Vendors respond to demand for Enterprise Linux
At this time, financial services technology vendors are progressively working to evaluate which applications they need to develop for Enterprise Linux. As the priorities of investment managers and financial institutions continue to evolve over time – and as trust in the open architecture basis of Enterprise Linux grows – financial services technology providers must ensure that their solutions are compatible with Enterprise Linux. They must also remain flexible, and continue to provide exactly what the global financial industry demands from them.
Track and Trace and Other Lost Data
By Ian Smith, General Manager and Finance Director at Invu
You, like me, were probably amazed by the now infamous loss of the over 16,000 positive test results in the track and trace system due to an Excel spreadsheet error.
You, like me, probably wondered how the Government could get something so important so wrong?
But perhaps we should aks are standing in a greenhouse launching stones?
Data risks from software
Today we are spoilt with software offerings that help us with both our personal and our work lives.
Microsoft Excel is a powerful application and offers many functions now that required moderately complex macro writing in the past, seducing all of us into submitting more data for it to analyse. In finance, we tend to solve all those problems our applications cannot address using Excel.
In finance, we also know the risks of formula errors, and if we have relied on it enough, we will have our own war stories to go with these risks. Yet, we often continue to use the tool for operations that make those folks with an information technology background shake their heads.
These Excel files nowadays may find themselves resident on a local file server or one of the many file servers in the cloud (like those from the big three, DropBox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive or other less well-known file sharing applications). Many of us use these in multiple ways.
Beyond finance and Excel, there are now many applications that we run our data through and leave data stored in the form of documents, comments and notes.
The long-standing example is email. We today receive many documents via email, with content in the body often providing context. Email systems then become the store for that data. While this works from a personal point of view, for a business working at scale, the information stored this way can be lost to the rest of the business. Just like data falling off a spreadsheet when there are not enough rows to capture the results.
More recently, we have seen easy to consume applications develop in many areas like chat and productivity. Take for example task management apps, my own preference being Monday.com (I am sparing you the long list of these). The result of the task and how we got there, in the form of attachments or comments, are often stored in the application. Each application we touch encourages us to leave a bit of data behind in its store.
Many of these applications can have a personal use and an initial personal dalliance is what sparks up the motivation to apply the application to a business purpose. Just like the “Track and Trace System”, they can often find themselves being used in an environment where the scale of the operation overwhelms their intended use.
In our business lives, combining the use of applications in this way by liberally sprinkling our data across multiple systems often stored in documents (be they Microsoft Word, email, scans or comments and notes) puts us on the pathway to trouble.
Imagine how Matt Hancock felt explaining to Parliament that the world-class track and trace system depended on a spreadsheet.
Can you imagine a similar situation in your business life? Say, for example, that documents or data in some form was lost because of the use of disparate systems and/or applications that were not really designed for the task you assigned to them.
Who would be your Parliament?
Now you can see yourself in the greenhouse, you may not want to reach for that metaphorical stone.
If these observations create some concerns for you, you may want to consider the information management strategy at your business. You have a strategy, even if it is not addressed specifically in documents, plans or thought processes.
These steps may help figure out where you are and where you want to go.
- Assess your current environment.
Are you a centraliser, with all the information collected in one place? Or is all your data spread across multiple stores, as identified above? Are you storing your key business information on paper documents, or digitally or a mix of both.
- Assess your current processes.
Do your processes run on a limited number of software applications? Or do you enable staff to pick their own tools to get things done? The answer to this question is often a mix of both where staff bridge the gaps in those applications using tools like MS excel. A key application to think about is how the data in email, particularly the attachments, is made available to the business.
- Design a pathway for change and implement it.
Start with the end in mind. I suggest the goal is to enable the right people to have the right access to the information they require to do their job in real-time. I believe the way to effectively do this is to go digital. The fork in the road is then whether to centralise your information store or adopt a decentralised approach.
My own preferred route is to centralise using document management software that enables all your documents to be stored in one place. Applications like email can be integrated with it, significantly reducing the workload required to file and store the data. The data can then be used in business applications using workflows. Thinking these workflows through will help you assess the gaps between your key business applications and consider whether tools like excel are being stretched too far.
NICE Unveils ENLIGHTEN Fraud Prevention Powered by AI and Voice Biometrics to Empower Contact Centers in Safeguarding Consumers
Using AI-enabled interpretive and predictive models and advanced voice biometrics, the new solution continuously scans millions of calls to proactively identify fraudulent behavior and protect brand reputation
NICE (Nasdaq: NICE) today unveiled ENLIGHTEN Fraud Prevention, an innovative new solution for automatic and continuous fraudster detection and exposure. Bringing together NICE ENLIGHTEN’s comprehensive Customer Engagement AI platform with the company’s voice biometrics capabilities, the solution continuously scans millions of calls to accurately pinpoint suspicious behavior and uncover previously unidentified fraudsters. Adopting a proactive approach, NICE ENLIGHTEN Fraud Prevention significantly reduces fraud losses and handling time while protecting consumers and improving their experience.
“Contact center fraud is growing in frequency, breadth and sophistication,” observes Dan Miller, Lead Analyst at Opus Research. “NICE ENLIGHTEN Fraud Prevention stands out as an integrated, pre-emptive AI-based Fraud Prevention solution that actively prevents malicious activities with minimum additional effort from customers.”
Unlike most technologies that focus on a single call, NICE ENLIGHTEN Fraud Prevention includes powerful AI interpretive and predictive models that scan millions of voice interactions over time to detect abnormal, risky behavior including requests to change addresses or authentication methods without relying on agents to manually capture dispositions. NICE’s Proactive Fraudster Exposure voice biometrics capability included within the solution is then used to expose perpetrators and create a ranked and prioritized list of suspected fraudsters. Importantly, the solution is self-training, constantly learning from identified behaviors, continuously updating its AI models and thus consistently improving results. With this novel solution, organizations can protect customers from account takeover and prevent exposure of personally identifiable information, reduce fraud losses, optimize fraud analyst team efficiency and safeguard brand loyalty.
“We are proud to bring yet another market-first offering with NICE ENLIGHTEN Fraud Prevention,” Barry Cooper, President, NICE Enterprise Group, said. “NICE ENLIGHTEN is NICE’s AI platform with models specific to the Customer Engagement domain. A number of solutions across our portfolio are being infused with AI from NICE ENLIGHTEN including our Proactive Fraudster Exposure solution. NICE ENLIGHTEN Fraud Prevention ensures that fraudsters are rapidly and proactively stopped in their tracks so organizations can protect their customers and their brand. We believe that by bringing AI to Fraud Prevention we provide organizations with the agility that makes it even more difficult for the fraudsters to win.”
Financial Services Sector Leads in Fixing Application Flaws, Lags in Time to Remediate
Veracode, the largest global provider of application security testing (AST) solutions, today released findings revealing that the financial services industry has the best flaw fix rate across six industries and leads a majority of industries in uncovering flaws within open source components. Fixing open source flaws is critical because the attack surface of applications is much larger than developers expect when open source libraries are included indirectly.
The findings came as a result of Veracode’s State of Software Security Volume 11, which analysed 130,000 applications from 2,500 companies. The research found that financial services organizations have the smallest proportion of applications with flaws and the second-lowest prevalence of severe flaws behind the manufacturing sector. It also has the highest fix rate among all industries, fixing 75% of flaws. Still, the research found that financial services firms require about six and a half months to resolve half of the flaws they find, indicating it is slower than other industries to remediate.
“Financial services firms have a median time to remediation of more than six months, despite having a high fix rate compared to other sectors,” said Chris Wysopal, Chief Technology Officer at Veracode. “However, developers in the financial services industry are often limited by the nature of the environments they are working in, as applications tend to be older, have a medium flaw density, and aren’t consistently following DevSecOps practices compared to other industries. With some additional training and sticking to best practices, they can quickly remediate issues and start to reduce security debt.”
Financial Services Specific Findings
Veracode’s research found compelling evidence that certain developer behaviours associated with DevSecOps yield substantial benefits to software security. The findings detail that financial services firms:
- Are a leading industry when it comes to fixing flaws in their open source software and establishing strong scan cadences.
- Fall to middle-of-the-road for scanning frequency and integrating security testing, and are not likely to be using dynamic analysis (DAST) scanning technology to uncover vulnerabilities.
- Outperform averages across all industries in dealing with issues related to cryptography, input validation, Cross-Site Scripting, and credentials management – all things related to protecting users of financial applications.
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