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How to keep financial data secure from cyber attacks

How to keep financial data secure from cyber attacks

By Faisal Bhutto, SVP of Cloud and Cybersecurity, Calian IT & Cyber Solutions

Speed and security are everything, especially in finance. Organizations in the finance industry or those dealing with financial information know they need to protect themselves against cyber attacks, but are they doing enough on their own?

Organizations dealing with sensitive, personal information have always been major targets for bad actors, but rapid digital transformation has increased vulnerabilities to cyber attacks. As more businesses and consumers adopt digital financial services, more opportunities for cyber crimes are created, and the industry must continuously work to improve data privacy and security to maintain smooth business operations and customer trust.

The problem for organizations lies in keeping up with the breakneck pace of digital evolution and simultaneous increased exposure to cyber crimes. Calian IT & Cyber Solutions’ data findings reveal cyber attacks primarily occur in seven areas: network, endpoint, identity, SaaS, cloud, Firewall, and scanning. Of these areas, those with the highest rates of cyber attacks are network with 30%, identity with 20%, and endpoint and SaaS with 15% each.

Even small attacks can have significant impacts. The recent MGM Resorts data breach sparked by vishing is one example that caused the company to shut down its systems in an effort to protect guest data. The cybersecurity issue affected financial systems like online reservation systems, slot machines, and ATMs. In this instance, leaked credentials gave bad actors an opportunity to access internal systems and processes, laying the groundwork for cyber attacks.

To provide the most protection to financial data, organizations should deploy a robust layered business approach of secure solutions that rapidly interconnect financial branches and help customers with necessary software while also managing 24/7 threat hunting to ensure the highest levels of security. As a result, organizations will be better equipped to examine their data centers, networks, endpoints, and employees to provide an effective cybersecurity plan.

While some institutions can take on this level of work in-house, bringing in a team of experts to focus on cybersecurity is a strong solution that will help organizations better prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from cybersecurity problems. Below are the essential services organizations must consider when looking for experts and solutions to keep their financial data, businesses, and customers safe.

Assets and vulnerabilities

Auditing an organization’s assets is a critical first step to uncovering vulnerabilities. Conduct inventory management, along with internal and external scanning, to assess the risks and potential exposures of IT services, hardware, infrastructure, and operating systems. Protect assets with SASE, firewalls, and VPNs.

Risk and maturity

Developing a risk management strategy involves monitoring developments and understanding potential threats an organization might have missed through a risk maturity and management model. Effective models will allow organizations to measure the potency of risk assessments for recovery and protection by gathering data to determine what might lead to risks, inform the assessment process, and understand the infrastructure’s ability to withstand the risk.


Each institution will require a customized approach to data backup and additional cybersecurity solutions to address its payment processing and overall business needs. Implementing an effective and proactive recovery plan will help mitigate business disruptions as a result of technical failures or larger-scale natural disaster events. Robust recovery plans will prioritize business continuity by looking into root cause analysis, restoration services, and discovering the maximum tolerable downtime to address these issues more quickly.

Remediation also helps organizations recover from incidents or ransomware attacks without making payments. By effectively monitoring for risks and estimating the time spent to overcome them, organizations can quickly detect and address attacks to minimize downtime and damages.

Awareness training

By design, many organizations, like financial institutions, must participate in frequent training programs to familiarize employees with constant updates to compliance and regulatory requirements. Security is often included in these programs but requires greater focus to truly understand and prepare for cyber attacks. Sharing information and conducting mock security tests will allow cybersecurity experts to raise cybersecurity awareness in a controlled environment. This means educating employees about existing and potential threats and vulnerabilities while also walking them through solutions.

Awareness training comes in many forms and can be customized to suit an organization’s needs. This can include ransomware simulations replicating real-world attacks using controllable components such as automated protection response, threat intelligence, encryption, advanced TTPs, and more. Purple team exercises are also effective. By combining red and blue teams to work through cybersecurity issues, solutions are created based on offensive and defensive strategies.


Cybersecurity providers can conduct gap analyses, configuration audits, and review compliance requirements against an institution’s existing IT environment to identify the efficacy of assets and existing data protection plans. This is based on an evaluation that looks at previous threats while simultaneously looking at potential and hidden vulnerabilities. The results of these assessments will uncover issues to be addressed on a priority basis.

For example, a ransomware assessment will determine underlying vulnerabilities within an infrastructure in addition to other issues threatening an organization’s security. Continuous monitoring increases awareness of ransomware attacks and provides valuable insights to help organizations quickly respond and prevent them.

Dark web monitoring is another essential tool to minimize risks. With so many illegal and destructive actions building in the virtual shadows of the dark web, organizations need threat assessment tools to keep track of the threats, monitor sensitive data, and receive notifications if that data falls into the wrong hands.

Penetration testing

Conducting a simulated cyber attack experiment will help organizations find and repair gaps in their cyber defense strategies. These mock tests will reveal the effectiveness of networks and personnel in combating cyber attacks. Comprehensive assessments require frequent penetration testing to build a more robust cyber defense solution.

Managed Security Services

By offering year-round support available 24/7, managed security services providers (MSSP) sweep protection and security management for organizations and their payment processing systems. Centralized management services include network scans and reports to identify vulnerabilities, behavior monitoring to detect irregularities within networks and endpoints, mapping intelligence to proactively respond to cyber threats, email and mobile app defense, and layered protection via multi-factor authentication.

Endpoint security

With payment processing, customers are an organization’s biggest threat. This is due to the various user endpoints created by tablets, smartphones, laptops, and other digital devices, which provide ample opportunities for malicious actions. Look for solutions that provide endpoint security training focusing on user awareness and next-generation data protection to protect against sophisticated threats.

Data protection

A dynamic data protection plan will help prevent traditional data loss prevention deployments and protect sensitive information. Implementing behavioral analytics is a key element of modern data protection. Analytics provide real-time monitoring, which works to expose abnormal internal or external data access and file movement. By identifying normalized behavior, intelligent analytics provides security against data leaks and insider threats.

Data protection is also enhanced by backups, which can restore data in the event of a disaster, malicious act, or loss. With backups, organizations are protected by copies of data that can be used to quickly recover information.

By outsourcing security to third-party professionals, organizations can lean on their expertise and consulting services to map out a cybersecurity strategy that protects their payments and suits their unique business needs. While capable of responding to threats, these security experts support a proactive approach to threat prevention and management by monitoring infrastructure, conducting risk assessments, providing cybersecurity awareness training, and implementing and integrating products. Working with dynamic cybersecurity providers will help organizations maintain safety, security, and success across business and customer operations.

Global Banking & Finance Review


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