Organisations face security bombshell as systems fall out of service
Majority (79%) turn to the cloud to modernise
UK financial services companies are facing a security bombshell over outdated services and applications, with only 6 per cent knowing when all their infrastructure components will reach their end-of-life date.
Cloud services provider KCOM surveyed 200 IT decision-makers in financial services, and found the average firm has 434 server-based applications either partly or fully unsupported and over 400 applications that are out of support, or which have end-of-life components.
When technology reaches the end of its life it is no longer supported by its manufacturer, and owners can no longer benefit from patches, operating system updates, or on-site visits to repair hardware. This presents serious security and compliance vulnerabilities, putting the business at risk of cyber attacks and regulatory fines – not to mention significant delays when introducing new services for customers.
The research found that only 6 per cent of financial services providers know the end-of-life dates of all their server-based platforms, while for companies with less than 500 staff the figure was just 2 per cent. Meanwhile, only 22 per cent of companies knew the end-of-life dates for the majority of their applications.
However, financial services organisations are making major investments to modernise their IT infrastructure with 79% either "definitely" or "probably" using the cloud or cloud-based services to replace on-premises end-of-life products. This includes the introduction of new value-add products and customer-centric services to ensure they stay relevant in a rapidly-changing market. To date, only 33 per cent of financial services businesses have migrated half or more of their applications to the cloud, while the rest remains running on legacy infrastructure.
KCOM's research lays bare the effects of legacy infrastructure. An overwhelming majority of respondents (92 per cent) admitted that maintaining server infrastructure was a challenge, with 47 per cent reporting this to be 'very challenging'. Nine in ten also said that processing bottlenecks were a major capacity challenge, 84 per cent identified insufficient test environments, and 83 per cent insufficient back-up storage.
'Many financial services firms do not have a clear and comprehensive view of which components in their IT infrastructure need urgent attention, or where their security issues reside," said Richard Latham, Principal Consultant at KCOM. "A poorly-planned and executed cloud migration may simply achieve the continuation of a flawed system. Migrating to the cloud presents a major opportunity for eliminating end-of-life issues and fixing the associated vulnerabilities – but only if it is managed in a holistic, carefully-planned manner.'
In light of the security concerns that come from end-of-life components, the research also asked IT directors how often they conducted a risk audit, vulnerability scan or penetration test across their server landscape. 14% of financial companies had not completed any kind of audit in the last year, and only 51% had completed the Bank of England stress test, 60% had conducted a PCI audit, 58% hold an ISO 27001 certification and 62% felt they were compliant with FCA guidelines.