How to Improve Data Security in the Financial Sector
October 3, 2020
The financial industry must take extra steps to protect its customers’ sensitive data out of legal obligation and respect for their privacy. With careful security measures, they can ensure clients feel secure, entrusting them with this vital information.
Despite the state-of-the-art defences companies employ, the threat of a data breach still looms ominously over sensitive information. Fortunately, there are effective strategies to lessen this risk and keep our most valued assets safe.
News of costly data breaches is all too common in the financial sector. From Capital One to other institutions, malicious actors have exploited security loopholes and put sensitive information at risk – something that casts a wary eye on how protected our digital assets are. These companies must remain vigilant in providing adequate measures to secure their customers’ data from exploitation.
Finance Companies as the Leading Recipient of Data Breach
The leading cause of data breaches in the financial sector is an eye-opener; it isn’t those dreaded hackers declaring war online while wearing creepy masks. The truth is that more than half of the occurrences are attributed to internal activities – hidden in the daily mundane activities of employees and everyone else who has access to the IT infrastructure and network.
The finance sector gets the brunt, with 40% of economic crimes related to financial services. This alarming figure puts much pressure on finance companies and services to protect data and improve their infrastructure’s security.
Finding the Right Data Security Solutions
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to improving data security in the financial sector. What you need is a layered solution. The term “layered” means using several methods to protect sensitive data. So, what are these methods? Let’s go through every step in detail.
Step 1 – Understand where your data is and how it flows.
The first step in improving your company’s data security is to know where vital information is located and its movement. Regardless of the type of data or information, you must remember it is constantly moving as your people need to access, download, or transfer it from the server to an endpoint device.
Step 2 – Focus on endpoint protection.
Embracing data mobility is essential in the modern IT and networking world. However, it can create stress for financial companies who worry about keeping client information secure. To tackle this challenge, increased endpoint protection should be a priority – like using geofencing to alert when suspicious activity occurs or remotely deleting devices if needed. Implementing these strategies ensures that your organization gets the most out of valuable mobile capabilities while always protecting its sensitive assets.
Step 3 – Figure out the company’s weakest links.
A data breach happens without warning; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine where the leak comes from. The first and likeliest source of the breach is your company’s weakest link: your employees. Your recent venture into improving data security by buying and incorporating new tech won’t make sense if you don’t pair it with employee training. Acknowledging the shortcomings and inability of your people to cope with increased security measures means that they need to undergo a refresher.
It’s never too late to teach your employees the importance of having the right technology to protect your business against data breaches. Make them realize that the cause or source of the breach may very well come from anyone who forgets to log out or accesses the company’s network through their personal computer.
Step 4 – Perform a more comprehensive security risk assessment.
Identifying your employees as the office’s weakest link is just half the job of figuring out the risk areas. The next step is to perform a security risk assessment to identify other vulnerabilities. The evaluation is, by far, the most effective way to figure out your company’s risk profile. Once you get the facts right, that’s the time you create a strategy to implement stricter security measures.
Step 5 – Periodic audits are necessary, too.
Doing periodic audits isn’t just a practice of efficiency. Every business or company in the financial sector must do it because it brings to light some issues in the IT infrastructure and network which have remained undetected. Audits are also used to ensure that your company’s security policies align with industry standards. You must ensure that your people follow laws and regulations, including regulatory compliance provisions.
Step 6 – Back up your company data and do it regularly.
Data backup in a company that stores crucial client financial information is essential and is not a one-time thing. Even if you have an IT security strategy, you can’t just forget about backing data up once everything is set in motion. Consider it as part of your company’s regular assessment and maintenance strategy.
With secure backups, you are confident that your files are safe from being deleted, exposed, or stolen in case of a data breach or ransomware. But is your data safe from potential physical damage to your IT infrastructure caused by fire, earthquake, flood, and the like? The best data security practice is to establish a storage option that’s outside of your business premises.
Without the collaboration of efforts from all staff, data security can easily be compromised in any corporate setting. As technology advances, so does the need for stricter protection; it’s not enough to rely on just IT infrastructure and personnel – everyone should take ownership when it comes to safeguarding information within the company.