IT Security Considerations for the Financial Industry

IT Security Considerations for the Financial Industry

July 24th, 2013

Increasing globalization, regulations, industry consolidation and dwindling margins are forcing banks to operate more efficiently. In addition, with growing customer demands for fast, anytime access to account information and lower switching costs, financial institutions must differentiate their brand from competitors to attract and retain customers. Along with this, security should remain top-of-mind.

Below are five IT security considerations for the financial industry:

  • Compliance – As a highly regulated industry with strict controls over information security and customer privacy, firms must balance opportunities with the risks and demands of their customers. In order to assist with compliance, companies should consider universal applications employed across departments and geographically dispersed locations. In this way, if there are any changes to regulations, which there inevitably will be, corporations need not deal with updating multiple applications and wasting an untold number of man-hours testing to ensure the various systems not only are brought back into compliance but work together.

  • Access to Personal Data – Financial organizations keep mountains of personal data on individuals and businesses and so are leading targets for cyber threats and identity thieves. There is also the possibility of threats from within. Workers can copy, print and electronically transfer documents containing customer data. This data can fall into the wrong hands due to lax security standards, carelessness or deliberate acts. Companies must prepare for unknown outside threats as well as considering how to protect against employees who may misuse sensitive information while employed at the company or after they leave.

  • Mobilization/BYOD – Sensitive information and documents are increasingly stored on mobile and/or employee-owned devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. When working outside the office, employees may keep these documents on their mobile devices to have on-hand as needed. As such, it is crucial for IT security to be able to remotely control documents, especially in the event the device is lost or stolen.

  • On the other hand, as an information-driven industry, the financial services organizations are in a key position to take advantage of the productivity benefits offered by mobile IT. Mobile technology allows today’s information workers to cut the cord and access the latest data and applications from wherever they are. Conversations can be taken to the customer, with the resulting processes initiated immediately in real-time rather than in batch mode back at the office.

  • Cloud Computing & Virtualization – Cloud computing and virtualization are becoming increasingly relevant for financial institutions. These technologies offer the opportunity to grow revenues, reduce costs and mitigate risk. Virtualization can assist by implementing better endpoint controls. Virtualization, both at the endpoint and in the data center, can simplify the workspace and streamline tasks. With less time spent managing endpoint and storage devices, more time can be spent focusing on customers. Additionally, cloud-based services can help manage core tasks and processes associated with BYOD.

  • IP Telephony – There are always security concerns as employees move from network to network. Financial institutions need to ensure the same security standards are applied inside and out of the office. IP telephony allows an organization to leverage 128-bit security, from any device and from nearly anywhere.

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