Five Cybersecurity Challenges Facing Financial Services Organizations Today

The financial services industry is faced with a growing number of ever-evolving cybersecurity challenges. Issues of utmost concern include stifling compliance regulations, the struggle to secure customer data and third-party risk. The landscape is even becoming rockier for organizations that have mastered cybersecurity as they endeavor to keep up with rising customer expectations, not to mention fluid and increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tactics.

Cybersecurity Challenges for Financial Organizations

Below are five of the most pressing challenges facing cybersecurity professionals in the financial services industry:

1. Compliance, Compliance, Compliance

European businesses have to deal with a growing number of compliance mandates and security regulations, including the massively influential European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), among countless others. Organizations are faced with multiple views on compliance obligations and challenged to reconcile overlaps and inconsistencies between mandates. As a result, excessive controls and silo-based solutions are leading to large increases in cost and complexity.

Compliance programs are designed to improve matters, so one could argue it’s better than nothing. But compliance efforts can also be counterproductive, diverting scarce resources away from more immediate, specific risks. Compliance plays a large part in ensuring financial organizations address the issue of cybersecurity, but a compliant IT environment is not necessarily a secure one.

Learn more about the Cybersecurity challenge within the Financial Services industry

2. Protecting Privacy and Data Security

Many financial organizations neither identify nor classify data based on sensitivity and criticality. These organizations lack a crucial understanding of which information matters to them most. This can be both structured and unstructured data, such as board minutes held on a company intranet.

There has been too much focus on the deployment of point multivendor solutions without integration to manage intentional or unintentional data access and loss. In some cases, we have seen as many 45 different vendors across an enterprise. These solutions lack an organizationwide, integrated approach to adequately protect data based on risk, which makes it difficult to align an organization’s operating model and supporting environment to meet the increasing regulatory requirements.

3. Managing Third-Party Risk

Many financial organizations traditionally participate in partnerships and outsource services to reduce costs. Today, more companies are opting to adopt cloud services to carry out internal functions for the same reason. Like any traditional outsourcing contract, cloud service agreements impose intricate data sharing regulations and generate a host of new cybersecurity challenges, especially if the services span multiple locales and regulatory jurisdictions.

Security teams must monitor and prioritize these challenges to ensure that these solutions align with the organization’s mission and protect data effectively throughout its life cycle.

4. Rising Expectations

A shift from the traditional business model to a real-time, online, customer-centric digital model has led to high customer expectations. Clients and new prospects demand an exceptional digital experience delivered through various real-time, digital channels on a 24/7 basis. Additionally, organizations may face financial penalties imposed by strict service-level agreements if they fail to meet those rising expectations.

5. Emerging and Advanced Threats

Cybersecurity is a dynamic and difficult problem to solve. Malicious actors are typically unknown, covert, armed with very specialized technical skills and, in some cases, well-funded. Their objective is simple: to look for the weakest link and exploit it. History shows that the cybercriminals know how to exploit these weaknesses almost at will.

To learn more, download our white paper on “The Cybersecurity Challenge Within the Financial Services Industry.”

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Darren Craig

Director of Security of Financial Services, IBM Europe

Darren Craig is the Director of Security of Financial Services for IBM Europe. He is a global business executive, consultant and entrepreneur with over twenty-three years of experience in the information technology business, and has spent the last seventeen years in the area of risk management and information security.