Max Locatelli, Regional Director Western Europe at Infoblox
Financial Services (FS) firms have traditionally faced a host of different obstacles when it comes to protecting their users’ data from cybercriminals. With a growing number of regional regulation requirements and laws as well as general security and compliance concerns, the landscape is growing increasingly complex each year. Add to this the many layers of sensitive and financial information that they regularly handle and it’s easy to see why FS organisations have become one of the most high-value targets for those looking to make a quick profit. This was only exacerbated when the pandemic broke out last year.
As office closures took hold and the majority of operations became virtual, many FS organisations were forced to embrace digital transformation at a rapid pace in order to continue to deliver their services and try to achieve some level of “business-as-usual.” As a result, the digital attack surface these organisations had to defend expanded significantly. Individuals moving from centralised locations — i.e. the office — to the edge of the network, brought greater risk and many FS organisations found themselves vulnerable. Meanwhile, innovative cybercriminals were able to adapt rapidly and take advantage of the chaos to launch multiple attacks. In fact, a recent cybersecurity report from Infoblox — released in May 2021 — found that over half of all FS firms (54%) were hit by data breaches during a 12-month period, while nearly half (49%) encountered cloud-based malware attacks.
With hackers getting more sophisticated and a new wave of cyberattacks just around the corner, FS organisations need to act today. If they fail to adapt to the landscape and adopt a proactive approach to cybersecurity, the consequences could be severe.
A costly business
For FS organisations, a single data breach can have far reaching consequences. Depending on the severity of the attack, and how much and what type of data is impacted, some might never fully bounce back.
For example, one of the biggest data breaches in recent history involved US-based credit rating agency Equifax. In 2017, due to flaws in the company’s systems, 145 million people’s personal records were compromised by hackers. The breach was sizable but what really made it so alarming was the sensitive nature of the breached data, which ranged from full names and addresses to credit card information. Equifax has now revealed that costs relating to the incident, as well as expenditure on IT and data security, have reached at least $1.35 billion, excluding legal fees for lawsuits.
Equifax is far from being the only company to face severe financial repercussions following a breach. In fact, Infoblox’s report discovered that on average, FS firms that experienced a data breach reported an estimated average loss of roughly $4.2 million. Of course, this goes up if we take into account the unplanned network outages that often follow a successful cyberattack.
Financial repercussions are the top impact of network outage attacks, with 60% of FS organisations agreeing. However, it’s not just the initial cost that victims need to worry about. Almost half (45%) of respondents also highlighted the reputational damage caused by a breach. This can have a long-term impact, both on retaining current customers and the ability to win new ones. In today’s ultra-connected, competitive landscape, it ultimately could be the difference between a business thriving and failing.
A new threat landscape calls for a new security approach
With recent research discovering that one in four UK FS workers would like to work fully remote post-pandemic and the vast majority (69%) in favour of a hybrid model – the digital landscape is only becoming more complex. Network architecture will no longer be centralised on a physical campus, with a core data center into which users connect. This requires security practices to adapt to a cloud-first environment. It’s far from surprising that PwC recently discovered that 70% of firms are planning to invest more in cybersecurity over the next 12 months.
In order to make these investments count and defend against the latest and most sophisticated threats, FS organisations must set strong IT foundations for defending the expanded enterprise. One way to achieve this is to use cloud-managed DDI to simplify and scale connectivity across all corporate devices wherever they sit . This integration of Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and IP address management (IPAM) into a unified service, is designed with the modern borderless enterprise in mind, to eliminate the management complexities of backhauling traffic through the traditional branch office.
DDI provides visibility into the activities of each connected device — giving networking teams deeper insight into potentially suspicious activities. 90% of malware touches DNS — the first D in DDI — when entering or leaving the network, making DNS a critical detection tool that, when connected to the security stack, can enable stronger threat remediation for FS businesses. Additionally, DDI includes a software-defined perimeter that supports network identity and context for policy rules and their enforcement in security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR); security information and event management (SIEM); cloud access security brokers (CASBs); zero trust; next-generation firewalls and more. Ultimately, DDI enables FS firms to boost control and quickly detect and fix any vulnerabilities, no matter where they originate or where users are based. It could be an invaluable tool in our new hybrid landscape.
Whilst every single organisation operating in the world today is a potential victim of cybercrime, FS firms are a particularly obvious target. In order to avoid the potentially devastating cyberattacks of tomorrow, action needs to be taken today. Cybersecurity today needs a proactive approach that stretches across the extended infrastructure and protects users no matter where they are located. It is only then that FS organisations can truly say that they are adequately prepared for whatever security threat is around the corner.
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