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Show me the money – Financial Services Need to Rethink Security

Financial institutions are under attack. As gatekeepers to consumers’ and enterprises’ most personal and private information, this industry serves as one of the most lucrative avenues for cybercriminals to pursue. In response, financial services organizations have developed unsustainable security infrastructures that are characterized by a huge proliferation of tools to address “the next big thing” in cyber threats.

As highly publicized breaches continue against financial institutions, organizations are stuck in a frustratingly reactive cycle: with every emerging attack a  new tool or widget is  added to an already  complex arsenal of security solutions. This stockpile of tools often lack automation and Big Data analytics capabilities, preventing IT teams from being able to catalog and respond to threats in a timely manner. Over time, organizations are left struggling to patch holes and close siloed security gaps, always looking to identify the next vulnerability while making it difficult to get ahead.

The industry must move beyond this segregated approach to better protect themselves and their customers. According to Closing the Cybersecurity Gaps in Financial Services, a global survey from Ovum and sponsored by McAfee, an overwhelming number of financial institutions, especially Tier 1 and 2, deploy between 100-200 disparate security solutions.  The report also finds that three percent of global financial services institutions use over 100 security solutions, reducing effectiveness and creating additional operational cost increasing their organization’s cyber risk exposure. Adding to security teams’ burdens: 37 percent of respondents deal with over 200,000 daily security alerts. Security teams are overwhelmed with sifting through and prioritizing the vast amounts of alerts that each security tool is generating often with limited threat intelligence sharing between the various tools in a cohesive and adaptive manner. The sheer amount of manpower required to accurately sift through each alert drains resources and leaves security teams drowning in IT complexity. Not surprisingly, over a third of respondents across EMEA, US and APAC listed integrating and maintaining disparate security tools as their top operational pain point.

Financial institutions operate in a highly complex and interconnected financial ecosystem connecting thousands of entities, networks and users across the globe. Petabytes of data, billions of messages and transactions flow across this interconnected system on a daily basis and make it a daunting task to monitor, detect and block anomalous activities, elusive threats and under-the-radar attacks in real-time. These worries are corroborated by the Ovum study, where 40 percent of respondents indicated that faster threat discovery is their first or second security priority. To enable quicker threat detection, over 70 percent of organizations are planning strategic investments in cloud, web and ATM security.

Ovum highlights some promising trends that point towards a better, more secure future for these organizations. Financial institutions have undergone a significant shift in the decision-making process for cybersecurity initiatives, with teams outside IT such as fraud, compliance, risk management and operations all now taking part. Forty-eight percent of respondents from the fraud team reported they were a decision maker in their company’s cybersecurity initiatives, followed by compliance and risk management – both reporting over 37 percent. This shift highlights the high priority level that financial institutions have put on cybersecurity, which is well-warranted considering that breaches will have severe consequences that reach as far as to fraud, insider/outsider collusion, regulatory compliance and legal. In this regard, these organizations are regarded as the gold standards that all other industries should aspire to.

The financial services industry is in the beginning stages of another industry-wide shift, as over 60 percent of respondents agree that the industry needs better, not more, security tools, which will ultimately enable greater automation, integration and orchestration of tasks, as well as end-to-end visibility across the security infrastructure. The next big financial breach continues to be one of the biggest concerns in the financial services industry, constantly serving as a reminder to organizations for the need of a unified and fully implemented security strategy. Greater automation, integration and orchestration are necessary first steps to provide relief to these teams, which can only be delivered through a unified threat defense architecture. The transformation to an open source communications fabric offers a significant impact on the efficiency and effectiveness for organizations by simplifying the integration of disparate tools and enabling the sharing of threat data.

Join McAfee and a host of financial experts for Transforming Cybersecurity in Financial Services, a free webinar on Thursday, June 22, 2017, at 10 a.m. EST to learn more on current gaps and challenges in financial IT security, emerging threat vectors and attacks, use of machine learning and advanced analytics, best practices that can benefit financial institutions and the path forward.

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