With dynamic ecosystem demands and growing customer expectations, the finance and banking industry has undergone a continuous transformation in recent years.
For the most part, the industry has been heavily adopting cloud computing to improve its agility, scalability, and cost-efficiency. Cloud-based infrastructure enables financial institutions to access and analyze enormous amounts of data in real-time and deploy new services and products more quickly.
Furthermore, mobile banking has become an essential part of the digital infrastructure of financial institutions. With customers increasingly using apps to manage their accounts, make payments, and access financial services on the go, the industry has been investing in mobile app development to enhance the user experience.
Although the rapid development practices and distributed IT environments increase operational efficiency, they come with their fair share of security challenges. The finance and banking industry deals with colossal amounts of sensitive information, including customers’ PII and cardholder data, making it susceptible to data breaches and theft.
In this blog, we discuss the financial and banking industry’s operational and privileged access security challenges and develop solutions to mitigate these challenges.
The Current State of Finance and Banking and its Digital Infrastructure – Challenges
Operational and Cybersecurity Challenges
- The Complex Architecture of Finance and Banking
Financial institutions often have complex IT environments with multiple systems and applications that require privileged access. Managing and securing these privileged accounts can be a daunting task.
- Cyber Risks
In the digital age, cybersecurity in banking is a major issue as banks have larger attack surfaces than ever. The finance and banking sector is a prime target of cyber criminals due to the sensitive nature of the data and transactions it handles. Banks and financial institutions must constantly invest in cybersecurity measures to protect against data breaches, theft, and fraud.
The finance and banking industry is subject to a range of regulatory requirements, such as PCI DSS, GLBA, and SOX, which require them to implement strong security controls and monitor privileged access. Compliance with these norms can be costly and time-consuming, especially when dealing with multiple frameworks.
- Insider Threats
Insiders, such as malicious employees or contractors, pose a significant risk to financial institutions. These individuals may abuse their privileged access to steal sensitive data or commit fraud. On the other hand, human error has a role in inviting phishing attacks and malware downloads. Detecting and preventing these threats requires advanced security controls, constant monitoring, and employee training.
- Vendor Management
Financial institutions often work with third-party vendors who require privileged access to their systems and applications. Managing and securing this access can be challenging, as it requires ensuring each vendor has appropriate access levels and security controls.
- Operational Efficiency
One of the challenges the finance and banking industry faces is to ensure that security is followed during software development practices, with minimal impact on the speed and agility of application development.
Access Security Challenges
- Limited Visibility and Control
Often, distributed teams work on various components of the same financial application. This can create communication gaps and inconsistencies in the security configurations, such as encryption settings and firewall rules. Also, the limited visibility over software development can result in little to no monitoring and reporting capabilities and a lack of security accountability.
- Insecure Code Practices
Insecure code practices include credential hardcoding, not implementing secure communication protocols such as HTTPS, the using weak session IDs and duplicating insecure code snippets and libraries. These practices can open exploitable vulnerabilities, resulting in malware injection attacks, unauthorized access, and compliance violations.
- Inadequate Risk Assessment
With increased focus on speed, security risk assessment can sometimes be overlooked or downplayed in the SDLC. This can result in applications being released with exploitable gaps and intrusion points that attackers can leverage to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.
- Insufficient Access Controls
Access controls are a set of rules and policies to regulate user access to enterprise systems and data. When these access controls are not configured correctly, it can lead to a security breach. The impact of improper access controls includes:
- Unauthorized Access
- Privilege Escalation
- Insider Attacks
- Compliance Violations
So then, what is the solution that can tackle all these challenges?
Privileged Access Management (PAM)!
PAM and its Major Drivers that Help Tackle the Challenges Facing Finance and Banking
As the number of elevated users increases, securing access to privileged accounts is essential. Implementing Privileged Access Management (PAM) strategy can mitigate the security challenges of finance and banking institutions. So, what is PAM?
Privileged Access Management, or PAM, is a set of policies, procedures, and tools designed to manage and secure privileged access to critical systems and data.
Here are some ways PAM can help the finance and banking sector overcome cybersecurity challenges:
- Privileged access management (PAM) solutions can help financial institutions tackle the complexity of their IT environments by providing centralized management and control over privileged accounts.
- Automated Password Management: PAM can help protect against cybersecurity threats by securing privileged accounts, often targeted by cybercriminals. PAM tools protect these accounts by enforcing strong password management with an encrypted vault and periodic rotations to prevent the compromise of credentials.
- Secrets Management: DevOps Secrets Management helps development and operations teams protect hardcoded credentials, passwords and SSH keys by storing them in centralized vaults.
- Achieve Cybersecurity Compliance: The finance and banking industry can hugely benefit from PAM solutions as they help comply with regulatory requirements related to privileged access, such as those outlined in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). PAM tools can provide auditing and reporting capabilities to demonstrate compliance with these regulations.
- PAM can help the finance and banking sector adapt to technological disruption by providing a secure framework for managing access to new digital platforms and technologies. PAM tools can be integrated with other digital platforms to ensure secure and compliant access to critical systems and data.
- Privileged Account Lifecycle Management: PAM solutions can help streamline the management of privileged accounts, reducing the burden on IT staff and improving operational efficiency.
- User Event Monitoring: Not just the external threats, PAM solutions can also help mitigate the risk of insider threats that plague the finance and banking sector by providing granular access controls, activity monitoring, and automated alerting for suspicious activity.
- Remote Device Security: PAM solutions can help with vendor risk management by providing secure remote access and the ability to revoke access when vendor relationships end.
The Bottom Line
With numerous privileged user identities, the task of access security and management becomes difficult. Also, manual privileged access management does not go hand in hand with modern application development practices.
Sectona’s PAM is a comprehensive solution designed to address the specific needs of finance and banking industry. The tool is built with cutting-edge customizable features that are robust and easy to implement.
With Sectona, you can secure DevOps secrets, store privileged user credentials in purpose-built vault, monitor user activity around the clock, secure endpoint access and many more.
Explore other features of Sectona’s Privileged Access Management