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How to Implement a Proactive Cybersecurity Strategy in the Banking Industry

Security leaders at financial institutions need to look beyond digital transformation and plan to meet tomorrow’s risks. 

IT leaders in the banking sector have spent a great deal of time and energy modernizing the banking experience for digital-first users. New customer demands have led to many aspects of the banking and financial services business model being revamped.  

Digitized supply chains, new payment models, and embedded analytics have transformed the customer journey. The personalized, mobile-first user experience has become an industry norm. These developments have changed the way financial institutions’ IT processes interact with the outside world, and they’ve had an extraordinary impact on cybersecurity in banking. 

Banking and finance organizations continue to invest in digital transformation initiatives, challenging their security teams and processes to catch up.  

This leaves a gap between current risk management needs and capabilities that finance leaders must address. 

Make Cybersecurity Core to Your Bank’s Digital Business Roadmap 

Banks and financial service providers are under pressure to support emerging business models through digital transformation. These changes can dramatically impact the way users, assets, and applications interact. Cybersecurity should complete technological modernization initiatives, rather than continually catch up to them. 

This is especially important for banks and financial institutions. These organizations are entirely dependent on customer trust. Leaders who understand how to leverage cybersecurity banking initiatives to build customer trust will have the greatest success in tomorrow’s cyber threat landscape. 

The digital business roadmap provides a comprehensive overview of how the organization can implement innovative technologies now and in the future. These documents require significant buy-in from stakeholders throughout the enterprise.  

It’s vital that finance leaders don’t lose sight of the value of cybersecurity in this context.  

The digital business roadmap must include cybersecurity, and it must focus on three elements that robust, modern security postures in the finance industry all share: 

  • Growth-friendly scalability 
  • Effective log management and rule customization 
  • Behavioral analytics that can detect malicious insiders  

Read More

Insider Threats in Finance: How to Protect Against Undetectable Attacks

Cybersecurity Scalability is Key to Managing Growth 

The first step to scalability involves auditing and understanding the organization’s data sources and ingestion capabilities. Securing a growing team means accommodating more users, more assets, and more endpoints. 

Organizations planning for growth – whether organic or fueled by acquisitions – need to carefully plan their cybersecurity banking roadmap to accommodate the risks and costs associated with growth. 

Often, simply deploying a new cybersecurity solution in the enterprise tech stack is not enough. 

Effective security technologies also include a human component that requires onboarding qualified talent, often at great difficulty and cost. These costs will only grow as the organization’s security needs grow. 

What About Security Automation? 

The need for scalability increases demand for security automation, but there are limits to the kinds of decisions that purely automated solutions can make. Set-and-forget SIEM deployments can’t leverage automation to generate the results finance leaders truly need. 

Without input from qualified product experts, there’s no way to optimize security automation tools on a continuous basis. That results in one of two scenarios: 

  • In the best-case scenario, automated security technologies improve risk management against cyber threats known as of the date of implementation. They boost the organization’s security posture and avoid interfering with other security operations but offer no lasting value against future threats or tech deployments. 
  • In the worst-case scenario, automated processes block legitimate users and confuse security operations. They generate false positives and fail to address critical security vulnerabilities. Employee productivity drops and brand reputation drops without any significant gain to overall security. 

It’s clear to see that security automation is not a cure-all solution for cybersecurity challenges in banking and finance. It is a tool that must be appropriately configured and continuously updated to meet the needs of the organization itself. 


Custom Rules Enable Comprehensive Security 

The typical financial institution uses a combination of legacy systems, vendor solutions, and innovative (but often untested) emerging technologies. At the same time, they are expanding their infrastructure to meet the needs of mobile-first users, deploying new fintech solutions, and accommodating remote workers. 

All these factors combine to create a complex, multi-layered threat landscape for financial services providers. To confront this reality, cybersecurity leaders need to adopt an equally complex, multi-layered security posture. 

SIEM technology is central to this initiative, but default configurations are not up to the task. 

Cybersecurity banking risk management requires a more comprehensive, organization-specific approach to collecting, analyzing, and investigating event logs effectively. 

How Custom Rules Transform Operational Security 

Over the past decade, some finance industry security teams have gone from managing a single in-house network to managing hundreds. The proliferation of cloud technology, managed service vendors, remote workers, and more has changed the way users, assets, and applications interact on a fundamental level. 

No two organizations have the same cybersecurity risk profile. There is no standardized structure for SIEM developers to follow when creating default configurations and rulesets. The best they can do is create rulesets that approximate the way most – or at least some – organizations work. 

This isn’t enough to meet the stringent demands of today’s cybersecurity risk landscape, especially in the banking and financial services sector. 

Organizations that deploy custom rulesets capitalize on their unique strengths while reinforcing their weaknesses. They gain the ability to deploy security resources to the processes that need them most and see warning signs of malicious activity well in advance of what default configurations can offer. 

Behavioral Analytics Enable New Security Capabilities 

Machine learning is one of the most promising areas of technological progress in the cybersecurity industry. User Entity and Behavioral Analytics (UEBA) technology allows financial organizations to protect themselves against insider attacks that are otherwise undetectable. 

Malicious insiders have proven resilient to traditional cybersecurity approaches:  

  • Prevention-based technologies are not feasible because insiders, by definition, enjoy privileged access to sensitive data and personal information. Security teams can’t lock these people out of systems they’re supposed to be in. 
  • Detection-based technologies have no unauthorized activity to report on. SIEM 1.0 technology has no way of analyzing the intent of a privileged user based purely on their actions. From this perspective, business activity and malicious activity look practically the same. 

How Castra Leverages Exabeam to Detect Malicious Insiders 

Exabeam’s UEBA engine uses machine learning to create predictive behavioral models of every user, asset, and application on the network. It establishes an activity baseline from this data and assigns a risk threshold to activities that deviate from that norm. When properly configured, Exabeam can accurately identify compromised user accounts, assets, and applications based on their behaviors alone. 

Castra’s SIEM expertise plays a vital role in configuring Exabeam’s UEBA technology to meet the organization’s real-world security and compliance needs. This includes determining appropriate risk thresholds, modeling account and asset behavior, and configuring automated incident response workflows.  

Deploy Scalable, Customized Cybersecurity Solutions for Banking and Finance 

Achieving digital transformation is just the first step towards establishing an effortless, modern user experience for users and employees alike. New technologies and opportunities will further transform the way financial institutions operate and drive the need for new cybersecurity strategies in banking and finance. 

Make Castra your security partner and gain the ability to scale your security needs to meet growth objectives. Implement automation, custom rules, and behavioral analytics technologies that drive the value of your organization’s financial services and build trust between it and its users. Find out how Castra’s expertise can help you build a comprehensive security roadmap for your organization’s future.