The Security Intelligence in The Financial Services

Security intelligence is the data related to safeguarding an organization from any outside and inside threats along with the processes, and policies developed to accumulate and evaluate the information.

It can also be referred to as the actual collection, standardization, and analysis of the data created by users, applications, and structures that influence the IT security and risk position of a business.

On a daily basis, information flows in organizations for the senior management to make smart decisions. The various stakeholders (employees, customers, contractors) are interfaced through various technologies.

However, the technological infrastructure can also result in serious security issues. The probable areas of intrusion are unlimited. Security experts and business leaders are trying to find an answer to the question – Is it feasible to have a robust security in an increasingly interfaced environment?

Though the answer is yes, it needs a radical transformation in processes and practices encompassing the financial services sector. The focus is not only on IT. Robust security facilitates a positive customer experience.

Cybercrime and Profitability

Financial institutions are at great risk since they are perceived to be an easy target for cybercriminals. According to a survey by IBM, “Financial markets, insurance, computer and professional services together account for over 40% of all security incidents worldwide.”

The losses, pertaining to cybercrime in other sectors could be due to industrial intelligence and fraud related to intellectual property, but in banking, online fraud is a possibility.

Any fraud related to the intellectual property and industrial intelligence could lead to reduced shareholder value, shut down of the business and net financial losses. These are the issues impacting the global financial sector, not only because the main reasons are not identified or the disruption to the customer is immediate, but also because they can result in a significant loss of money.

As per Andrew Haldane, Financial Stability Director at the Bank of England, “Cyber-risk has become a more pressing concern than economic depression and the Eurozone crisis, as it is a rapidly rising area of risk with potentially systemic implications”.

Comprehending the seriousness of the security risk is only a beginning. Financial institutions must establish an in-depth security intelligence strategy that would enable the financial institutions to have an insight into the perceived threats.

Financial institutions leverage top-notch analytics to get an understanding of:

  • The types of attacks that are occurring.
  • The probable source of the attacks.
  • The technology used by the cyber criminals.
  • Weak spots that could be exploited in the future.

Michael Davison, Banking and Financial Markets, IBM, stated,” There’s not another single issue that unites the interests of so many people at senior levels of banks. It unites technology, the CFO, security and compliance functions. But cybersecurity is also mission critical for people running lines of business and who are running P&Ls. So quite rightly it sits on the Board agenda. But there’s still work to do to educate Boards about the urgency of an effective response to the rapidly changing environment.”

Financial institutions must implement the following practices to get the balance between the required innovation and the related risk:

Establish a risk-conscious culture

  • An organizational transformation with an emphasis on zero tolerance towards a security failure must be established.
  • An initiative encompassing the organizational hierarchy to execute smart analytics and automated response competencies is needed to identify and resolve issues.

Safeguard the Working Environment

The functions in distinct devices must be examined by a centralized authority and the wide array of information in an institution must be categorized, tagged with its risk profile and circulated to the concerned personnel.

Security Design

The greatest problem with the IT systems and the unnecessary costs is from executing services initially and looking at security afterwards. Security has to be a part of the application from the first phase of design.

Ensure A Safe Environment

If the system is secure, security personnel can monitor every program that’s functioning; ensure it is ongoing and operating at optimal level.

Manage the Network

Organizations that route approved data through controlled entry points will be in a better position to identify and separate the malware.

Cloud Based Security

To prosper in a cloud scenario, organizations should possess the technology to operate in a secluded environment and track probable issues.

Involve Vendors

An organization’s security strategy must also involve its vendors and efforts must be made to establish the best practices among the vendors.

Financial firms have been a major target for malware attacks. Several aspects are impacting the financial sector. The direct connection between the breach of several personally identifiable information (PII) to the profitability has not been lost on the global financial stakeholders. This has led to the implementation of several global security projects.

A hazardous type of malware for online financial transactions is “Man-in-the-Browser” intrusions. It happens when a malicious program affects an internet browser. The program adjusts activities conducted by the user and in some instances, can initiate actions independently. It could lead to online stealing.

Financial institutions that can transform radically at a fundamental level, the way they function would be safeguarded.

The aim of enterprise security could initially emphasis on IT structures, it must be extended from the technology personnel & their systems to each individual within the organization, and all the stakeholders conducting business with it.

Financial firms must comprehend the data that they have, which must be made available to the system, where they can compare and develop a real understanding of the actual threats and contingencies that may compromise the business.

Enterprise Security for Financial Services: Access and Identity

Security is a major issue for companies providing financial services. The nature of security threats to such companies is mostly of two kinds, identity and access. Financial institutions need to monitor the access to crucial data, and see to it that there is no fraud committed through impersonation.

While taking care of security issues, financial sectors must also keep in mind costs, maintenance, and updates etc.

Enterprise Security: Access and Identity:
Identity and access management is about applying the right technology to security applications. Today, security is about automation, aligning products, platforms, and utilizing professional services. From isolated systems to integrated security solutions, enterprise security has come a long way.

Security Basics:
Here are some things to keep in mind when building an enterprise security system.

1) Overheads:
Consider the cost of the application, maintenance, and whether it will help your business become more productive.

2) Quality:
Can the system enforce a planned password policy? Will it be able to restrict certain kinds of access to certain users?

3) Use:
Is the security service easy to use? Can it be accessed from a central location?

Installing an Enterprise Security System:

Setting up a security system is not easy and it involves:

o Aligning technology and the functioning of the organization

o Access based on the identity of a person

o Having a strategy in place before installing the system

o Centralized access and controls

o Reducing operational complexity

Enterprise Security: Financial Services Audit
Before setting up an enterprise security service, you need to go in for a comprehensive financial services audit. This will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your security system. The audit should ideally touch on the following areas.

1) GAP Analysis:
This will map the state of security preparedness of your company.

2) Risk Analysis:
Do a review of the existing threats to your financial services.

3) Security Assessment:
Find out any flaws in the security system.

4) Compliance to Regulations:
See if the security system complies with various regulations.

5) Remedial Measures:
Suggest ways to improve flawed security applications.

Enterprise Security: Other Issues
Apart from identity and access, other issues that you may need to discuss while going in for a security application are:

1) Malware attacks on your network.

2) Spyware and Trojan horses.

Hiring the right security service provider is crucial if you wish to guard against the many security threats that can cripple the financial services of your company. There are a number of service providers that will help you plan a strong line of defense, identify and rectify the flaws in your security applications, and help with the maintenance and updating of the system. You simply need to select the right one.

Do Financial Services Agents & Brokers Need Wakeup Advice?

Agents in the financial services sector play a crucial role in sustaining the business. Financial services encompass broad sub verticals like – banking, insurance, and investment funds companies where their crucial role like building relationships and getting business volumes cannot be underestimated.

Personalized sales are the approach set by agents and brokers for decades. They carry a lot of information on products, markets, and prices. But after the IoT, big data and analytics came to the center stage, it became imperative for agents and brokers to stay relevant. The mobile customers supported by mobile workforce of businesses are posing existential threats to agents and brokers. Many may wonder – is this the end of the road for brokers and agents?

Financial services honchos may consider eliminating the role of agents attracting new prospects with reduced premium or discounts. But wait a bit more before you send the execution order as they have the firepower still. It is into this area focused study is required.

Can Agents Stay Relevant?

Now the question before us is, are agents and brokers relevant? First of all they have time tested relationship with a large number of accounts whom they assiduously nurtured. Today, the brokers themselves are mobile and know the IT tools to nurture their audience. With the help of IT apps on their mobile they go for client acquisition faster. In this process, they:

• Contact their prospects and educate them about the products.
• Provide valuable pieces of advice on most feasible product for them.
• Evaluate the performance of securities.
• Build relationship after gaining an understanding on every aspect of customer relationships.

We are coming to the important aspect. Today technology obsolescence is making the role of agents irrelevant. To some extent it is true if the mobile customers make a total shift from agents and have direct interaction with the company. But the question is how feasible is that idea. We all know in our busy schedules, giving priority be it paying premium or buying stocks may not be appealing to all with a few exceptions. The reason behind this is people are not that self motivated and agents step into this gap with their relationship nurturing skills.

In areas like spending money people are little scary as well as slow decision makers. This cannot be construed as weakness but in fact it is wisdom as sensible ones do lot of research and thinking before they take the plunge. What does this mean for the financial services sector? Financial sector services may be enthusiastic about IT tools which helps the customers to take informed decisions. But what is the exact scenario? People will do all research with the tools on mobile but many will be unlikely to take the final purchase decision because there is a need for a resource person to give relevant and contextual information on products and services. This should be followed by the ability to close the deal once the curiosity level is raised to the highest. Who can replace agents or brokers who had been doing this for decades?

So, now the readers might have understood the value of agents in clinching the deal. Getting business is not an ordinary deal. It requires a lot of effort, constant follow up on clients to arrive at a decision. Just SMS alerts won’t do the trick. Having said this, let us consider how the agents can be used creatively with technology in this era of technology disruption. We also need to consider how agents can be empowered with technology and how.

Agents Can Be on Survival Mode with IT Tools

To survive in today’s volatile markets, what is most needed is actionable information. Agents who are working overtime in building relationships and closing deals definitely require latest IT tools, to be specific BI, big data and analytics tools to take key decisions. In the case of insurance, BI tools can help the agents and brokers to derive key insights on customers and understand their inclination to offer customized products or solutions. BI dashboards will help them to manage relationships effectively. So is the case with banking and investment companies who hire third parties for business development.

Application of analytics comes in different areas like content analytics, context analytics and business analytics. In content analytics unstructured data like call center logs, sensor data, audio, video data can be analyzed to track trends, customer responses, etc. In context analytics data is analyzed to understand the context which is vital to take context based decisions. In business analytics patterns, behaviors or trends are discovered through statistical analysis. Last but not least is predictive analytics where application of techniques like statistical analysis, regression analysis, correlation analysis, cluster analysis, social media analytics etc., are applied for new product development.

Agents are catalysts in information gathering as they move with people and trigger discussions on products and services. Because of this stronger reason, one cannot conclude that agents are on their way out in the disruptive technology era. But at the same time agents should take recourse to IT for their survival as well as the survival of financial services businesses. Let time tell the rest.