6 Strategies for Safeguarding Your Banking and Finance Applications

Each year, hundreds of breaches occur in the financial landscape. More than any other type of company, banking and fintech businesses need to ensure that they are protected against different kinds of cyber threats. 

New malware emerges, and it’s essential that you’re up-to-date with the threats that your company might face. Thankfully, there are numerous methods that can help protect your business. 

Some of them require additional investments at first, while others are processes that you implement or optimize. This article will go through some of the most efficient strategies for protecting your banking and finance software. 

Importance of cybersecurity in finance

Every company that has at least one user has data. This means that they need to appease regulations that concern the privacy of their users. Furthermore, regulations like GDPR can serve as a guide on how to protect your company better.

By conducting a data privacy audit, you’re going to have a better understanding of your company's state of compliance. However, while both video game companies and banks can get fined for data leakages, international regulations are much stricter on banks and financial institutions. 

This is completely logical, as financial companies handle much more important and sensitive data than the majority of companies in other industries. Online financial applications often require personal identification documents and information such as address. Furthermore, they have an insight into the funds of their user.

Because of harboring sensitive information that can be sold or misused for various personal gains by a hacker, financial institutions are often targets of malicious activities. 

In case of data leakage or any sort of breach, financial institutions can receive significant fines that can even lead to bankruptcy. An even more important aspect of such events is that users won’t trust financial institutions that are known for poor security. 

The cybersecurity of financial companies is directly tied to their reputation and how people perceive them in the market. By investing in cybersecurity as a bank, you’re investing in improving your business as a whole and protecting yourself in the long run. 

1. Regular vulnerability audits

Technical vulnerabilities are one of the most crucial aspects of any platform or website. They can be in the form of an unfixed bug or a lack of permission control. Problems in the code itself can also lead to breaches.

By using audit tools such as a PHP vulnerability scanner, you can discover and analyze vulnerabilities that a website can have. Such software can function completely streamlined, minimizing the need for interference on your experts' behalf. 

What’s great about such tools is that they also provide automatized 24/7 protection. These audits can be beneficial in situations where you’re making large updates to your platforms. Vulnerability tests include a simulation of a malicious attack that will give you an insight into what steps you need to take to increase the platform’s security. 

You can also hire a cybersecurity expert or an agency that will conduct these audits on their own. 

2. Up-to-date software and website

Many companies have gone bankrupt because of an outdated platform. One of the largest gaming companies today, Epic Games, has suffered a significant data breach because they haven’t updated their website since 2004. 

Older versions of plug-ins, themes, and websites usually have vulnerabilities that haven’t been fixed at the time. By having your website and everything that goes with it up-to-date, you’re minimizing the chances of wrongdoers exploiting vulnerabilities or bugs. 

However, some updates can do more harm than good. For example, software developers release a version that wasn’t properly tested for vulnerabilities or wasn’t optimized. Thus, you should always do an analysis and backups before you download the updates.

From personal life and software such as anti-viruses and operating systems, having your software updated to the latest stable version is essential for security. Large systems and networks that financial institutions have need to always be aware of such problems. 

3. Cybersecurity training

When you’re hiring new employees, you can’t expect everyone to be tech-savvy. A network administrator and a clerk have vastly different experiences in the realm of technology and cybersecurity. 

Of course, roles such as software developers and network administrators are expected to have cybersecurity knowledge and experience if they’re working on a banking or a finance application. However, clerks, customer support, and other non-tech employees can pose as a security risk. 

Networks that haven’t been adequately segmented can be quite problematic. A single employee downloading ransomware or a trojan horse can lead to the whole system failing. 

To prevent such situations, training your employees to recognize malware and avoid attacks such as phishing increases your company’s security. Even if an event such as the computer of a bank clerk doesn’t lead to a company-wide shutdown, their computer can still have information that can get stolen or misused. 

Training your employees in this matter can prevent problems that can cost you millions. Employing your in-house cybersecurity employees to conduct training is one way of going with this. You can also purchase training courses or hire a consultant who will help you with such matters. 

4. Multi-factor authentication for users and employees

As a part of your internal security, it’s essential that your employees have advanced authentication protocols. Passwords are usually the basic form of authentication, yet they often aren’t enough to provide strong protection.

Weak passwords can be breached via a dictionary attack or by spidering employee’s social media platforms. However, a password paired with a token generated through a mobile application, email, or SMS is a much better authentication measure.

Although more complicated for implementation than the previous two measures, biometrics provide an incredible amount of security. A fingerprint or an eye scanner can ensure that no one who’s not the employee in question won’t be able to access their account. 

While employees have access to sensitive information and can make changes in the system, users need to be protected as well. You should encourage users to use stronger passwords and multi-factor authentication. 

Strong and random passwords 

The importance of strong passwords shouldn’t be overlooked. Weak passwords can be broken within seconds. Ensure that your employees and users are using passwords that are long and have a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.

Internally, you can also encourage the use of password managers. By using random passwords generated by password managers, you’re both streamlining the login processes and making it more secure. 

5. Access control measures 

Not all employees should have access to all resources. Financial institutions consist of multiple departments, each having its responsibilities and processes. There’s also a seniority level for each employee.

As a decision-maker, you should ensure that your employees have adequate permissions. This goes both ways. They need to have access to tools and resources they commonly use, ensuring that there aren’t any setbacks in their work. 

On the other hand, they need to have restricted access to information beyond their role. This ensures that there won’t be problems with sharing sensitive information with competitors or misusing intellectual property.

The way in which you should take care of access control depends on what type of system you’re using. This is why it’s important to not neglect who you’re giving this responsibility to. 

6. Incident response

While the goal of this article is to give you some of the most helpful strategies for protecting your banking business, it’s still important to mention the actions to take if everything else fails. All businesses must have an incident response system that will ensure that the attack is handled adequately.

This includes finding the source of the problem, isolating it, and then dealing with the consequences that it causes. Incident response management ensures that the damage is minimized, or even prevented if an attack doesn’t fully succeed. 

Safeguarding banking and finance applications is essential for success in the industry

The list of ways in which you can protect your business from wrongdoers is much longer than this. However, implementing at least one of these methods can significantly help you with avoiding catastrophic incidents. 

Starting from external methods such as vulnerability audits up to better internal defenses in the form of cybersecurity protocols and better passwords, protecting your company includes different methods. 

The more of them you use, the lower the chances of an attack succeeding. Unfortunately, there isn’t a guarantee that your company will always be 100% protected against risks. In any way, you should do everything that’s in your power to protect against different threats. 

About Writer

Veljko is a student of information technology who paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He enjoys researching topics such as robotics and programming and cultivates his knowledge in philosophy, classical literature, and fitness. Veljko’s favorite writers are Borislav Pekić, Miloš Crnjanski, and Ernest Hemingway. 



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