Threat Modeling for Financial Services Security

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In the recent US Securities and Exchange Commission report Cybersecurity and Resiliency Observations, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations outlined the cybersecurity approaches that financial companies implement to improve their security posture. The SEC audited thousands of broker-dealers, investment advisers, national security exchanges and other firms registered with the SEC. The report revealed activities involved in cybersecurity risk mitigation,  operational resiliency maintenance and more. The report contains findings from across the spectrum with advice to help organizations to enhance their cybersecurity strategy.

The financial sector is considered part of critical infrastructure because it drives economic activities through its provision of financial services for businesses and individuals. Instilling the right practices to confront cyber risk in the financial IT ecosystem is of crucial importance. DevOps teams and security experts are in a constant struggle to meet program management duties, while ensuring user privacy and innovation.

Financial Industry Among the Most Targeted With No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

It is well-known that the financial services industry is among the most targeted by cybercriminals. Hackers use ransomware and social engineering tactics such as spearphishing to target the exact industry where the money is. In this situation, building a reliable information security program with threat modeling is essential for success.

Security should be an urgent matter for financial institutions. However, the level of awareness across the industry fluctuates and many companies struggle to focus on intricate challenges. Knowing full-well that there is no one-size-fits-all, differences occur on how each entity handles:

  • Governance and risk management
  • Access rights and controls
  • Data loss prevention
  • Mobile security
  • Incident response and resiliency
  • Vendor management
  • Training and awareness

Security Challenges Facing the Financial Industry

From phishing attacks to insider threats, financial institutions of all sizes face a broad range of threats, mainly with the growth of online and mobile banking. Here are some of the main challenges in the financial industry:

Regulatory Concerns 

Financial institutions must adhere to numerous regulations. Maintaining compliance with with any one of these regulating bodies can be complicated enough, but the cost of non-compliance can be damaging, when it comes to the privacy of personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive, confidential organization data.

Cloud Migration Security a Concern as Organizations Adopt CDLC

As more financial corporations migrate to the cloud, they face the challenge of guaranteeing cloud workloads  meet security standards – not only for existing threats, but also for new and emerging. ThreatModeler, with its integration with AWS (and other cloud services), enables organizations to visualize and review a financial institution’s attack surface, identify potential threats, create tickets to implement the proper security controls, and send all threat findings up to senior leaders to decide on the right threat mitigation strategy.

Experienced Cybercriminals Know the Ins and Outs to Target Financial Institutions

Hackers are now more proficient than ever at taking advantage of low hanging fruits to infiltrate the attack surface and wreak greater havoc. Cybercrime involving financial organizations has, over the past decade and ending up in the theft of billions of dollars. In 2017, for example, banks lost $16.8 billion to cybercriminals.

Fraud Detection a Challenge with So Many Customer Behaviors

Financial institutions process the comprehensive financial information of thousands of people, making it more challenging to trace illegal activity. With so many people exhibiting diverse financial behaviors, identifying normal behavior from possible fraud poses a risk management challenge.

Advances in Technology and Improved Customer Experience Increase Risk

The financial industry is continually under attack from bad actor trying to collect important financial information through vulnerabilities within financial IT infrastructure and applications. This challenge is aggravated by the fact that attack surface entry points on web applications, insecure mobile devices and IoT-embedded devices must be secured. As more customers seek the ease and convenience that technology brings, they must deal with an expanding attack surface with more attack vectors in need of patches and updates.

Improving Cybersecurity Practices in Financial Institutions

To prevent the destructive outcomes of a data breach and adhere to internal and external policy compliance, many financial institutions are taking a proactive approach to addressing security challenges. Here are some ways for financial corporations to get started:

  • Improve your security strategy: align senior leadership on security goals and objectives. Make it a point to understand, prioritize, communicate and mitigate risk. Ensure the right senior leadership is attentive and engaged with cybersecurity strategy.
  • Work with security experts: as you struggle with threats posing a high risk to your financial institution, it is important to educate your team on the best cybersecurity practices. Take advantage of cybersecurity professional services and learn threat intelligence analysis tools. Once you have a proficient, security-minded team in place, turn to automated applications such as ThreatModeler to develop security mindedness with less reliance on security experts.
  • Think like a hacker: It is always important to put yourself in your enemy’s shoes. Build and retain active strategies to instinctively influence threat intelligence information and perform your strategy with objectivity. ThreatModeler enables you to think like a hacker by understanding the various ways they can infiltrate the attack surface.
  • Pay attention to potential risks: Even the slightest vulnerability can become a massively huge threat for your financial institution. Concentrate on your main tasks as well as knowing your assets, recognizing your firm’s vulnerabilities and attack surfaces, categorizing data through an information asset audit, utilizing the right authentication and guaranteeing security.
  • Find the right mitigation strategy: Finding the right strategy to mitigate potential threats is not difficult if you take a proactive, preventative approach. Continually adapt to change and update policy and approach to address security gaps.

ThreatModeler Can Help Your Financial Institution to Prevent a Data Breach

Threat Modeling can help financial institutions of all sizes to prevent irregularities or errors in data management, while preventing liabilities that may occur. Threat modeling helps organizations to understand their attack surface and the performance of data storage security.

ThreatModeler has developed an automated platform for developers, operations and security teams to better understand their attack surface. ThreatModeler is equipped with the Threat Intelligence Framework, which contains content from threat intelligence authorities such as AWS (CIS), OWASP and CAPEC. Additionally, ThreatModeler provides components all mapped out for Azure and other cloud environments with security requirements based on their respective guidelines.

To learn how ThreatModeler can help your organization to achieve data with security and integrity, schedule a live demo. You can also contact us to speak with a threat modeling expert.

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