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Cyber Attacks: Protecting the Financial Service Sector’s Data Centres

By Rob Neave, Chief Technology Officer, Nlyte

Financial services have been in a state of war, with constant cyber threats trying to breach their extremely valuable networks for years. This is an industry-wide issue however the responsibility falls on IT managers trying to defend their data at all costs. However, to protect it they must take into consideration the entire digital ecosystem of the organisation: Almost every tech asset can be a risk. Their data centres are the backbone of these organisations and so they hold the key for ensuring that data and assets are secure – they act as digital fortresses.

Our modern and connected world means that data centres are now at the core of extremely complex and global financial organisations. As a result, they now hold a great array of mission-critical facilities and high valued data which needs to be available 24/7/365 to ensure that banks, financial services, and their customers can run without fail. The explosion of online banking, pressure from challenger banks, and scrutiny as a result of very public privacy and security failures across many industries means the scrutiny of how organisations handle consumer data is very high. Any whiff of an interruption of service hits headline news and has an undeniable ripple effect which cost time, money and reputation.

Cyber attacks are IT manager’s idea of hell and these are a real risk to the disruption of services. But managers need to be prepared for the worst situation as it is now not a ‘if’ a cyber attack will hit, it is when. Examining the network and knowing where systems are vulnerable means that managers have a better understanding on how to protect them, and can plan, purchase, and prompt staff accordingly. 

Any whiff of an interruption of service hits headline news and has an undeniable ripple effect which cost time, money and reputation.

We only need to take a look at the latest FCA figures, where it was reported that the financial services sector saw a fivefold rise in data breaches in the UK. This is a staggering rise which will send shivers down any IT manager’s spine. A breach or malicious attack is often the most compelling event, according to 26 percent of IT teams responding to an independent survey commissioned by Nlyte, to implement asset control across the entire technology stack. These attacks have only highlighted that high-value data is often targeted by adversaries looking to exploit such technologies as their way in.

Recently, a study indicated that the average cost of a cyber attack now stands at $1.67m, an astonishing amount to have to reserve in the event of an attack – and a sum most businesses don’t have sitting around. One of the most compelling reasons for getting your IT stack in order is to protect your data from a critical cybersecurity breach, and something that 84 percent of businesses claim is their biggest concern.

Despite all these astonishing stats, businesses are still not putting the best protocols in place. They must take control over assets before they are hit by a business-threatening cyber attack. Overcoming barriers such as a reduced budget or lack of appropriate skill-set, no longer needs to be a laborious or costly process holding companies back. Organisations must realise that this is preventing them from obtaining full control of their assets, leaving them susceptible to an attack.

a study indicated that the average cost of a cyber attack now stands at $1.67m

Are you cyber clean?

A secure physical infrastructure is key to ensuring that all the applications and data that financial organisations depend on are secure. In many cases, data and assets are spread across a great number of areas including the business’ own data centre and colocation or ‘edge’ facilities. However, IT managers must be bulletproof that these resources are not susceptible to an attack whether outside threats such as malware, which can hinder functionality or stop services dead, or the more sneaky possible insider threats – whether accidental or malicious.

It is all too common to see such events open an organisation to a plethora of threats which then turns into a fully fledged cyber-attack capable of debilitating a business. With such a great variety of modern assets coming in contact with the network, it extremely likely that devices installed or updated become non-compliant with regulations. This can leave holes within the network risk profile, and combined with the latest security tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) constantly changing, means IT managers have an uphill battle to ensure the most up to date firmware and security software patches are applied to reduce the risk of a breach.

Even with this abundant risk threatening the safety of a network, many organisations are still in the dark when it comes to having a full overview of their hardware, let alone the multiple versions of software and firmware running on their systems. If left unmonitored it can give hackers a great advantage in breaking through the network’s walls, not to mention the problematic issues with daily planning and optimising the assets a near impossible task. The day to day maintenance of the organisation to keep an enterprise in healthy technology is an extremely labour intensive job.

Checking and testing the security defences of the network needs to be a part of the daily routine to ensure the valuable data which financial services hold is safe. To keep track of all the assets across an entire network can be a very difficult task, however with solutions like Technology Asset Management (TAM), taking control and managing this huge ecosystem can become much less stressful.

Automate so you can remediate 

The vast amount of data and assets interacting on a financial organisation’s network means the infrastructure is often complex and inefficient. This means when there is an issue it isn’t clear or easy to fix.

Checking and testing the security defences of the network needs to be a part of the daily routine to ensure the valuable data which financial services hold is safe.

Having a single source of truth from TAM makes integrating all the technology devices to the network straightforward, even with the complexity of configuring and establishing a relationship with the network. The solution gives back control to IT managers by making the normally chaotic and hidden infrastructure visible, meaning that managing costs, security, compliance has never been easier as the entire landscape is visible and understood. As an organisation grows, so does the amount of data they it hold meaning that it is all too common for businesses to be buried by data hosted on outdated tech assets.

TAM not only gives full visibility over the network but can also optimise the tech and any software connected to the infrastructure – ensuring IT managers can see outdated or unused software as well as what’s at-risk. This helps IT teams become more efficient and lock down any out of date assets which are ticking security time bombs. With TAM constantly working in the background, IT teams can prioritise more important hands-on task when getting the ecosystem to full health again.

Technology asset management gives a holistic view of a business’s whole technology stack which significantly reduces the risk of a successful cyber attack, as well as optimising cyber-hygiene and costs.


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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