Cyber Attacks: Zero Trust in the Finance Industry

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Cyber Attacks

In the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it became necessary for the finance industry and other businesses to pivot into remote work, creating a whole new approach to organizational structure and business functions.

Digital services have also become more critical to businesses and their customers proliferating than ever. However, this pivot also created wider opportunities for cybercriminals to engage in their nefarious activities.

Cybercriminals always look for weak points to break through security infrastructure to access organization resources. The rise of the new challenges in cyberspace has also called for heightened security measures, especially in the finance industry.

And one of the high cybersecurity measures available right now is leveraging cloud services. It will require a broad suite of security tools, including devices, users, applications, and Zero Trust Access tools.

Undoubtedly, the finance industry has actively adopted cybersecurity technologies, tools, and processes; however, cyber thugs are relentless and constantly increasing their sophistication.

The consistent security threats have amplified pressure on the finance industry to embrace the Zero Trust model.

Why Zero Trust In The Finance Sector?

The Zero Trust concept means “trust no one, always verify.” Hence, trust shouldn’t be offered to devices, users, or applications by default, without first of all validating them.

The finance industry is particularly vulnerable to increasing attacks in cyberspace.

A 2020 report by VMware revealed that the financial industry suffered a shocking 238% rise in cyber-attacks!

The cost of a data breach in 2021 in the financial sector, as shown by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, is the highest average in 17 years! It costs a whopping $4.24 million – an almost 20% rise from $3.86 million the previous year!

So, if you are in the finance industry, it is very likely that you’ll experience cyberattacks, and the experience may come at a high cost because cyberattacks continue to increase. And for obvious reasons, the finance sector has a very high record of sensitive data that are advantageous to cybercriminals.

The approach to responding to this is to employ a security model that helps organizations control access to their data, network, and applications. The finance industry needs a cybersecurity strategy to address the specific cyber threat and create immediate solutions.

The strategy and solution lie in the Zero Trust Model. This model assumes that no app, user, or device deserves trust by default. So, instead of network protocols, firewalls, and IoT gateways, the finance industry must consider applications and data assets and decide user roles to access assets.

Based on identity management and existing user policies, companies can then leverage cryptographic segmentation to ensure that only specific users are given data or application access at a given time.

Each cryptographic domain has an encryption key that makes it hard for a hacker to migrate between compromised domains. It is almost impossible to escalate user privileges to siphon sensitive information, meaning that quickly identified and contained — with the limited potential fallout.

Implementing Zero Trust Architecture

While establishing a Zero Trust Architecture can boost security, many organizations find it relatively hard to implement. To know how to implement Zero Trust and increase your security approach, identifying these important factors will help:

  1. Identify Users in need of network access: You need to know who should have access to information at a particular time. When identifying data users to receive access, consider your employees, service accounts, third-party contractors, developers, robotic process automation (RPAs/bots), serverless functions, and system administrators.
  2. Take cognizance of devices in need of network access: Track every device that connects to your network. Devices to include in your asset catalog are smartphones, tablets, modems, switches, routers, workstations, and IoT devices (security cameras, printers, etc.).
  3. Identify digital artifacts that require network access: You should consider user accounts, applications, and digital certificates in your list.
  4. Observe critical processes: Identify all the beneficial applications to your company and the most critical ones.
  5. Create user policies: Now that you have been able to identify your key business processes next, establish suitable policies.
  6. Find and deploy solutions: Identifying the right solution will be based on the tools and goals for your business. And to control the risks of interrupting the flow of business, consider suitable stages to deploy solutions.

Conclusion

After getting everything to work as planned, engage in monitoring controls. For instance, you should set baselines for communication patterns, asset access requests, etc. Also, ensure that each rollout phase follows implementing, reviewing, and monitoring processes.